Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spookery

Ah, Halloween!  So much fun.  My favorite thing to do on Halloween is to hand out candy.  Since Brent started his current job I haven't been able to do it because he's been working every single year.  This year he was working day shift so I got everyone ready, set out the pumpkins and a bowl at the door, drove the kids to our friends' place for the annual pizza-dinner-then-trick-or-treat-extravaganza that we do, and traded off with Brent when he finished work at 6:30.  I dashed back to our house and am sitting in an extremely untidy living room (next to a kitchen that would make FlyLady faint), blogging and eating candy.  =)  I finally get to hand out candy again!!!  Although I missed the first half hour or so, I'm still getting a good amount of kids.  I love the costumes and the spookeriness and the smell of candles in pumpkins and the sound of fireworks.

It's POURING rain here, though.  So maybe this year it's not so much spooky as steamy.  In a non amorous way.  My cats are in a frantic state.  Oh!  That reminds me, here's a picture of my new kitten:


Her name is Sasha.  Isn't she cute?!  She's been awesome, and of course acting like a normal kitten, leaping out at everyone's ankles all the time, chewing my yarn, and getting into small spaces.  She's fully litter trained which is something that makes cats so much better than d. o. g. s. in my opinion.  You don't have to 'train' them, you just put litter out and they go.  Dump and go.  No warm poop in a bag, ever.  

She's chasing my ponytail as we speak.  Our other cat Paige is acting tormented in her soul that we brought another cat home.  Especially one that pounces.  Sasha is brazenly sleeping in Paige's bed and swatting her ears and hunting her tail... Paige is longsuffering.
Ah, cats.  And kittens!  They are my favorite.  Even when she chews my Malabrigo chunky that costs me $20 a ball.

Today was a long day.  My eyes are puffy.  I had a tiff with one of the teachers at school and had to go home and email them to say they were kinda out of line.  It was totally fine, but I did cry a lot.  I think my life group yesterday opened me up emotionally and I was just sorta sensitive (so that's the day someone chooses to tiff with you, right?  Murphy's Law), plus I hate to confront anyone on anything, particularly on my own behalf.  Treat my kid like crap and I'll call you on it.  Treat me like crap?  I'll probably just stutter.  Or be silent.  Anyway, I sent the email and received a sincere apology and apologized for my part in it, too.  It's totally settled but it still kind of threw me off.  I forgot to make myself coffee in the morning.  I kept getting somewhere and forgetting why I was there.
I went for a run though!  My first run since my concussion in August.  I surprised myself by running 6, walking 4; I figured with so long out of the running and starting back cold, in the pouring rain, with a stroller, short on sleep, and with puffy eyes, I wouldn't have it in me.  But I did!  I only did 3 rounds of 6+4 but it was an excellent start.
(We need a treadmill.  Rain sucks).

I shopped a bit for groceries and stuff, and picked up the kids from school.  I felt so out of it that I fed them a snack and let them play Wii for an hour while I curled up in bed and tried to fend off toddler requests to read books.  (Yes, I refused to read books to her.  Did I mention I was exhausted?  Yeah, that).

Then we went to our friends' house for Halloween celebrations, and the rest you know.

Except that I'm doula-ing again and my client is looking nesty.  *Pursed lips.*  I'm not prepared.  =/  Guess I better GET prepared.  

To finish, a quote from Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian doctor who champions peace:
A healthy society needs wise and educated women.  An educated and healthy woman will raise an educated and healthy family.  We need to link education with health care, and the most effective way to do that is to make sure that education and health care are available to women.  It's an investment... Removing the barriers that confront our women and girls could very well lead us to peaceful coexistence.


God Promises

Our church is awesome.  Full of amazing people and a desire for authenticity and being real and growing together.  Every Sunday when we go, I'm wrapped up in God's presence and immerse myself in it to steel myself against the coming week.  I've walked so much healing in that church.  I've been walking with God for a good many years and growing and learning, but I feel like I'm at a new chapter somehow, right now, this minute, this fall.  We've been going to this church since Riley was 18 months old and I've been able to move from living in crisis and hunkering down spiritually, to rebuilding the foundation of who I am.

I have been able to forgive myself for my total failures with Matthew.  Whenever I admit that to myself (meaning to feel relief wash over me), immediately I want to grab it back.  I've been whipping myself with it for so long that it feels like a familiar habit and I'm a bit lost without it.  And also, what is my identity if it is not Failed Parent?  But mostly, I feel like Matthew deserves to have me continue to feel deeply guilty with a raw, open wound, forever.
One day last winter, my pastor (my church is pentecostal, remember) said, "I have a word."  He actually says this fairly often, not every week or every service, but often enough that we all know what he means.  He means God is giving him a message, specific to someone in the congregation that day, at that time, in that service.  A small bit of love.  Sometimes challenging, sometimes not.  This day, I knew it was for me the instant he said "I have a word."  (Like God, busy with global warming and leprosy has time to speak to someone else for me, but He does)
"The word is forgiveness.  Someone here needs to forgive, to step out in forgiveness and into God's peace, love, and truth.  Forgive whoever it is you need to forgive, and move forward."
I needed to forgive myself.  And I finally did.

Anne Lamott says, "forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a different past," and she's right.  I wish I could have done it differently, but it is done and cannot be undone, no matter how hard I will it.  For some reason, we walked the journey we did, and now it is finished.  Carrying around my guilt serves no one.  It only brings the past, with all its raging horror, into the present.

Forgiveness comes in stages and I've been forgiving myself on deeper and deeper levels for years but I think I can finally feel it is finished at a foundational level.  And it has felt finished ever since that Sunday last winter when my pastor spoke about forgiveness.  (Relief washes over me).

