Big Bird

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I woke up sad today. It wasn’t because I went to a party last night, nor was it because I had a nice day yesterday. All those are good things, no sadness required. After my meditation I got up made breakfast sat down to read the news and learned Big Bird died today. My daughter said, “I’m so sorry.” and that made me cry.

This summer Caroll Spinney, the original puppeteer for Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, announced he would not be attending any more fan expos. That was sad but understandable, the man was 86, he deserved some alone time with his wife. I reached out to him and thanked him for being there every day for me as a kid and every day for my kids. I loved Big Bird and Oscar and told him so. Not that he likely didn’t hear it every day, but he wrote me back.

Let’s pause for a moment.

CAROLL SPINNEY WROTE ME BACK.

He told me how much he appreciated the kind words and how much it meant to him when his fans said thank you. He then invited me to join his private group for fans. I was honoured. I lost my mind for about a day, but then I was back to normal just admiring the artistry of his skills. He was a master of puppetry, improv, acting, singing and was an artist/illustrator. His work touched me deeply. Related image

Spinney originated Big Bird and Oscar fifty years ago, November 10, 1969. I was two. They have been apart of my entire life. I shared my love of muppets with my kids and one day will share them with my grandkids. I remember Oscar was orange before he was green and Big Bird was 5. Apparently, Big Bird is now six.

I loved the giant size of his nest and his imaginary friend Snuffy. I also had an imaginary friend, her name was Lucy. Only Big Bird and I knew Snuffy wasn’t imaginary, neither was Lucy, but the adults in our life never believed us. This made us get each other on a level I didn’t reach with other muppets. Big Bird was special, just like me.

Big Bird, Super Grover, and Kermit were the big three for me. Grover is the last one left. Each of them made me feel as if I was important. Little five year old me that wore a cape and had imaginary friends who were real. I was included in the ragtag bunch because they embraced diversity and uniqueness. Everyone was welcome. I wish I could say that I was welcome with everyone in real life, but I can’t. I was often on the outs because of my looks, my ideas and my interests. I still have to deal with cliques, mean girls and mean boys at the age of 52. For crying out loud… people are just unbelievable in their actions and behaviour. I suppose that’s why I love the Muppets so much. Everyone was welcome and everyone was recognized for their uniqueness. They practiced kindness. This isn’t a hard concept. BE KIND.

I am grateful to Caroll Spinney, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Fran Brill and Jim Henson. Grover and Prairie Dawn are the only ones left. I am happy I was fortunate enough to have had Seasame Street as a large part of my life. As a Tribute to Caroll Spinney, they are asking for donations to be made to the Yellow Feather Fund. They support giving kids a healthy start, think of it as Seasame Street in communities.

At least original Snuffy and Big Brid are together again.

Caroll Spinney 1933 – 2019.

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Running 500 Miles for SMA

There is an app out there called Timehop. I am not big on revisiting the past other than for purposes to mark achievement. I often speak to running/walking groups to talk about goal setting and maintaining motivation. I preach the basics of forgiving yourself, be kind to yourself and let the past go. Mistakes happen, move on. Except for measurement. I think TIME  is a marvellous tool for measuring progress. For example, 2010 I couldn’t walk up the stairs without major effort. Getting out of the bathtub was hard for me. As you all know, I started moving more and eating less. I am 117lbs further away from 2010. It amazes me.

I was flipping through TimeHop and came across a photo of my desk piled high in books and papers as I was writing my Capstone.

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This photo made me pause. I suddenly remembered all the steps that got me to this point.

I needed a project to work on for my final project. So I called my pal Joe because he often asks me the kind of questions that inspires me to think out of the box. We began talking about goals and future projects that would be huge or at the very least, take serious time and effort to complete. He disclosed that he would like to ‘one day’ run from the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco to the esplanade in Disneyland Resort. I said, “Lets do it!” So we started planning and this became my Capstone project. Project Planning on an epic scale. I got an A+ but something else happened.

We started a foundation called Do Away with SMA. Part of this adventure was because if you are going to do something big, do it for a great cause. Joe’s family was personally affected by SMA so we decided to make this personal and choose that cause to work for. Why? Because other charities that you hear about are just that…charities that you hear about. They have a name and are doing well and meeting their goals. Apparently, Joe and I are two individuals that who like to go big or go home. Starting from scratch is a big deal for us. So, with the support of our families and friends, here we are. Co-Founders with the help of our friends in the foundation DAWS. All because we thought it might be fun to run 500 miles for charity.

