Tea! Antiquities! Friends! Animals!


Double drat!  Cyberspace just ate my post.  The rest of my family is finally sleeping at a normal time.  I need to join them.  So, no commentary this time.  We have yesterday’s London walk about to Fortnum and Masons, another trip to the British Museum (yes, Mia is walking along with us, just holding hands, for the first time ever!) and then today’s awesome trip to the Zoo with our lovely friends Ross and Nicola.  More big hugs to you guys!

Over and out…


Oldest bookshop in London.  Yes, I had to go in…





Yes, I have two pots of jam.  Waiter totally had no idea what I was saying and gave me two pots of jam instead of one of marmalade.  Then again, marmalade is a big word.Image

Buy all of the Things!!



Love Mr. Grumpy Frog-san at the BM.Image

Mom! It’s a pattern book for kimono from the 1800’s! Cool!Image

Mia loves the cat mummies.



Mom! Booty from the War of the Roses (Lancaster coins found buried on someone’s property…)Image

The gorgeous Great Hall



4000 year old wall. Cool!


Hard lighting for a proper shot of the Rosetta Stone – kind of a self portrait instead.Image

Walking hand in hand with Mia for the first time ever!


On the way to the pub for fish and chips…



Zoo Day!  Zoe has a new set of friends…ImageImageImageImageImage

Yes! We love dung beetles!  See Microcosmos for an awesome dung beetle scene.  And so good to see our friends – thanks for coming all the way down from your place to see us!! xoxo!Image

Blue giraffe tongue of awesome!


Move over Nutella!


Ok, Nutella.  We’ve had a good time.  I’m not saying that I never want to see you again, it’s just that, you know, in the interest of going local and all that, there’s a new spoon in town.  Why, hello English Extra Thick Double Cream!  With petite strawberries from a farm in West Sussex.  In the kitchen, in my pjs, with a spoon.  Oh yes, I am!  Happy sigh.  So, some notes on food…

I’ve been totally slack in mentioning the tea of the day each day.  Then again, it hasn’t been exciting. Yet.  I’ve been drinking Twinings Everyday – a hotchpotch of Yunnan, Assam, Indonesia and Africa that is *strong* and brews pretty much before the water is even on it.  Great stuff for a kitchen in a rental apartment when they know you’re going to be jetlagged.  There are also little cream-type containers that actually have milk in them.  I had no idea and so had to go out to the shop downstairs to get milk before I could make even the first cup of tea.  Jet lag can do that to you.

So, tea, strawberries, and spoonable, double thick cream of heavenly goodness.  It’s a good start ;-).  I’ve really appreciated finding all the random, hippie foods that we like at home (with the exception of solid coconut oil – awesome on toast for the dairy allergy people in my family).  We have coconut-rice milk for Zoe (loves it!) and some really great, local, farm-friendly (and hedgerow friendly here) granola, a very awesome (and relatively cheap compared to home) cheese selection and fruit from all over Europe (I always wonder where folks get their produce when California is not so conveniently next door-ish – Egypt, apparently – or Belgium, France, Romania…).  Although, these strawberries are nothing like the giant, glossy California ones.  They look like the ones you’d pick in your own garden or local berry farm – and they taste like that too!  Gorgeous!

Well, my family is all still asleep so I think I’ll head out for a walk in order to remedy my lack of marmalade problem.  Fortnum’s anyone?



Today was the big day.  The Harry Potter Studio Tour day.  The kids’ extreme excitement was mildly tempered by residual jet lag, but they were over the moon.  Travels were smooth (feeling very proud of myself for this – by the time we woke up after a 14 hour sleep and I looked online to figure out when we needed to leave to get to the studio for our ticket start time, we had 10 min to get ready and get out of the door).  Taxis here are very groovy.  They all take wheelchairs right off the bat – all of them!  And there are tons around – not like Vancouver.  So, cab to Euston Station, overland train to Watford Junction and a special, huge, violently purple Harry Potter shuttle bus to get to the studio.  I have to say that everyone here is supremely helpful – from cabbies to train station staff.