I'm not a fair weather friend with God.  You know, the Christian who loves and is faithful when their life is good.
I'm also not a crisis shelterer with God.  You know, the Christian who dashes back to shelter in God's love when life is in crisis.
I'm a Christian when life is good, and when it is bad.  I draw on God continually in all the seasons of my life.  But I have felt like I was just 'getting by' spiritually for a long span of years, for legitimate reasons having to do with busyness of life and difficulty finding my spiritual groove and a desire for basic survival.  It is difficult with little ones underfoot all the time to carve out emotional, mental, or temporal space for a prayer more complicated than "HELP ME" or "THANK YOU" (which prayers Anne Lamott says ALL our prayers to God really boil down to).  But I want more than just scraping by spiritually.  God is a big part of my life story and my history, and I want to go deeper and learn more and have a deeper, fuller spiritual life like I have had in the past.  I've felt that way for awhile now and I felt some sort of spiritual foreshadowing of something to come all summer.  I didn't know what it would be or how I would get there, but I felt something brewing.  Then one Sunday early in September, a woman stood up to speak about a new women's group she was starting and how she felt like it was a leap of faith for her to start it, but she felt it was necessary.  She wanted to start a group where the women could really be authentic with each other and discover what their identity in Christ is and what our callings are, and how to make that a reality.  She said she was nervous because so far her life group had one person in it, besides herself.  And I wanted to go more than anything I've wanted in a very long time.  I grabbed her arm and introduced myself after church and told her I HAD to come to her group.  I just had to.  She of course laughed kind of nervously because I can come on a bit strong and it was awkward, but she took my email and the first group was that Tuesday. (There were eight of us).

The theme for September and October in our church has been the book of Haggai, and it has blown my mind upside down and out the back of my head.  Haggai describes how the Israelites had been conquered and taken away as slaves for an entire generation, but had returned, scattered, beaten down, and impoverished, to Jerusalem.  The temple was in ruins, and so was the city.  The people began to rebuild the city, bit by bit, making shelters for themselves and reconnecting with family members and repairing infrastructure.  Sixteen years after their return, God sent the prophet Haggai to admonish the people to rebuild the temple.
Sixteen years after their return, they had rebuilt their homes to the point of being able to put finishing touches on them, but they had not yet turned to the scattered remains of the temple itself, and Haggai's prophecy was to refocus their eyes on God.  Rebuild the temple, restore its former glory, move past your grief.  You have solved your basic needs of shelter and survival, now it is time to rebuild God's dwelling place.

The job seemed so daunting that it disheartened the Israelites when they turned to the job of rebuilding the temple.  They were enthusiastic, but overwhelmed.  Haggai returned with a second prophecy of encouragement and a reminder of God's central place in their community.

I kept hearing this story of the prophet Haggai (and I'm sure I butchered it, my apologies to Theologians), and thinking it resonated with my life.  Seven years ago my life was blown apart by a force bigger than myself or my family, I no longer recongized myself, I felt abducted by a foreign invader, and the family I loved and worked so hard to build was decimated.
I came back.  I got diagnosed.  I got treated.  I walked the path of forgiveness and joy and gave birth again and fell in love with my brown boy and wrestled anxiety stronger than a windstorm and gave birth yet again with so much peace, I rebuilt my home to a caring one, kind and noisy and fun and filled again with healthy, whole people.  And love.  You know?  I rebuilt my home.  And God was helping me every step of the way but now He's saying, go deeper.  Rebuild the temple.  Dig in, I have more for you.

This life group I found, with the women who want authenticity and to go deeper?  It blew my mind from the very first meeting.  We didn't ease in.  We exploded.  Every week someone shares their story, we respond a bit, share prayer requests, and pray for each other.  But I mean, shit goes down.  People share things they've never spoken out loud, there's naked souls everywhere, we pray over infertility, suicidal friends, dead babies, deep pain, and great joy.  It scares me how the air seems to spark with electricity in the room where we meet.  I've never been this wide open and immersed in God's presence in a life group before.  I've felt this way when I was dancing, back in University, sometimes.  Where you feel like the only thing that matters is God and you're so deep you don't care who is watching, or why.

People say things to each other and it feels like God is speaking.  Over and over.  There is unabashed crying.  There is total acceptance.  There is abundant love.  I've only known these women eight weeks!  How did this happen?  Well, I guess it was time to rebuild for more women than just me.  It's church, in the truest meaning of the word.  And I'm diving right in with four hundred feet, into the deep end, I don't care what I risk or what I lose in the process, I'm just so glad to feel alive.


I've been petrified for my turn to share my story.  It's a long one.  It's got mental illness and brokenness and mistakes and good intentions all over the place, and every time I thought of sharing my story with these women I felt nauseous and like I got punched in the gut.  Next week is my turn, and I started to cry tonight when it was time for prayer because I'm so afraid of being judged by these women, but I think I realized as they prayed for me that that nausea and gut fear I feel is from the same place that destroyed my mind and hurt my family seven years ago.  Fear can kiss my ass.  It has no place in my life anymore and although as an anxoid it will always be a part of my journey, it will not rule me again, and I WILL share my story and I WILL be okay.  I can even do it with joy, because God has carried me SO FAR in this short life.  SO DAMN FAR.

You know what God promises?  To never leave me or forsake me.  He hasn't.

Rebuilding.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Good Day. Some Sweating.

I'm on a blog roll (get it?), look at me post three times in three days!!!