Boom.

Its suddenly a reality.

This August is when it all happens. The way my life has turned really makes me blink with shock and awe. Whose life is this anyways? How did I get to this point? This is definitely not the old me. The new me is a very different person from 10 or even 5 years ago.

I invite you to follow our adventure on our blog at www.doawaywithsma.org. I will post adventures here and we will have a photo gallery on Facebook. Here is a link to our Crowdrise page that is raising money specifically to support this adventure. We hope to secure corporate support and raise money to help us fund this run as well as raise money to for our foundation. The Foundation support is found here .  That Cutie on the page is Claire. Claire has SMA. We met her Aunt through our Running Team and we heard amazing stories and saw adorable photos and suddenly SMA became REAL to the board. It was always real for Joe, his brothers died from SMA Type 1, but Claire is a typical kid living with an Atypical genetic disease. Now it is more important than ever that we raise money to support DAWS. We want to support kids like Claire in making every day tasks easier and to support researchers so they may find a cure. We want SMA to be eradicated. That is why Joe is running 500 miles. For kids like Claire.

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Here is what I hope to achieve by doing this grand adventure:

Raise money for our Foundation DAWS so we can help fund research and support parents and children who are living with SMA. 

Support Joe as he runs really far. Between you an me, he gets cranky when he is tired so this may be a challenge for me. See how I make it about me? Because I am awesome like that.

Share all kinds of daily adventures because you can’t run a marathon everyday and have nothing happen.

See the Coast of California. I haven’t been there since I was a kid. It should be a beautiful scenic adventure!

Meet amazing people along the way both on the road and in social media. 

I suspect this will be one of those life changing moments that teaches you about yourself and your friends. Joe’s Road Crew has 3 of us on board for support, food and fights   companionship. The off road support has many more….who may get calls from me as I will need to talk to people who don’t live in the car with me.

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There are 2 ways to support.

1. You can donate directly to 500 Miles for SMA. When your donation reaches different levels, there are gifts that coincide with the donation level.

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2. You can donate DIRECTLY to the Foundation. We have lofty goals for finding a cure and supporting families and their children. That gets expensive. The great news is, Do Away with SMA is a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation. That means I copy the legalese here for your reading pleasure:

The Do Away with SMA Foundation is a public charity and is tax exempt under Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All donations made to the foundation may be deducted from your federaly taxable income to the extent permited by law. You should contact a tax professional to determine whether and to what extent donations are deductable under your particular circumstance.

 

This August is SMA Awarness Month. I invite you to come and cheer Joe on along the route. Here are our projected dates and places.

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I will be posting our location with video and photos and stories of our adventure. We hope you will join us.

We simply want to help as many people as we can, and play a part in defeating this disease. When I run, I always remember the faces of my younger brothers. ~Joseph R Kolinksy

Look for us here:

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Hi I am The Edmonton Tourist, and I am a bad Mother

Rocotillo pepper (Capsicum baccatum) is a type...
Rocotillo pepper (Capsicum baccatum) is a type of chile pepper originating in Peru. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Apparently I am a bad mom.

 

I am cool with that.

 

I mom sent over some garden treats yesterday. The cherry tomatoes tasted like candy and the tiny red peppers were shiny and beautiful.

 

I popped a red pepper in my mouth thinking they were sweet bell peppers. HA! So wrong. Yes, they were sweet but it did end there. My lips burned for an hour afterwards. These gems will be delish in Fajitas, stir fry or chopped finely and put into pasta. They are lovely, I just wish I knew they were hot.

 

This morning, I was making lunches, ChatterBox was sitting at the counter eating  breakfast. I congratulated her on the terrible job she did cleaning the kitchen after dinner last night. To her credit, she is good at looking sheepish and apologized. She will give it another go tonight after dinner. Enough said, change of topic. I mentioned the peppers her Grandma sent over. I proceeded to rely the story of how hot they were and laughed at myself because of the sheer stupidity of just biting into it KNOWING it was a pepper.

 

In between the story, I would ask lunch questions, “Nectarine?”  She replied, “yes please.” Then the hilarity of events would continue.

 

I placed the nectarine in the pile of food for her lunch when she asked if she could try one now.

 

I opened the fridge and pulled out another nectarine.

 

ChatterBox looked at me like I had two heads.

 

“No, a pepper.”

 

I shrugged and said sure while I passed her the bag of peppers.

 

She pulled out a tiny red shiny bulb and proceeded to pop it into her mouth.

