Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My Fabulous Little Thleeping Beauty

Never in my life have I looked this spectacular asleep. Or awake. I love her, I love her, I love her.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Few Things You Might Take For Granted About Your Child... But Shouldn't

Each and every giggle, chuckle, full blown belly laugh. Savour the sound as you would the most wonderful thing you've ever tasted.

Eye contact. Don't just glance, or look. Gaze, study, and absorb.

All the different scents. From the just played outside sweaty stinky to the sweet clean after bath or shower loveliness, to the hint of the personal one of a kind heaven fragrance that lingers since their newborn days. It does.

The feel. All the boney, squishy, soft, solid bits you get in just a single short hug.

The hair. Smell it, stroke it, brush it, and at least sometimes, just let it do the wild thing it naturally does. Trace the cowlicks and curls and memorize them.

The warm skin against your lips, on those soft cheeks and sweet foreheads. Feel it as often as you possibly can.

At least every day, say I love you. But more importantly, make sure it is heard. Every day. Every day.

Move heaven and earth to say good night. Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, whenever even slightly possible, stop. And say good night.

Throw a ball, jump on a trampoline, go for a walk, sing a song loudly, laugh about nothing, change batteries in a toy, take pictures... not next weekend. This weekend. Not tomorrow. Today.

That one cd. You're so sick of it, but really you love it. You do. Same with that one book.

Laundry. Every once in a while, hug a shirt because it came through the pile again.

Jars of milk and containers of crackers disappearing so quickly that you have to go to the store again. Go to the store again.

Beautiful eyes meeting yours in the rear view mirror of the car while you drive.

Being close enough to feel warm little breaths on your face or neck.


The focused, intimate, individual, sacred time that is spent in times of sickness or struggle.

Being taught when you thought you were teaching.

Forgiveness. How quickly it comes. How pure it is.

That filthy tattered blanket or stuffed toy that you wish you could just toss. Don't even think about it.

School carpool lines.

People, places, songs, movies, stories that otherwise never would have been a part of your life.

The quirks or peculiarities that slow things down or drive you crazy. They are really brushstrokes that create the uniqueness and beauty.

Worn through knees in pants, stained shirts, holes in socks.

How much of your heart is alive and well because of that unconditional and perfect love coming to you. To have it is miraculous.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Sometimes, I Just Write

I will still write. Not about Noah. Not here. Not for probably a long time. Or maybe ever. But about other things. And about my other 5 children. This does not in any way mean I'm good, or over it, or healing, or moving on or whatever other ridiculous assumption some may make. It just means I'm writing. I'm recording. That's what I've always done. Even if it's a few sentences scrawled on the back of  a scrap of paper. It helps me not go completely crazy. But it doesn't 'mean' anything. There are just still things happening around me, the kids still say sweet or funny things, and I have to notice. They have to know that at least in moments, I still see them, they still make sense even though nothing else does right now. They are why I breathe in one more time, and then one more time...

No words of wisdom or inspiration.

No deep dark anything.

Some things have to be, and have to stay, private, and close to your heart. And now, there are so, so many of those things.

So I will just, sometimes, simply, write.

About Marley. About her begging for a pet.

M: Mum, I can't have a cat becauthe they give you allergieth.
Me: That's right, babe.
M: But are you allergic to dogth?
Me: To some dogs, yes.
M: Well can I have a hamthter?
Me: Even hamsters are a lot of work, honey.
M: But Mum. I will feeeed hiiiim, and take him for waaaalkth...

Marley putting a leash on her hamster and taking it for a walk. It's not going to happen, poor thing, but the visual is a happy one.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

No Words

My beautiful Noah Blake. Our family will never be the same. I post only because it must be recorded, but I cannot write anything more. My world has been shaken beyond all words.

February 25, 2003- November 16, 2013


August 16, 2013

This beautiful perfect baby joined our family. Theo Henry. We are all completely smitten.
I will write more about him sometime soon. He is an absolute angel and saving grace.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Baby, Name Thyself.

By now, most people that know me know there's a small human growing inside me who will make his or her appearance in August. We- no, let's be honest here- I decided to not find out the sex of this baby in advance of small human's birth. I have 4 boys and one girl, and while those stats make me lean heavily in favour of this being a boy, I want to meet this person all at once. No preconceived notions about who or what they'll be. We've mostly not waited in the past, but I've got to say, waiting kind of rocks.

With the last baby, even though we knew we were having a boy, I had some trouble with settling on a name. Like 5 weeks of trouble. There had been no difficulty or delay with the four kids before that, but last time, everything felt wrong. So I am sure there are those who are skeptical that this baby will have a name before he or she is old enough to pick out his or her own moniker. Rest assured, there will be none of this back and forth wishy-washiness come August. I think we've pretty much decided on boy, even though it will possibly raise a few eyebrows, and girl is probably 90% set as well, and I am certain some will hate it.