Today was a really good day.  Woke up on time, got kids ready without incident, took older ones to school on time.
It was grandparent's day at preschool so Sharon and Leon both took the day off work and came by to take him to school and participate in Riley's special event.  I threw on some random clothes and stuffed my near afro into a ponytail, scooped Amarys and went to Old Navy.

See, today I had a pre screening test for a job I applied for, and I needed some interview-worthy clothes to wear to it.  Even if I didn't pass the screening test, I would need interview clothes anyways, because of course I'm on the prowl for a job.  Since we saved money the other day by NOT needing a van overhaul just yet, I could buy something to wear.  I own absolutely no interview worthy clothes, not even close.  I own two pairs of ill fitting and outdated blue jeans, one light blue, one dark.  I own two pairs of tights and three skirts: jean skirt, kakhi skirt, and flouncy blue flirty skirt.  And one summer dress.  I'm frequently short on clean laundry.  Old Navy is awesome, so off we went.

Shopping with Amarys is a trip.  She won't sit in the cart.  She won't follow where I want to go.  She wants to 'browse' the racks, drag pyjama bottoms I don't need around behind her, and touch everything.  Staying positive and patient and within eyesight is a stretch.  Plus, it has been so long since I shopped, I have no idea what size I am so I'm pulling three sizes of every item off the rack.  I had a huge pile of clothes to try on in the change room.

We get in the change room, and I lock the door and get the clothes organized.  Amarys climbs on and off the bench.  I start trying things on, Amarys gets off the bench as fast as she can and starts stripping.  Everything. Socks, shoes, tights, diaper, you name it.  She's naked.  And wants to try on pants.  Women's, size 10.  And is mad when she can't pull them up properly (!!!)
Meanwhile, I'm on a time crunch.  I have exactly one half hour to finish here and get home before Riley comes home from preschool, and I'm still planning on heading to Payless for some fancy boots.

I sweated.  But I had major success; two outfits to choose from, both interview worthy, and both look awesome, fit my body type, are sophisticated, and go with black boots, which I'm planning on buying.  I got a black knit dress with cowl neck, charcoal grey tights, two red tank tops/camis (regular $20, on for $5), an awesome charcoal sweater (regular $50 on for $20), and black skinny dress pants, stretchy.

I had zero time left but ran over to Payless anyways~I was hoping preschool would run late =)  I came in the door and the associate greeted me right away and totally helped me find the perfect boots in 5 minutes flat.  She helped me find insoles for comfort, and rang me up.  Presto, awesome black boots.

I rushed home and got there before Riley and his grandparents.  Hopped in the shower and got ready for my big test.  This test is for police dispatch in Brent's zone (Pay close attention, because I will not be able to blog about it at ALL if I get this job, and will likely have to come back and delete that info because this blog is public.  The r*cmp are sticklers about security, and I don't blame them.  It's why I never blog about my husband's job.  Which is very interesting and has some wildly funny stories, but what can you do?  No dice.

I took some careful pains with my appearance today, which was really quite nice, for a change.  =)  I did my hair in the proper curly way, with curl enhancer and spinning sections around my finger to make them curl in ringlets.  I tweezed my eyebrows.  (And my chin.  Love my beard.  LOVE IT).  I put on makeup.  REAL deodorant, since my Happy Pits stuff is AWESOME but kind of doesn't cut the mustard for this kind of stress.  I put on my new black dress.  My tights.  My boots.  Some sparkly dangly earrings.  It was awesome.

I switched purses.  Breathed deeply.  And went to my test.

I was so nervous!  It was wild.  When I left BC Ambulance I kind of figured I wouldn't have to go through this type of a process again, but here I am.  I had kind of thought I would either go academic, self employed, midwifery, or something that didn't really require an employer, but I knew it was a possibility I might need to.  And the test I did today is notoriously difficult.  It tests multi tasking ability, speed, accuracy, decision making, prioritization, discernment, data entry, spelling, reading comprehension, map reading skills; you name it, it's on that test.  And you have to MULTI task, lemme tell you.  It was 2 hours plugged into a headset and on a computer, doing test after test after test.  I needed 80% to pass, in order to be eligible for an interview. I'm usually a good test taker.  I do well on standardized tests, whether multiple choice, essay, practical skills, or anything in between.  This test made me sweat bullets.

I worked hard, paid close attention, did the practice bits they allowed for, and was the last one to leave the room.

By the time I got home, I had an email waiting for me, inviting me to an interview on MONDAY!  I passed!  Hip hip hooray!

Oh, and everyone else was wearing jeans and sneakers, and their hair looked like they fell out of bed and came to the test.  I was way overdressed.  But I was like, seriously?!?!  Do you want this job or not?  You don't show up for ANYTHING job application related wearing friggin jeans and sneakers.  Apply some lip gloss, maybe mascara?  Run a comb through your hair?  Make an effort.

Not judging.  Totally not.

But I probably overshot the dress code.  Oh well.  Better over than under, in that circumstance.  Cross your fingers for me: Monday is ONE of TWO interviews, after which I will find out either way.  It's kind of an info session and interview rolled into one.

Pros of this job:
Interesting.
Pay is awesome.
I like shift work (call me crazy, you'd be right).
It is close by (closer than Chilliwack).
I could work with hubby a bit sometimes.
Challenging.
Career that helps people in crisis, I really like those jobs.
Transferable (possibly) if needed.
Not on a set schedule (I like this, too).
Different from my last job, but uses a ton of my skill set from previous job.

Cons:
Daycare will be a logistical nightmare.
Stressful.  Well, not really but on the higher end of stressful in the jobs I was applying for or interested in.
Might not see a paycheque before Christmas.