The studio tour was very, very cool.  Yes, we flew on the broomsticks in the green screen room and paid way too much money for souvenir photos.  But, c’mon!  Of course we did!  The sets were fantastic, the info films were fantastic, the details – the sheer, mind-boggling detail – was outstanding.  I mean, they made tapestries!  They made, and made worn and old, everything from costumes to comfy chairs in the common room, to every feather placed on the animatronic Buckbeak.  We were there for much longer than I’d anticipated – about 4 1/2 hours – and no one was flagging at all.  Brilliantly, there was an outside spot (the “backlot”) where there were some bigger pieces like the Knight Bus, Hogwarts bridge, Privet Drive, etc.  Zoe and Mia could run around and get out some of their ya-yas and we stopped for a Butterbeer.  

We ran out of steam just in time for the gift shop.  Great timing!, says the wallet.  However, Mia immediately found a Crookshanks doll and Zoe launched at the Pygmy Puff display and brought home her own Arnold.  I was mightily tempted by the gorgeous Scottish wool school sweaters (very understated dark grey with a simple stripe at the bottom for the house colour) – I mean, wouldn’t that make me the coolest teacher in the universe?  Ah, well.  I got a very nice journal.  

We have about 1000 photos.  Here are the smallest number that we could pick out.  

Mischief Managed!



London Calling


Arrival!  It’s a funny feeling – being here in the land of my people.  Or, at least, many of my people.  London itself.  It’s like looking at a set of anatomy plate pages from an old encyclopaedia that are on those clear plastic pages that layer upon layer.  Old buildings, new facades, old streets, graffiti heaped up.  All through the groovy lens of sleep deprivation.  Plane – fine.  Kids – fine.  Me – tired!  Here are a few pics and I’m off for (hopefully) 12 hours of sleep before we hit the Harry Potter Studios tomorrow afternoon.




British Museum – from Great Russell Court



Who’s tall??





And then, the kids completely bonked on the way home from the museum.  We still thought the kids should eat so he’s trying to tempt them with french fries and pickles.




She’s actually still asleep here! LOL!Image

The Christmas Letter


As members of my blog, you get the dubious privilege of getting the early bird view of the Christmas Letter!  Yes!  And this year, for a limited time offer, we are actually putting it out for Christmas time, rather than New Year’s or Easter, as usual.  Lukas has made an awesome collection of photos that I hope to put up soon as well.  xoxo

December 2013


Oh no.  NOT the infamous Christmas letter.  Oh yes.  You know, I just tried to handwrite one of our cards.  It’s not a particularly big card, but by the end my hand was cramping up and it was totally illegible.  So.  We type.

We are all good.  We skied (including the girls, popped onto the chair lift by Lukas, the amazing ski daddy, and whooshed down the runs at top speed, “Daddy, do it again! Really fast so my hair flies!”).  Lukas skied (Valhalla Traverse with some good friends – he just put up a book on Blurb.com with about 100 of the best photos – it was epic and gorgeous – not that I’m jealous, oh no! – and his girls all sang him the “Good Morning to daddy” and “Good Night to daddy” songs twice a day while he was gone).  We sailed to Lasqueti to visit our very lovely friends there, had tree house sleepovers and got to meet up with my old roomie from Australia on the way back (Hi Ross!).  Note to self: toddler with gnarly stomach amoeba and multi-day sailing journeys and outhouse toilets do not a happy mama make.  It was gross.  I have wiped it from my memory – mostly.

In August, we did the super happy dance as we joined Lukas’ sister, Eva, as she married her man, Andy.  It was gorgeous and full of love and just a fantastic weekend all around.  The dressed up photos on our card are from that weekend.  Mia and Zoe were very excited to be flower girls and Mia’s bear Stan and his brother, George, got to be the “Ring Bears”, (which incidentally, was Mia’s first pun).  Andy’s a great guy and I’m stoked to have him join Clan Chrostowski as a married-in, like me.

