Swimming Lessons NDN Style

Cielo and Jr have been taking swimming lessons this week. (Every day, twice a day for 2 weeks. I need a vacation from my vacation.)

I never took swimming lessons, when people ask my general response is, “Ndns don’t swim…we like water but don’t swim. We frolic.” As a child and up til now I can count on my fingers the number of bathing suits I’ve owned. (Swim in cutoff shorts and a T? Don’t mind if I do.) Anyway, I want them to learn to swim so there I am hauling 3 kids, one of whom will NOT touch the sand tho I won’t name names (Diego.) We are the only native family taking lessons there. Maybe ever.

I feel like I’m taking lessons too because if I am not in the water my girl does not participate. She totally calls shenanigans on “swimming” as she would rather frolic. She is so my child.

I am reminded of being a kid and beginning school in town. Before at the rez school I never thought I had less (meaning material things) than others, until I saw other kids with more. It didn’t bother me, but it did embarrass me tho I tried to hide it. I thought those feelings went away but I’ve realized they have not.

It literally hurt my heart when I realized my kids were the only ones in their swimming class not wearing wet suits (the lake is cold yo.) It is not a requirement but I didn’t want them to feel different so I bought them each one. (Scored a sale, plus used $25 worth of Canadian Tire money cuz I’m thrifty like that.) When I showed the kids their response made me both sad and glad. They both said, “oh! It’s just like_____’s! Now I won’t be cold.”

I guess they noticed. Funny thing is, when I was a child I felt totally fancy if I had a “real” bathing suit. I still feel that way if you want me to be honest.

Now if I could just sit on the beach and read everything would be perfect.

November 10, 2011 – My Jr is 4

Dear Junior,

As per usual Mommy is running late with the birthday post, but maybe that is because we had such a crazy, whirlwind time.  I still can’t believe that you are already four years old.  My sweet baby son.  November 9 was your last day of Pre-K last week before the long weekend, and your teachers graciously granted permission for you to have a party in your classroom.  You requested a Francesco (from Cars 2) cake and I was worried whether or not I would be able to deliver.  I managed to pull off the cake and a pinata for you to share with your friends.  I hope you liked them.

Francesco cake? Check (and a McQueen pinata to boot)
It was so fun to watch you and your classmates celebrate.  I couldn’t believe how excited and enthusiastic the other kids were.  As I snapped pictures of you all (carefully) wielding the pinata stick I almost cried thinking ahead to the future.  I can just imagine seeing these pictures during the graduation video when you finish Grade 12.  I’m so silly, getting all weepy about you finishing high school when you aren’t even in kindergarten yet but that is me.
November 10 dawned and you were four.  You were so excited because not only was it your birthday but you were going to the city alone with mommy.  Unfortunately we were going to the ophthalmologist to check on your eye.  I got sad when he said you will have surgery in January, but you were having so much fun with my iPhone I hope you didn’t notice.

my brave hijo


 After a few quick stops we were on our way home for your second party with our family.  You seemed to have a great time, surrounded by the people who love you most.  When you went to bed that night you hugged me close and asked if I was your best friend.  I said what I always do when you ask me this…”always.”

Te amo mucho Junior.


It’s a Good Day to Dance

When asked what interests, motivates and inspires me besides Speech Pathology several things run through my mind:

1)      Shopping (certainly)

2)      Food (definitely)

3)      Social media (most assuredly)

However, my strongest and most important interests and sources of motivation and inspiration are best described by my twitter handle @ndnspeechmomNdn is an abbreviation of the term “Indian” which, although not politically correct is the term I grew up using to describe myself as a First Nations individual.  Speech seems self-explanatory and mom is the title I wear most proudly. 

The importance of family and cultural identity is the cornerstone of my life and is something that I plan to pass on to my children.  As a child I danced Pow Wow and was even once Thunderchild Junior Princess in 1986.  (If you’d like to see my beaded moosehide sash my dad has it in his man cave.)  It is difficult to describe the feeling you get when you dance to the drum.  It has been years since I was part of the Pow Wow circle but whenever I hear the drum and the singers start those familiar songs I can feel it in my heart.  Someday I want to dance again, but I especially want to raise my children to be comfortable traveling on the Pow Wow trail.  I was so proud on August 28, 2011 at the Thunderchild Pow Wow because that was the first day I got to take all three children into the center while they danced Tiny Tots.  My nervousness as to whether they would like it melted away when I saw my daughter lift her arms and begin to dance.  I was surprised because I didn’t even know that she knew any steps.  My sons were more reserved but they didn’t panic even with the crowds watching them.   I was so excited I forgot to take as many pictures as I would have liked. 

This compilation video includes pictures from the Thunderchild 2011 Pow Wow and several from my family photo album.  The music is a song called, “It’s a Good Day to Dance” by the drum group Blackstone. 


This is a video that I shot with my phone of the drum group that sat directly in front of us.  I was proud that my children enjoyed listening to the drum so close.  The two men visible onscreen are my cousin Marvin Thunderchild and my uncle Eric Tootoosis.  The name of the drum group is Saddleback and I believe they are from the Edmonton area of Alberta.