Clearly it is a good opportunity.

I came home, Brent took off for a night shift, and I cleaned up and served dinner (Until dinner, I had eaten only one orange all day.  I was too nervous and busy to eat).  I had organized a babysitter for tonight, and I went to a play with Brent's mom and sister.  It was so fun!  And so nice to go out and do an artsy thing with the girls.  We had a great time.

I came home and Amarys had waited up for me.  Stinker.  She konked in about three seconds with boob and cuddles, and now I'm blogging.  Sweet, sweet day.

Wish me luck, peeps.  If this isn't the job for me, it needs to be very clear.  Pray hard.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mellowing

Some things that I have learned in the past few years;

-I'm happy I gave birth in the hospital.  I am.  Most of the time, birth is not a medical event, but sometimes it is, and mine were.  Period.  I've come to terms with that to the point where I'm actually GLAD it happened the way it did.  All three times.

-I'm a better parent to Matthew at eight than I was Matthew at two.  We "fit" better now.  It is okay to not like some stages (THIS is a revelation), and the future is always bright.  This helps me when I want to bite my daughter's face in frustration over some drama.

-Being flexible is pretty key.  Like last winter when I resigned from my job and we tried having one income.  And it totally didn't work.  So I'm job hunting, not just for a few dollars here and there, but for a full time job.
I don't regret leaving my previous job, or trying the SAHM gig for a year.  I'm simply being flexible.

-I have four kids and three pets, and nobody's dying.  Who knew I could pull that off?

-Rabbits can live way past their life expectancy.  And poop on the floor.  Panbeh is eight years old.  Rabbits usually live 3 to 4 years.  (!!!)

-If I can survive yesterday, I can survive anything.  Here's a rundown:

First crisis was at 7:45 a.m. when I woke up and realized we all slept in.  I had to get four kids fed, dressed, teeth brushed, lunches packed (x3), and out the door by 8:15.  Um.

We arrived late.

We got to preschool on time, since it starts after the elementary school.  However, I forgot a form I was supposed to fill out.

I took Amarys to Strong Start and she peed through her diaper and leaked all over her pants.

She screamed in the carseat and smacked me in the face when I tried to talk her down.

We picked Riley up and agreed to a playdate at Captain Kid's.  I dashed home to shower before said playdate, because my Happy Pits natural deodorant is clearly not designed for 18 hour protection.  Broke a plate.  Not in the shower.  Ran out of shampoo.  Used husband's shampoo, making me smell like a man.

Cleaned up rabbit diarrhea.

Cleaned up Amarys pee.

Go to throw crock pot ingredients into crock pot for dinner, and realize I forgot to thaw the meat.  You can put frozen meat in a crock pot but it takes longer to cook, which will put dinner at precisely 10 pm.  Gave up on dinner.  Resolved to solve that problem later.

Rushed to playdate.

Drove to school to pick up older boys, arrive early.  YES!  Score spot in drive thru driveway RIGHT by Matthew's classroom door.  Turn off van but turn on radio.

Get chastised by Matthew's teacher for not returning his interim report card, which I've never seen.  Matthew loses important shit like it's going out of style.

Realize I'm 2 days late turning in their photo order forms (can I just say how much I detest school photos?  The photos suck and they're fucking expensive).  Grrr.

Gather children, backpacks, snacks, permission slips, homework, ukelele, load in the van, go to leave and... clickclickclickclickclick.  Oh MY GOSH.  My van has broken down in the driveway of the school, with four hungry children in it.  We live 1.6 kilometers from our school and I have no stroller and there's no way Amarys is walking that far.  Besides, the van can't STAY HERE.

This happened in July when we went camping, remember?  So I figure, all I need is a jump.  I go ask at the office if anyone has jumper cables and the principal gets on the PA and announces my need for jumper cables to the whole. Damn. School.  I was so embarrassed.

Anyways, no one had jumper cables so I dug around in the trunk and realized I had some.  The first person to volunteer as my charged battery didn't know how to pop the hood on her Jeep (pardon?) and after several minutes of hunting and getting the custodian searching for it, we gave up on her and moved on to Matthew's teacher's car.  She's about 18 years old (kidding, but this is her second year of teaching so she's not much older that Matthew, ha ha) so of course she has this cute little car.  It didn't WORK!  We tried so many times and different variations and all we got was clickclickclickclickclick.  Foobar.

Eventually we gave up.  She offered to loan me her car to get my hungry kids home, but it doesn't have enough seat belts of course.  In the end I split them up, older and younger, older and younger, and drove them home in her car in two shifts.  I figured Matthew could 'watch' Riley for ten minutes while I did the round trip for the other two (I was wrong.  I came home to an angry Riley and Matthew with a bump on his head from Riley's Wii remote.  Provoked, of course), and Ayden could definitely watch the now sleeping Amarys in the van in the school driveway while I did the round trip with the other two.  Presto.

So I got them home but I still had 2 problems: (a) my vehicle was still broken.  In the driveway of the school.  And (b) I now had the teacher's car at my house.

My mother in law works about 10 minutes from our house so I called her and she offered to come by after work and drive me to the school so we could return the teacher's car.  Fortunately Matthew's teacher was planning on working til about 5 pm so the timing worked well.  Then my mother in law offered to use her BCAA membership to fix/tow my van.  HUGE blessing, and very gracious.

In the meantime I had to find a ride for Ayden to the church for drama practice, and figure out HOW to get Matthew to soccer photos on the other side of Langley at 5:45.