Huge changes blew in with the fall colours in September.  It was sunny.  That was really weird (the rain should have started in October but it was really, really nice all the way through the end of November!). Mia started kindergarten, which turned out to be a bigger leap from preschool than we had imagined, “Mommy, I got in trouble for scribbling in my phonics book.  I mean, it’s *paper*.  I was *scribbling*. What’s the big deal?” and “What do you mean I have to participate?  You mean even if I don’t want to?”.  Yes.  Me, the teacher perfectionist sitting in the principal’s office having _Meetings_.  It’s been a pretty tough few months, actually.  I’m very, very thankful that I could take this year off of work (like the kind people get paid for, not the 14 hour regular mom days) so that I could go to all the meetings, do the transition stuff that had to happen for Mia, be there for the first field trip (why no, the hay wagon isn’t wheelchair accessible), etc.  Mia’s come such a long way.  She talked to her class about Cerebral Palsy and chose two books to share with them, (Robert Munsch’s Zoom and Ceanna Has CP – can’t remember the author).  She dealt with shattering disappointment and then defiance in not being able to keep up in gym on the grassy field (now that it’s inside in the gym, it’s absolutely better), dealt with feeling different for the first time.  She said, “I can’t because I’m different and I don’t like it” for the first time.  Sigh.  Big, hard days for her and for us.  But, lots of good days too!  Great times at horseback riding therapy (trotting with no hands!) and joining Sparks (mini-girl guides) – “I’m all about the girl power, mommy” she says.  Being Hermione for Halloween, with Zoe as Crookshanks (Hermione’s cat). Getting a Mike Wazowski green power wheelchair (you know, most parents don’t need to worry about their child driving large machines around until they’re teenagers). She loves to put it into high gear and zoom around.  As Pete the Cat would say, “It’s all good.  Groovy”.

And littlest Zoe, heading to preschool, loving gymnastics, her princess bike, her long complicated stories, her games and toys that she carries around like a little pack rat all day (we got her a backpack because the handfuls of precious treasures kept getting away on her).  Surprising us with her epic vocabulary, (“Mia! That behaviour is totally inappropriate! There will be consequences you know.”) and her wacky dress sense.  Oh, and pink.  She loves anything pink.

We took them rock climbing for the first time around Thanksgiving and I can tell you that it was a huge feeling to belay my children for the first time.

And what else?  Lukas is working hard and getting fame and glory in his work, built us a sauna in our bathroom, and is writing a book.  I’ve been mom-ing, knitting like an addict (I just need to do a few rows to take the edge off!) and trying to raise money for an accessible playground at Mia’s new school so she can actually play on the playground instead of watching.  An entirely frustrating process – especially since I know nothing about fundraising and hated selling chocolate almonds, etc.  But, I have this fierce determination that the playground be built accessible and by golly it will!  Our parent committee just needs to raise about $200,000.  No biggie, as Mia would say. I’m not talking about that anymore because it totally stresses me out.  Instead, let’s talk about cute, furry kittens!

Our kitten, Nimbus 2000 (guess who named her), joined us at the end of September one day when I was out for the afternoon and Lukas had the girls after school. She is small, black with bright green eyes, curious and quite odd.  Well, to us she’s odd.  Maybe it’s just cats.  We’ve never had one.  But, she’s very cute and cuddly and likes to alternate sleeping on Mia and Zoe’s heads at night which makes the girls very happy.

So, I’ll sign off.  It’s past my bed time and tomorrow is a whole new day.  We hope you are well and that your loved ones are well.  We love you and send lots of hugs and happy holiday vibes.


meg, lukas, mia, zoe & nimbus

The Wheels on the Bus


My nana was born on the north shore and spent her early years growing up during the Depression, in a small wooden house with no electricity or indoor plumbing.  I remember her describing the beautiful clothes that her mother would make for them, so particular about how they looked and that they all have correct manners, stating, “My children will not sit at the back of the bus just because we are poor!”.  I thought of her today, my intrepid great grandma Jenny, raising kids alone during the depression, as I looked at the mass of paperwork in front of me – all to do with building an accessible, inclusive playground at the site of Mia’s new elementary school here on campus.  I wanted to bang my fist onto the table and echo Grandma Jenny, “My kid will not sit at the back of the bus because she’s in a wheelchair!”.  I stopped mid thought.  Arrested.  You know what?  She can’t even get on the school bus because she’s in a wheelchair!