I feel as though my focus on family and culture serves me well in my professional life as well since I am a school based Speech Pathologist travelling to several different First Nations communities.  I find it rewarding to work with children in the communities around my home reserve of Thunderchild and I hope that I can encourage more First Nations  people to enter the fields of Speech Pathology and Audiology.   I encourage everyone reading this to partake in the beauty that is native culture and to feel the heartbeat of the drum.  It is always indeed “A Good Day to Dance.”

Conferences and other Conventional Thoughts

Usually I write my title first and try to keep my post on topic, but I feel rambly so I’m curious what this post turns out to be.

(I just sneezed super loud and heard my 3 and 4 year old gasp audibly.  My daughter stage whispered, “OH! What was that?”  Her brother responded,

“Mommy I think.)


Anyway, my twitter stream today is all about the ASHA Convention.  I really wish I was going but at least I can keep up with everyone’s live tweets about it.  Now I REALLY want to attend the CASLPA convention in Montreal this coming May, so I suppose I have to get a pencil and paper out and see if I can swing it.  I wonder where the convention is next year…I wish it was in Alberta or BC so it would be closer.  It was in Whitehorse last year which is technically out west but was too far north, even for me.  I particularly want to attend the CASLPA convention this year so I can see Tanya and Janelle do their presentation on Social Networking and Professional Development.   Ugh all this SLP talk reminds me that I need to renew my SK and AB licenses by the end of December. *sigh* CASLPA convention is looking farther away…

Speaking of conventions I just realized that I’m presenting at a conference next week.  Actually this time next week I will be finished.  I wish it was already next week because then I would be in Edmonton near my fav mall.  (Haha just planning on spending my per diem as soon as I get it.)  I’m a little nervous, I always am before public speaking but once I get into the topic I’m usually ok.  Truthfully I am always surprised when people choose to go to my session over one of the more “fun” and light choices.  (Hello…free massages?)  I have to finish my powerpoint and then get handouts and whatnot ready. It will be great, this is my 3rd year presenting at the Knowing Our Spirits Conference.  (The KOS conference features education, culture and contemporary issues related to First Nation, Metis, and Inuit peoples.)


Lately I have been feeling so behind.  There are so many things I want to do in my house, with my kids, for my job, online and all by myself….and yet it just isn’t happening.  This isn’t like me and I do not care for it at all.  I think what bothers me the most is that it makes me feel guilty, and like a bit of a fraud.  Thank goodness I’m only working part time or I can’t even imagine how crazy my schedule would be.


Who else is excited for Christmas?  We bought a tree already (6.5′ of prelit artificial goodness) and I just have to dig around in my storage area to find my ornaments.  Even if when I find them all I will probably definitely need to buy more.  Yay and boo simultaneously.  (Boo only because what if I can’t find what I’m looking for.  What AM i looking for?  Beats the hell out of me but I suppose I will know it when I see it.)


I just realized I have another problem, although maybe problem isn’t the right word.  I am a bit of an eclectic personality.  Maybe I even have multiple sides to my personality (not full on Sybil status but you know what I mean.)  My job is generally considered to be “serious” and whenever I meet people that only know me by my title (that’s M.A. SLP) they expect….Susie SLP.  That is so not me.  My generally quirkiness is what people remember about me the most…that or my painfully loud laugh or amazing rack sense of humor.  I even created a second twitter account so I could be more serious and speechie there…but that didn’t work out.  I ended up deleting my original twitter account and continue to (probably) confuse everyone with my eclectic posts. 

What do you guys think? Do you censor yourselves online at all? Honestly–I do.   My twitter and my blog are connected, by that I mean I mention my blog on twitter.  My Facebook and my blog/twitter are not associated at all (with the exception of my cousin and a few #SLPeeps.)  Why do I do this and which is a better indication of who I am? Probably my blog and twitter because there I am the most honest.  This is not saying that I lie on Fakebook Facebook, merely that there are things I am comfortable sharing here with a more select audience that I am sharing there.  Any thoughts? **looks meaningfully at the lone lurker reading this**

Oh my god you guys

Things are going quite well, Diego will be three months on Friday and Junior will be 3 on Wednesday. THREE. Wow, I can’t believe how quickly time flies when you are sleep deprived.  Diego is sleeping a lot better and work is going well.  My back up plan of becoming an heiress still has not come to fruition.

OH!! I got a Blackberry Torch…it is SO SEXY y’all. *chickychickybowwow*

Back to my little (big) man

I was going to use the other picture when he was baring his teeth

That picture reminds me of Halloween.  We were so excited because it was our first Halloween in our own house.  We got over 150 kids, the lady who lived there before us said she never got more than 10.  I’m so glad we were prepared for lots of kids (I figured if I didn’t get many it could all go in Junior’s pinatas.)  Nehemias followed a custom that he says is common in Mexico—he cooked for the parents. OMG HIS TAMALES ARE AMAZING! If we weren’t already married we would def be now.  We live in a small town 10 minutes from my rez so people didn’t think it was strange…although they were surprised.  The next day I lost count of the people that came up to me to rave about his cooking while I was running errands.

Anyway, back to Halloween. It ruled.

She couldn't decide on a costume

She kept changing her mind...

Until she went back to her first choice

My lil' punkin

Luckily there was a back up costume due to an unfortunate diaper explosion

Today was First Nation Remembrance Day here in Canada.  This is a link to my late Mosom’s story from 1999, he has passed on now but I think it deserves a click.