Phone church children's director.  No answer.  Email my friend Rebecca, who is also involved in the Christmas drama and lives somewhere where we're on her way to church.  No answer.

Email Matthew's coach.  We might not make it.  Van broke down.  Husband at work.  Boo hoo.  Slightly hoping he might offer to pick Matthew up and drive him.  No answer.

Church pastor phones back, hears my story, phones Rebecca for me (I didn't have her phone number: in my defense she's a NEW friend, you don't always exchange phone numbers RIGHT OFF THE BAT), arranges a ride, and Rebecca phones me for directions.  My directions suck and she gets lost but still manages to find us.

Brent's mom arrives, drives behind me (in teacher's car) back to the school to drop off the car and call BCAA for my van.  She shoos me home to watch the kids and try and fix kids' activities problems.

Rebecca arrives.

BCAA comes to the school, cleans off the corroded connection on my van battery, jumps it, starts it, and drives away.  Brent's mom drives my van back to my house, it's 5:15 and I have to leave NOW if I have any hope of getting to soccer photos on time.  I've removed ALL the carseats from the van in case it needs towing and mechanical fixing for who-knows-how-long and they are scattered all over the front lawn.

Load carseats.  Load younger kids.  Help Matthew locate all the various soccer uniform parts, why oh why oh why, tie his cleats, load him in van, leave at 5:35.  Brent's mom follows us in case of breakdown.  I still have no idea what the hell I'm going to feed people for dinner.

Arrive at photo place at 5:50, a minor miraculous tesseract event in and of itself, knowing we probably missed photos by nanoseconds.  One of the other dads from our team waves us over (I found a parking spot VERY CLOSE!  And my mother in law ran over to watch the younger kids so I could just hop out with Matthew!), says "Run in now, they are JUST about to go in!!!"

Matthew's doing the typical we-are-in-a-hurry-so-suddenly-I-have-no-idea-how-to-move-quickly thing.  I push him gently from behind, he runs one and a half steps, then slugs again.  Cement feet.  I dig my finger in the muscle between his shoulder blades and hiss RUN!  Not my best parenting moment, but we DID squeak in there JUST as his team was walking from the staging area into the photo room =p

The van was still running, to recharge the battery.

The kids were still starving.

We had no food.

See, the thing about being house poor is that we save money by cooking from scratch.  A lot.  However, this makes preparing food take a bajillion years.  My fastest recipe takes half an hour.  (Spaghetti).  Fortunately, we finally got paid for some overtime Brent did in JUNE (don't get me started on that animal jam.  Bloody employers) so we had some actual money in our actual bank account, and I phoned Brent on my way home from soccer photos and asked him to order pizza and pick it up on his way home from work.

Voila, dinner.

The best part about this whole shebang?  I didn't get anxious once.  I just rolled with it.  Two things helped immensely with that: (a) we actually had money in the bank, so if it was anything under $200, we could afford a crisis.  And (b) so many people helped us!  Matthew's teacher, the principal, Brent's mom, my friend Rebecca, the church pastor, BCAA (it's their job, but still!), Brent's mom, Brent's mom, Brent's mom!!

If you gotta have a crisis, at least surround yourself with amazing people, right?!

SO.  From this I learned that I have mellowed.  Pretty cool.  ♥

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Update

I'm sorry it has been so long since I posted.  And even longer since I wrote something interesting.  I'm okay! Just busy.

We got a kitten!  She's so cute.  Her name is Sasha and she is 8 weeks old.  We brought her home on Saturday.  Photos to come...
(I've determined I'm really a cat person.  No offense to dogs).

I gave our rabbit a bath today.  HOMYGOSH was that ever high on the list of disgusting things I've done in my life.  His poop gets matted in his fur.  Let's leave it at a tub with two inches of poopy soup and a thumping rabbit.  =S  Matthew wanted to bring Panbeh to school for show and tell, and he also wanted the poop washed off, first.  Moms are superheros.

I'm still job hunting.  Still broke.  I got called back for testing for a police dispatch job, so fingers crossed it works out.  Also still applying for other stuff.

Amarys has developed a hate on for the carseat; she loses her shit like I've never seen a toddler LOSE HER SHIT, on random days for no apparent reason, when we put her in it.  She gets hoarse.  She really loses control, and if we pull over (which we do when she loses control because that's just frightening for her) she calms down, has a break, and then loses her shit again when we put her back in it.
Because I really need this in my life.
Because I can totally work around it and just never drive anywhere in a vehicle (!!!!!!!!?????????!??)

I've come up with a creative solution, though.  Toddlers love choices.  Amarys ESPECIALLY loves choices, since organizing her little environment is pretty important to her.  So I've installed our extra carseat in the van, in our final remaining empty seat, and each time we load, she can choose where to sit.  Awesome pants.  So far, so good, but with Amarys anything is possible and sometimes it takes five or six times of her CHANGING HER BLOODY MIND to get her settled.  But at least there's no screaming.  Holly Fook that was stressful.  I'm pretty sure the rest of us have suffered some hearing damage from that scenario.  Dead serious, that girl can SCREAM.  And I was worried about her body.  She was pulling against the belts so hard and flipping her body around so much I was worried she would get bruises or hurt her internal organs.