This is, in fact, true.  We could advocate to the school board that they provide transport for her, like the other kids on campus who are bused off everyday because there aren’t enough school spaces here.  When the subject came up in the summer, my then four year old Mia said, “Mom, you can’t drive me to school!  That’d be so embarrassing!”.  Yep.  Four going on fourteen most days.  She even has the eye roll down pat already.  However, we decided that the bus fight wouldn’t be something we’d take on.  She’d have to ride alone, defeating the purpose of going on the bus with all of her friends.  The new school, fully accessible, will open next September, here on campus.  The school was actually one of the main reasons we moved onto campus when we needed to leave our house to find a stair-free living space.  We won’t need a bus when it opens.   One must choose one’s battles, especially when one is a mom with little kids, and especially especially when one of those kids has a significant disability.  The advocacy is really never ending.  Months looking for a Sparks (mini-Girl-Guides) unit that’s wheelchair accessible (she just wanted to join a group of girls for fun and activities, “I’m all about the girl power, mom!”), the non-accessible school bus, negotiating for a wheelchair parking space near the portables where her school is currently housed, working with the aide in her classroom who had never worked with a kid like Mia before and was completely uncomfortable and out of her depth, heck – just finding waterproof boots that can go over Mia’s leg braces can take weeks and weeks of searching, (internet reviews, online comparison, location in the city, try on, cram, squish, swear indelicately, cram, sigh and and admit defeat, start over, “But, mommy, I love the purple ones! Only the purple ones!” Sigh).
But, the one thing that’s not dropping off the advocacy list is the playground.  Yes, the playground.  We are lucky to live in an area peppered with playgrounds.  There are three within a short walk and three more within a moderate walk (with Zoe, car drive with Mia).  So, you’ll understand that it’s a bit like picking one’s way through a mine field when one tries to cross campus without going past a playground.  Why?  What kind of mean parent would purposely avoid playgrounds.  Me.  That’s who.  The mama who is no longer strong enough to lift my five year old up onto the play equipment so she can join in.  The mama who’s heart dies a little every time I agree to stop at the park and watch one little one zip off onto the climber, climbing up and down with her neighbourhood buddies, while the other one gets her wheels stuck in the wood chips, “Help mama! I’m stuck again!”, and then gets tired and stands at the side with the parents, watching the kids play.  Or, she’ll ask, “Mommy, can you please help me get up on that?  I want to climb on that with Zoe”.  And having to try (and then injure my back, again), or say “I’m sorry sweetie, I can’t.  I’m just not strong enough.”  And then, just watching.  Until her sad voice says, “Mommy, I’m ready to go home now.” and the tears ensue as I try to call the three year old off the climber and away from her friends so we can go home.  Zoe is three. She doesn’t understand why Mia can’t play, why she always wants to go home, why she doesn’t like playgrounds.  By the time we get home, I need either a good cry or a very big, strong, cup of tea, or both.  It’s too much.  Too much.
So, enter the new school grounds.  The new school being built.  Hooray and hallelujiah!  Wheelchair access! Wide hallways!  Elevators!  Large toilet stalls with bars!  Yes! Yes! Yes!  A playground committee is formed because, get this – wait for it – it’ll knock your socks off – because the school board, the government, the Ministry – don’t pay for school playgrounds.  School parents must form a committee and raise the money themselves.  Whoa.  Really?  Did I just hear that?  Did I just write that?  Parents have to raise multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars themselves?!  You know, I don’t think the bake sale is really going to cover this one.  Ok fine.  I join the committee.