 

“OH SWEET MOTHER OF GOD WHY THE HELL DID YOU LET ME DO THAT!!!”

 

I looked at her bewildered because I had told her my experience of the peppers and yet she still wanted to try them.

 

Her rant continued,

 

“WHY do you let me do what ever I want? What kind of mother are you? Other moms tell their children no, but not you! You think its a good idea that I experiment and try new foods. Other moms would say NO. My friend’s mom never lets her do what she wants and is she cocky and arrogant like me? NO SIR! She is nice calm and shy. I, However, am cocky and arrogant because I get to try what ever I want like this pepper that might in fact kill me!”

 

She demanded water and I said milk will work better, but I gave her water because she yelled,

 

“I AM LACTOSE INTOLERANT”

 

I laughed.

 

Whatever…

 

I just kept looking at her, smiling.

 

The ironic part is, I often get lectured about the kind of easy-strict mom I am. I have a dress code my girl must live by, I demand for my children to think in terms of “is that appropriate? Could you share that with your Grandma?” If the answer is no – then they better think twice about doing it.

 

I am not the “my word is law” mom, I am “think for yourself and judge it against your values” mom. Then I become the “suffer your consequences” mom. All of these things circle around actions/consequences. I think it’s the best learning tool on the planet.

 

Mean while, I was still smiling as she left for school with her burning mouth.

 

It’s not like I didn’t warn her.

 

The Future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades

Often we make friends because there are commonalities among us. We like similar things, our humor is the same or our children are friends.

Being friends because your children are friends isn’t always the best idea. When the kids fight and separate, things can become awkward between the adults if you let it. My Chatterbox had has an ongoing friendship with a gal since kindergarten. This girl’s mom and I have been friends that long as well – actually more so. We would go on girl only weekends, scrapbook together and we even share the same birthday.  Our girls no longer ‘play’ or ‘hangout’ together, and they go to different schools, but that doesn’t stop them for being Facebook friends, or speaking fondly of each other. Friendships change and evolve. I do not have the same friends from kindergarten, nor do I expect my children to have those same relationships. But I do think fondly of some of my childhood pals, and I hope my children do too.

Kindergarten

Today on Facebook, all my mom friends were posting first day of school pics and comments about their child toddling off to school. My youngest toddled off to Grade 10 this morning, running to catch the bus for fear she would be late. Her friends showed up 5 minutes later and I sent them towards the bus stop. I paused to think about my first day in High School. I stopped by to pick up a friend and we walked to school together. The weather was similar as it was today, warm and sunny, with wind blowing gently. It was a melancholy day.

To me it is just another sign that my children are growing in independence and I have less hands on time with them. To make up for this, I make sure I am available for when they seek me out to chat. I heard about her day and the comparisons that were made between her and her brother. I heard about her plans to out shine her brother in some areas and make her own mark in others. I definitely have a confident girl. (*Author’s Note: I rarely talk about The Boy, mostly because he forbids me. I respect that. It has nothing to do with favorites – because obviously I am their favorite.)

Conversations drifted from drama and the improv team to cheerleading and running. It looks like she will give the Cheer Team a pass and go out for the Cross Country Run Team.

Nice.

I have to admit to loving this idea a whole lot. (We ran together last week at a 5k race in Edmonton and are planning a girls trip to WDW together so we can run the 5k together there. It is cool for me to run with my girl, just as cool as it was for me to run with my dad.)

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When she was in grade 6 she was determined to be a cheerleader. I think it had to do with the High School Musical rage at the time. She made academic choices to head towards schools with a cheer team that was active in the competitive community, and not just about shaking pom poms for football. She enrolled in a school with a cheer team that consistently wins and travels to the US for competitions. Now that high school has arrived for my girl, she thinks she is a runner.

I like watching her run. She has that Gazelle stride I dream of having. It is something she is good at with little effort, so applying a lot of effort may have her see moderate to high success. I think its great to find something you excel at in school. I wish I had when I was her age, I was a late bloomer instead. That’s okay too.

She may decide that running isn’t for her either. Also okay. That is what high school is all about. Trying new things and figuring out the learning curve. Meeting new friends who share similar interests with you. My friend’s daughter said, “High School is for finding bridesmaids.” Isn’t that the truth! Find great friends, laugh and cry with them. Try new things and fail miserably at some stuff while you succeed at others. Take risks and play it safe, all within the same week.

ChatterBox was ready for bed at dinner time today. She managed to stay awake long enough to enjoy her evening.

It is shaping up to be a fantastic year.