I thought I was so experienced as a parent.  And then God gave me an Amarys. O_o

My sister moved far away.  That sucks.  I miss her, I miss my nephew, I miss her better half, I miss them all. Not that I saw them more often when they lived closer; it was the illusion that I COULD see them that reassured me.  Although now we are nearing the end of Brent's committed time in Surrey, so we are ramping up our campaign to move to a smaller community in a more rural area.  We applied for nearly every small town or remote posting between here and the Yukon border (and even several North of the Yukon border). Our top pics would be anywhere on Vancouver Island, and anywhere in the Okanagan.  But now, because my sister moved there, we also applied for Fernie (on the BC/Alberta border).  And also the village where my brother lives, with my niece and sister in law.
We want out.  We want financial breathing room.  We want room for our kids to free range a little more freely.  We want smaller town.  We want adventure.  We are wide open for any possibility =)

In other news, I got a crock pot.  You can't see it, but I'm DANCING because i love this thing so much.  On nights where the kids are busy with activities and I'm driving to and fro, it will save us all from eating at 7:30.  I LOVE IT!  And it cooks a roast very very nicely.  YUMMY.  It's huge, since there are so many of us, (7 quarts), and I did scalloped potatoes in it the other day for Brent's birthday?  AWESOME!!!  And you know when you do a big family dinner with extended family and you plan the different stuff but there's always a mad dash at the end, and oven space is at a premium?  This pot helps in a very huge way.  You do one dish ahead of time, set the temperature for low and the timer for however many hours, and it cooks for you.  It clicks automatically to warm mode when the cook time is up.  I got it at Costco and it is VERY BORING to include in a blog post but I love it that much that I don't care.  =)

Matthew is doing AMAZING at school.  There are a lot of caps in this post.  But he really is!  His teacher said at our IEP meeting, "This boy I'm reading about in the reports from previous years is not the attentive, kind little boy in my class."  Yup, yup she did.  I'm no longer the parent of a bully.  And academically his learning assistance teacher said, "I see no reason why we can't have him reading at grade level by the end of the year (that is HUGE folks, since in September he was tested at early grade one level.  That's nearly three years of catch up in ONE YEAR).  I said to his principal, "Wow, what a testament for treatment for ADHD."  And you know what he said?  With 100% sincerity, he looked me in the eye and said, "It's a testament for your parenting.  This kid knows where he belongs.  He knows he is loved."  And that right there?  The antidote for all my fear, all my anxiety, all my anger and OCD and hyperworry and pain since the day we brought Matthew home.  That's my bottom line, that's what makes me tick as a parent, that's my success.
I will be writing a post dedicated to ADHD thus far, but that's the goods for now.

Ayden has been diagnosed with anxiety.  We are giving him iron supplements, vitamin D, and fish oils, and working through the Worry Dragons book and workbook.  He's really excited about the Worry Dragons, it totally helps him feel empowered and understood.  Fifty nine thumbs up!  He's doing really well, also.  He loves school, loves swimming lessons, loves Ukelele lessons (!!! Who knew?), and ran cross country on the track team in September.

Riley is pretty awesome, too.  He's being rather disobedient and precocious (which gets under my skin) but he's also learning his letters at school, and is in that cute, awesome, totally annoying stage where he wants to know "How you spell" EVERYTHING, but doesn't know all his letters so you wind up writing them out and he copies them.  He's also Amarys' best buddy.  He loves to draw.  He loves clothes.  He loves pink and purple and dirt and tractors and garbage trucks and sparkly things and my little ponies and legos.  Same as always.  He has trouble saying goodbye when we drop him off at preschool, so we came up with a system: we drop him off, stay a minute or two, and leave before the bell rings.  He also has a photo of me inside his lunch box, so he can look at it if he misses me (he picked out the photo).  Awesome pants.

Amarys is... well, she's Amarys.  See the above carseat fiasco and multiply it by everything she does.  O_o  Can't wait til she's two!!!  No sarcasm there.

That's it.  I'm off to make bread.  I hate making bread.  Goodbye.  =)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sibling Love at Our House

Guess whose idea this was?

"Riley I bet you can't eat your corn with a fork!"




Underwear dufus

Underwear dufus #2

Not a sibling photo, but gorgeous nonetheless.  I never care about my boob on the internet.  Lol.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

On Frustration, Fitness, and Identity

Update on fitness;

I'm sure you have noticed I stopped posting about my fitness goals.  Or maybe not =p  Anyways, in mid August when I managed to give myself a concussion while gardening in my front yard (who does that?  Seriously), I killed my fitness thing.  I could barely walk down the block to collect the mail.  I had to stop running and biking.

We went to Oregon for our final camping trip (I'm still needing to post about that, but it's my last summer post and will come soon!) and Brent packed.  I would lie down for about half an hour, get up and do a task like laundry or feeding the kids a snack, and then lie down again for another half hour.  I felt terrible, but I couldn't do ANYTHING to prepare for our big trip.  Brent is amazing.  It is rare for me to be laid flat like that, but when I am ~including when I give birth, when I had a hard time adjusting after adopting, when I had major post partum anxiety after Riley was born, and when I am really badly SICK~ Brent really steps up.  He is always a generous and patient guy, but he is remarkable when I'm sick.  Or INJURED by my front garden.

Traveling to Fort Stevens in Oregon was a five hour trip that wiped me out.  You would think that sitting in a vehicle would be the perfect activity for a recovery but you would be wrong.  The first thing I did when we got to Oregon was lie down and go to sleep.  That's the thing about concussions: you have to sleep a lot.

So at the beginning of the week I could not walk down the beach further than about 50 feet.  Forget hiking.  Forget balancing on a bike.  Forget everything.
By the end of the week I had healed remarkably, which I attribute to my amazing hubs and all the rest I got, and my amazing naturopath and all the anti inflammatory supplements she gave me.  However, I still couldn't ride my bike or even think of running.  So rather than torture myself, I stopped stepping on the scale.  I gave myself a break, and although I've been SUPREMELY frustrated that my slow start after Amarys' birth was truncated by my knee injury and then yet again by my concussion, I've been being kind to myself.  Fitness will come.