 Over the summer we visited Whistler and Mia played in an accessible playground for the first time.  It was truly amazing.  As we approached the playground, I let Lukas take over as playground duty guy and ducked out to get a cup of tea at the cafe.  Remember, too much emotional trauma with playgrounds – I needed caffeinated reinforcements.  When I got back outside, I stood chatting with Lukas until suddenly I realized how odd this picture was.  Why wasn’t he helping Mia?  “She’s up there.”  He points and true enough, she’s up on the top level of the climber, laughing and bouncing up and down in her walker.  What?!  Is that safe?  My mama mind goes into panic overdrive, until I see the ramp.  I stop mid-leap.  Arrested.  A ramp?  A RAMP?!  Wow!  I couldn’t believe it!  Another parent points me to the sign at the park that explains it’s an accessible playground, built for the Paraolympics in Whistler in 2010.  Wow.  Accessible playground?  I look.  Really, the only differences I could see were the ramp up the play structure and the surfacing underneath it – a kind of bouncy rubbery business that was very flat and smooth – easy to roll on.  Places that were safe for Mia to go were wide enough for her to get through.  Places that were not safe (like the fire pole) had very narrow entrances that would not fit a walker or wheelchair.  There were hidey holes and places to chase around, things to look at on the ground level, spots to play Ice Cream Shop and lots of wheel friendly ground cover to just run around on.  Well.  I was converted.  She had the time of her life and the other kids there did, too.  When the playground committee formed for Mia’s school, I was ready to go in there and evangelize the benefits of an inclusive, accessible playground.  I told them about having to avoid routes on campus that took us past parks.  About how hard it is to watch an otherwise engaged child standing on the sidelines.  The committee jumped on board with me and the access part of the playground became a non-negotiable part of the design.
However.  That fancy rubberized surfacing costs more than ten times more than the wood chip surface most playgrounds have.  The cost of the school playground, now that we’ve had estimates from three companies, is about $300,000.  It’s a heart-stopping amount of money for a small group of parents who also have jobs, families, and no particular fundraising knowledge or skills.  I also find that for myself, I am extremely emotionally wrapped up in the whole thing.  Sitting down to write a funding proposal or think about granting agencies often has my stomach in knots and tears welling.  Again.  Here we are again.  It seems like so much of what we need for Mia requires extensive paperwork, requires applications, requires asking – please, may we have such and such so our daughter can try her best to be like everyone else?  To level the field a bit?  And this is such a huge amount of money.  
It has been very hard so far.  Businesses on campus say they don’t have a vested interest in campus itself, so they don’t feel a donation would benefit them (their kids go to other schools, their homes are elsewhere).  Developers here have projects all over the city, why would they support a community project here?  UBC itself is such a huge, red-tape institution that we haven’t even been able to figure out who to talk to yet, other than the Campus and Community Planning office, and they’ve been giving us the runaround and not answering emails or phone calls.  So, I start researching.  I start building a proposal, building a case.  Based on their own Strategic Plan, UBC really must support this project.  Heck, UBC is hosting the 2014 Special Olympics here on campus and there is no wheelchair accessible playground!  (These playgrounds are great for everyone, by the way, not just wheelchair users.  Mobility walkers for kids, adults, elderly grandparents, people with strollers, people on crutches from an injury, people with developmental disabilities and little toddlers who both tend to mouth ground cover like wood chips, the list goes on…).
The university – the President’s Office, the Diversity Office, the media, the community… We need to access all of these people.  It all seems to take so much time.  So much energy.  Some days I’m just too tired to pick up the phone again.  To write another piece.  To do more research on the proven value of play for all and the universal right to play for children and children with disabilities (according to the UN Charter of Rights and Freedoms).  Is it really so much to ask?  Is it really so much to ask that we have a place where all children can play?  Why does it always have to be so hard?
I wish I had the answer.  I know we have so much to be thankful for.  I don’t want to seem ungrateful or greedy.  But I can’t get that picture out of my mind, or that twisting feeling out of my stomach.  Standing sadly on the sidelines.   Life is hard enough for her.  For us.  And she’s so brave and so stubborn (it’s good thing, most of the time).  I know other kids in other families who have huge challenges too.  I would love for someone to step forward and say, yes, we agree. This is a totally worthwhile project.  In fact, all playgrounds built in the future should be inclusive playgrounds.  Why on earth would we build one that would exclude a bunch of kids just because they are different?  And, in fact, we’ll have community funds for this – at least for the lion’s share.   Whoever that person is, please come forward.  We really need you now.  Oh, and lots of money.  We’re going to need that too.