A nice side effect of needing copious amounts of rest for my concussion is that my knee finally healed!  It was getting angry with me for my fitness challenge workouts over the summer, and I was having to cross train a ton because of it.  But the rest was just what it needed.  I guess it figures for a bone injury, but I was having a hard time with how LONG it was taking for it to heal and was getting worried.  It just needed more time.  Finally, I can actually touch it without hitting the ceiling.  And just yesterday I kneeled on it, and didn't die.  In fact, I can poke it and it doesn't hurt at all.  I'm suspicious that I did in fact break something in there initially, but by the time I got an x-ray nine weeks later, it had healed.  Stupid me.  But the part that took forever to heal was the medial miniscus injury.  Woah nelly, did that hurt.

So, summary?  I fell off the fitness wagon.  For legitimate reasons.  I have gone on 2 bike rides and felt excellent, so I may even be up to running sometime soon, and I will get back on the fitness wagon again.


Since I decided to go back to work and have been searching and applying (and turned down one opportunity which was lovely but not the best fit for either of us), I've been relishing preparing to re enter the non parenting saturated world.  Most of the people I will work with, likely, will be parents.  I will still BE as much a parent as I was before.  And most of my life will be occupied with caring for my lovely kids.  But it is nice to look forward to something beyond parenting, in a way.  And suddenly, lots of women I know are saying the same thing.

Is it a case of noticing when others go through similar things you yourself are going through?  Like when you get pregnant and all you see everywhere you go is pregnant women?  Yeah, that.  My cousin said it at literal mama recently.  Theresa said it at HHWHMommy.  Lots of times recently I've been finding myself impatient at navel gazing parenting.  Because there's more to life.  But then I really need my parent friends because it's a tough slog, this parenting thing.  We have a groove, Brent and I, but it's always getting shaken up.  By things like nine year olds who don't eat.  ADHD.  Babies who don't sleep.  Injuries.  Shift work.  Violence amongst our children.  Anxiety.  Showers that leak into garages.  A forever string of financial difficulties.  Anyways, I need my navelgazing parenting sources so much, for wisdom and support.  But I think I also need to remember who I was before.  And working and expanding my life in necessary ways beyond the parenting joy/slog trenches might just do that.

I'm going to have to subtract a LOT from my life, to work the amount of hours that I need to work to make a difference in our income.  Childcare for four kids is going to cost me between $45 and $90 per day, so I have to work full time (or close to)  in order to make it worthwhile to work at all.  I will probably have to give up Mothers of Change.  NPN.  Making bread.  (That's okay, I hate making bread anyways).  Facebook?  Maybe.  Never the blog.  Possibly book club.  Maybe etsy.  But in return?  I will step back into a role I have always supremely valued; helping provide for my family financially in a significant way, and I will be able to be who I was before, again.

I was always more than a mom.  But this will help me to maintain that role.  And oh, my gosh, will it be freeing to be able to buy milk AND gas without subtracting from some imperative part of the budget.  And go on a date?  Wow.

You know what I'm hugely looking forward to?  Getting pretty again.  Man it has been years, but I LOVE to express my personality through my clothes, hair, shoes, and style.  We haven't had money for that in eons.  And when we had more?  Who did I have to dress up for?

I want to get my eyebrows threaded.  I want to get my nails done.  I want to get my hair cut every 10 weeks.  I want to have more than one pair of shoes.  I want to own more than two pairs of pants.  I need a new bathing suit.  I want to paint my toenails again.  I want to wear makeup to work, which will mean buying actual makeup.  On our anniversary I pulled out my mascara and it was all dried up.  BOO.

Is this all selfish?  It feels incredibly so.

I want to parent.  I want to work.  I want to paint incredible life changing art.

If I do these things?  I will have no regrets at the end of it all.  Oddly, adding work to my life will help me pare down and focus my energy on these three things, rather than scattered every which way and LOVING every one of the many things I'm involved in but spread thin nonetheless.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

More Summer Joy

After our Otter Lake travels and anniversary celebration, we had a week and a half at home.  Ayden was supposed to have baseball camp but it was cancelled!  So we hung around, hit the water park a few times, slept in, rode bikes, and enjoyed the weather.  This summer was amazing.  Every single day.


Amarys fell in love with bike riding.  She was so cute at Otter lake, we brought this little red bike pictured here, and she rode around so serious.  She wore her helmet all the time (she still does), calling it her "hat."



She also wanted to go everywhere with me; the tap, the bathrooms, the garbage bins.  If I went to the bathrooms without her, she was overjoyed when I came back, shouted, "Mommy!!!" gleefully, and threw up her arms for a hug.  Every time.  What a greeting, especially after just having been to the toilet!

Anyways, back home...
Her brothers are so busy on the bikes, it is hard to get a decent photo of them!



So I made a video.  =)

It's really cute, and only 2 1/2 minutes.  Enjoy!




After

On Riley's birthday.  I think I fell asleep at 4:30, and then my alarm went off at 5:05 to take his photo

My sister Megan and baby Oliver came over to help celebrate Riley's birthday

His brothers rode bikes to the corner store and bought him some birthday candy with their own money





What better way to end your birthday than jumping on the bed?
Also; Matthew got stung by a wasp he was trying to capture, and his hand swelled up pretty horribly;



I have a similar reaction when I get stung, and my dad is severely allergic to hymenoptera stings.  I'm assuming Matthew might be, too?  Although just his hand swelled this time so hopefully not.  He's not keen on that epi pen of his.  I gave him benadryl but it only helped a little.  Any natural remedies for next time?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

On War. And Taking Up Arms.

Last winter I watched a movie that deeply disturbed me.  In fact, I still have dreams about it.  The movie is an adaptation of the book by Tatiana De Rosnay, "Sarah's Key,"  and is a devastating story of a family in Paris during the summer of 1940, rounded up to spend endless days in an overheated stadium and eventually transported to a concentration camp.  When the occupiers arrive at her apartment to round up her family, little Sarah hides her two year old brother in a closet, for his safety.  He dies in there.  And Sarah spends the ensuing two thirds of the movie fighting to escape and return to Paris and release him, and then the remainder of the movie an empty vessel, destroyed by the fact of his death.

It was wretchedly inhumane to be a parent and sit through this movie.  I'm positive it would be equally so if you are not a parent, but there is a depth of terror that you experience as a parent when faced with this type of subject because suddenly, you have so much to lose.  There is literally no time after welcoming a child into your arms that you will be fully solitary again, and fear of mortality runs deep, because it involves you, plural.

This is about more than fear of mortality, though.  It is fear of evil.  I can handle all kinds of tragic, but evil?  It wrecks me.

There is nothing, nothing preventing this from happening to me and my family that was not present in France in 1939.  This truth struck me hard when I watched Sarah's Key, and I think it was because I was able to articulate a realization that has been slowly unfolding for the past several years:

The rise of National Socialism in Germany and its spread throughout Europe like an opportunistic disease and the ensuing murders, genocide, starvation, torture, scientific experimentation, and utter evil there happened in the recent past.

I've read many books on the holocaust and watched numerous movies and studied it many times in school and on my own and visited holocaust museums dedicated to ensuring that it never happens again, and always, always, I was utterly sure it would not.  For WWII is in the past!  It is ancient history.  It was two generations ago and we are so much more civilized now.  (Youthful arrogance).  But of course, the older I grow the more I realize how bloody recent this era was.  Seventy years is nothing.  It's a heartbeat.  It is yesterday.  It is tomorrow.  It is now.


I used also to be a pacifist.  At no time and under no circumstances was taking up arms en masse and advancing into sovereign territory an ethical action.  Now I believe the opposite.  Under MANY circumstances is it ethical to fight WITH ARMS for what is good and right in the world, and indeed I consider it deeply unethical not to.  What changed my mind?  Maturity. Cognitive dissonance.  Romeo Dellaire's book, Shake Hands With the Devil, outlining the world's apathetic non response to the Rwandan crisis and genocide.  Mike Rossiter's Bomber Flight Berlin.  Visiting the Killing Fields in Cambodia when I was there in 1994.  The movie Machine Gun Preacher (you ever want a trip down Morally Ambiguous?  Watch that movie.  With an open mind).

By no means do I endorse EVERY war, and in particular I do not in any way endorse the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (both of which have large numbers of Canadian troops deployed on active tours).  (And please do not take that to mean I do not support said soldiers; au contraire.  I do, indeed, and believe their job to be of the highest order).  But here is the thing: at first glance in the mid 1930s, would fighting in Europe have seemed morally ambiguous?  Indeed it would.  And absolutely it was the first war in our country's history that involved killing so many civilians.  Massive numbers.  Droves.  Is there a universal scale upon which ethics is measured, which tips when you fight for good but suddenly you are ensnared in the evil and stoop to a level previously unimaginable and entirely animalistic in its nature?  Is there a threshold of death beyond which you are as bad as your enemy?  Can we be good people and murder each other?  Can we do it in the name of justice and goodness and call it ethical?

I would say: absolutely.  But don't expect to come out unscathed.  There's no undoing what has been done.

Can you look in the face of a child incorporated by war and say, I disagree with what is being done to you, yet I refuse to fight to make it stop and walk away unaltered?  For that is evil, too.  Passive inaction in the face of evil is complicit action on behalf it.

My grandfathers fought in that war in Europe.  They were ridiculously young.  Little boys, barely growing into their adult bodies, flying blind in a bank of fog~and for what?  To be shot down out of the sky?  To drop their bombs on the European countryside in repeated fruitless attacks that missed their urban marks.  To kill too many civilians to count.  To kill children in order to save children.

I'm very proud that my grandfathers fought.  I'm glad they battled back a force of evil so black it still haunts us seventy years later, and which reigned so briefly and so strong.  But you can see that I wrestle with the moral ambiguity in fighting at all.  There is some pacifist still alive in me, in my bones.  But there's also a resistance fighter.

I also wrestle with that black, evil force in me.  The potential is in all of us to be Dalai Lama and also Pol Pot.  Sometimes it is so hard to know, is action or inaction the ethical choice?  Here, now, today.  Without the hindsight of decades of analysis and combing of records and trying of war criminals.


 Dalai Lama says, As compassion grows stronger, so does your commitment to the welfare of all beings, even if you have to act alone. 


This is true.  It is also true that to fight for a child to live, grow, learn, and love, is good.  To take up arms in defense of that child; whether she lives in the Congo or in your own home, is good.  Do we not all have the responsibility to defend and protect the small and vulnerable habitants of the world?  Now, extend that.  Do we not all have the responsibility to act defensively to protect an entire family, living in Paris in 1940?  How about a Cambodian man in Angora Wat in 1975?

I can't get Sarah's Key out of my head.  I just can't shake it; it  returns to me in my dreams and it haunts me how recent it was, that all this happened.  How much we cannot undo.  How small we are, and how much we have to lose.