The Great Referral Debacle: A Disintegration in Three Parts


Scene: Mommy is at her desk, piled high with paperwork, stickers, felt pens, a headlamp and empty tea cups – the usual detritus.  She confidently sits down to track down a referral to the orthopaedic clinic for her daughter.  The clinic called that morning with a cancellation appointment for the following week – mommy was delighted to get in after only 2 months and snagged that appointment with gusto.  First phone call – to the paediatrician’s office.

Part One – Paediatrician

Phone dials.  Paediatrician’s office assistant (POA) picks up: Hello, this is Dr. K’s office.

Mommy (confident): Good morning!  This is Megan Chrostowski calling.  I’m calling about a referral to the Orthopaedics clinic for my daughter, Mia.  Yes, it’s C-H-R-O-S-T-O-W-S-K-I.  Yes, M-I-A.  Ha, ha, yes, it’s good we gave her a short first name.  It was faxed to you a couple of weeks ago by our Physiotherapist…

POA: I’m sorry but your referral to Dr. K has expired and we need a new referral from your family doctor before we can see Mia.

Mommy:  I see.  We don’t have a family doctor – we are still on a waiting list to get one.  We go to the walk in clinic.  But, in this case, we need to just get a referral to orthopaedics before Tuesday, because we got a cancellation appointment which we’d really like to take.  Our Physio suggested that we just fax it to Dr. K because she knows us and has seen her before.

POA: We have an in-town day a month from now, would you like to book a time then?  We have 11:45, 12:30…

Mommy (starting to get just a smidge irritated):  Actually, we need to do this paperwork for the ortho clinic before Tuesday.  Ok, I understand that you need another referral to see Mia but I don’t know if a walk-in doctor, who’s never met her, would be open to writing her a referral when they don’t even know her.  Do you see what I mean?

POA: Well, unfortunately, we need a referral in order to see her.  A walk-in clinic would be able to refer her to us.  We have an in-town day on  December 20th but it will book up quickly…

Mommy:  I understand, I just need to get this referral before Tuesday.  Don’t worry, I’ll figure something else out.

Mommy hangs up, grinding her teeth.  Frustrated, she calls the Family Walk In Clinic.

Part Two – Walk In Clinic

Phone rings. Click. The Professional Voice of the answering machine lady picks up: Thank you for calling the Family Walk In Clinic.  For hours of operation press 1.  For all other inquiries, including making an appointment to see a doctor, press 2.

Mommy presses 2, trying to think of the name of the doctor they saw last time … Little? Longbottom?

Clinic receptionist (CR): Thank you for calling Family Walk In Clinic, how can I help you?

Mommy, using her cheerful, knowledgeable, in charge voice: Hi, I’m calling regarding my daughter, Mia.  She was seen by Dr. Longbottom in the past and I’m wondering if it’s possible to book directly with her again?

CR: I’m sorry, at our clinic we usually have student resident doctors who initially see…

Mommy jumps in: Yes, I realize that.  But in our case, we just need a referral to the Orthopaedics Clinic because we’ve just been called for a cancellation appointment for Tuesday and our pediatrician said that they need a referral to see Mia before they can do a referral to Orthopaedics.  (Confident voice slightly trails into “I’m sorry this is so confusing” voice)…

CR: Ok, let’s see.  Dr. Longbottom runs her clinic here on Wednesdays.  What’s your daughter’s name again?

Mommy: Mia Chrostowski – C-H-R-O-S-T-O-W-S-K-I, Mia, M-I-A.  Yes, I know – good to have a short first name. Look, since we do need to see someone before Tuesday, do you think that one of the walk in doctors would be able to write her referral to orthopaedics?  She has cerebral palsy and it’s pretty obvious – she has leg braces and a mobility walker…

Meanwhile, the phone call-waiting keeps beeping and beeping. It’s either one of the hospital numbers (mommy has that memorized), or the paediatrician again.

CR: Ok, why don’t you leave a message with our referrals clerk and she’ll get back to you.

Mommy, wearily: Ok, sure.

Mommy repeats all of the above, again, in as clear a message as possible, spelling everyone’s names twice and making the short first name joke herself – to save the clerk the trouble.  Just as she hangs up, the phone rings again immediately.  She ignores it and lets it go to voicemail while she scans her memory rolodex for all the medical and para-medical professionals that work with her daughter.  Surely in this team of 10+ people, there has to be a medical doctor that can write a friggin referral without a referral of their own, 2 hour long appointment and month long wait.  Eureka!  Mommy remembers the lovely geneticist saying she’d be happy to write a note at any time.  Mommy dials her number and hopes that the geneticist is in before Tuesday.  Fingers crossed.  Legs crossed.  Heck, now it’s almost a yoga twist and gee, that feels pretty goo… – phone picks up…

Part Three – Genetics

Genetics Department Receptionist (GDR) Answering Machine: beeeeep! Good morning, thank you for calling the department of medical genetics.  If this is an emergency, call 9-1-1.  Otherwise, please leave a message… BEEEP!

Mommy, struggling to find confident voice over confused voice because, damn, this is just really confusing!: Hello! This is Megan Chrostowski calling.  My daughter Mia Chrostowski is seen by Dr. L.  At our last appointment, which was last week, Dr. L said that she’d be happy to write referrals or letters for us as needed.  We need a referral to the Orthopaedics Clinic because we’ve been given a cancellation appointment for Tuesday morning and I just found out this morning that our paediatrician can’t do it because she needs a new referral herself before she can see us.  So, .. um.. (mommy starting to lose the plot a bit), I’m sorry if that sounds confusing, but I’m happy to chat with Dr. L if needed, or email the details.  So, again, that’s for my daughter Mia, M-I-A, Chrostowski, C-H-R-O-S-T-O-W-S-K-I and my name is Megan.  My number is 555-555-5555. Thank you so much!

Mommy hangs up the phone and slumps into her chair.  Takes a swig of tea.  Notices that she’s been tracking down this referral for over 45 minutes already.  The tea is cold.  She figures she better check the voicemail messages as now there are 3 of them.  The first is from the paediatrician’s office saying that actually, they did fax the referral to orthopaedics last week but that we still need to get a referral to come in and actually see Dr. K since it’s been a year and a half.  There will be an in-town clinic day… blah… blah.. blah.  Ok!  Hurrah!  The referral is in!  The phone rings again…

CR: Hi, is this Megan?  Hi, this is the Family Walk in Clinic.  Can you bring Mia in at 4:20 today?

Mommy, thinking of what she’d probably rather be doing at 4:20 given the frustration of the morning: Oh, actually, I just found out that the paediatrician’s office did do the referral to orthopaedics, but we do still need a referral to the paediatrician, so should we do that today? Or, it could be next week if that’s easier for you guys…

CR, sounding confused: Ok, … sure.  That’s fine.  So we’ll see you at 4:20 then?

Mommy, realizing that she’ll need to call her mother in law to change her plans as it’s her afternoon with Mia and then that she won’t be able to pick up daughter #2, Zoe, at daycare at 5:00 because the walk in clinic takes forever – so someone will have to pick her up…, in an overly cheerful and falsely confident voice: Ok, sure. Sounds good!  Thank you so much!

Mommy hangs up.  Groans.   Holds head in hands.  Wishes tea were hot and were actually a margarita… on the beach… in Mexico.  She shakes it off and calls Medical Genetics back to awkwardly, yet professionally and confidently as possible, scratch the request for a referral to orthopaedics because actually the pediaetrician did do it last week.  So sorry to bother you. 

 Then, she goes to call her mother in law.  We won’t bore you here with the continued details of Mommy trying to recap the confusing story for MIL and arranging to have MIL pick up Mia at preschool as previously planned, bring her walker home to drop off (because in the midst of the Ortho-Referral-Fiasco, Mia is also finally getting her new walker delivered today and Mommy has to have the old one ready for pick up), then take Mia to play, then bring her home so Mommy can walk her to the clinic for the pediatrician’s referral, while MIL goes to pick up Zoe at daycare.  Hallelujiah for MIL, who remains calm and says, “Don’t worry” in soothing tones.

The phone rings.  Mommy sees that it’s a hospital number and goes into auto-answer-the-phone mode.

GDR: Hi! This is reception at the department of Medical Genetics!  We got your voicemail.  Dr. L is happy to do the referral to Orthopaedics and she’s just faxed that off.

Mommy, realizing that two or three referrals are probably now on the orthopaedics clinic desk and decides it’s too complicated to go through the whole thing again explaining that it’s been done, says, in the falsely cheerful voice: Oh, great!  Thank you.  Thank you so much!

Mommy hangs up the phone.  Flops on her desk.  It’s been over an hour and a half of phone calls, messages, and voicemail.  Breathe in…whooooshhhhhh…. breathe out…….fooooooooooshhhh….. That’s what they say at yoga.  It’s gotta be good.  Look how chill all those yoga pretzel teachers are.  Mommy scrapes herself off her desk and wanders blearily into the kitchen to find hot, strong tea in a *very* large mug and probably a cookie or four to go with. So much for finding all of the Christmas ornaments and lights this morning – the kids are asking to decorate the tree every five minutes and Mommy has a haunting feeling that she may have chucked out at least the lights in a fit of “whatever!” during the last of the packing for the move… 

So, there you have it folks.   A very typical day in the life of Mommy with child with disability / special needs / whatever you want to call it.  If you liked this conversation debacle, just wait for the next instalment: Mommy calls the Insurance Company!