See, the problem was, I got too much input last time, both before and after baby's arrival. Mix that in with hormones, sleeplessness, and a name that just wasn't him, and you get a giant sprinkle-covered pile of crazy. I have mentioned that I have a penchant for baby names, baby name books, websites, discussion boards and lists, which is a fun, weird hobby for me, but not as fun when I am trying to name an actual person. There are too many opinions on any name you like: too short, too long, too nickname-y, too formal, too posh, too chavvy (look it up), a dozen people in someone's neighbourhood have a dog with that name, too popular, too weird, too feminine/masculine, too dated, too made-up, too young, too old lady/man, too much teasing potential, too cutesy... it's neverending. And I have those thoughts about names, I just don't like anyone having them about my names.

I think for a moment last time around, I thought I could actually choose a name that would be universally adored. But you can't. And the difference this time is, I just don't care. I've looked up our front-runners on some favourite name websites, and am finding the more negative remarks I read, the wider I smile. Our names only have to fit our kids, not yours. I put so much thought into naming my kids, there is meaning and significance in each of their names, and this time will be no different. So we're not open to suggestions or discussion. I will answer a limited number of questions about which names it's not, but that's about it. And just to get things started, we will not be using Katniss, Dasten, Truleean or Greighcyn. And yeah, somebody else did.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


We're moving in about 3 and a half weeks. I had been searching for somewhere to move once our contract here ends in April, and was becoming worried since I just wasn't finding anything. Granted, it's difficult to find something big enough for us, where there is room for the husband to work (he works primarily from home) without the whole household being disrupted, at least a bit of a yard, a fence, in a good location, and for the right price. We're not an easy bunch to house. But even so, we're in a pretty large-family-friendly area, and I thought there would be more to choose from. Months of classifieds, craigslist, and driving around to look at houses yielded nothing that would work.

A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine mentioned that she thought there might be something in her neighbourhood. Several phone calls and a few days later, I went and looked at the house, later that day sent Jeremy to look at the house, and by the next day we had decided that was where we needed to be. It's further out than we were wanting to be, and there may be some minor space challenges, but with perks like lower rent, a neighbourhood pool, and dear and long-time friends living near-by, we would have been nuts not to grab it.

It should be an interesting stretch coming up- packing, cleaning, uninstalling a fence, moving, 3 days after moving, the husband flies to Italy for a shoot (yikes), my brother's family is (temporarily or maybe not) moving across the country to Utah mid-April (we're lucky if we've seen them once a year over the years, so this will be awesome- cousins!), plus everyone will still be in school not so near our house anymore, and then there's all the reassembly and unpacking that seems to take months to complete... I'm exhausted already. But feeling very peaceful and blessed at the same time. This new house was pretty much dropped into our laps, and it's such a major hurdle and stress to have behind me!

That is part of why I have been MIA for months. Sickness and family in town and Christmas in December, catch up and house hunting from January til now, ugly sickness in February (4 weeks of bronchitis, sinus infection and ear infection, and that was just me) for everybody, and now preparing to move. Hopefully things will start to return to normal in the not too distant future. Did you see how I made it sound like I know what 'normal' is, there?  :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dastardly Dreams

Daydreams are good. I have control over those. They can be useful in sorting things out in your head, or escaping,  or even discovering goals.

Nighttime dreams, however are something I could do without. For most of my life, my dreams have been bad. And detailed. I used to have dreams all the time that featured me being kidnapped, chased, followed or in some other imminent danger. There was one where I ended up stabbed in the leg, that was so real, I woke up with a start, my heart racing, and frantically moved my nightgown to check my leg. I was certain I would find a wound or scar there. Happily, I don't dream, or at least remember dreaming, every night.

Nowadays, it's less me in danger, but often my kids, which is far worse. Waking up and taking a moment before you realize that your child is not in fact missing, is for that moment, terrifying. Not all of my dreams are scary anymore, though the bulk of them still are. I also have nights where I dream something so fabulous, happy, joyful, that waking up to reality is the hard part. I've had dreams featuring Noah that have left me in tears in the morning, where I have had glimpses of what I believe is his true, unhindered self. It's magnificent. It also brings some sadness and longing for that day when I can ask him how he feels and he will be able to answer.

I had a dream last night that was short, incomplete, even boring, that in all truth I barely remember. But there was so much joy and love and laughter in it, I would like to have stayed there much longer. I was near bursting with how happy and peaceful I felt. That feeling was quickly gone and replaced by fatigue and stress upon waking. I can never decide if those dreams are some sort of cruel joke, or if they're little seeds of sanity being planted in my brain to get me through the hard bits of life. I never want to read too much into the odd positive dream that I have since they are the exception and not the rule, and I certainly don't want to have to give equal weight to the awful ones, as far as meaning or significance. I know there are those who would analyze and assign meaning to every little detail. I honestly don't see how any of that is any more than a guess.

More useful to me than analysis would be some sort of formula for good dreams only. Or better yet, none at all. My greatest dream these days is to sleep, uninterrupted. I guess this little boy of mine is helping in one sense, by almost never allowing me to reach dream-level-deepness of sleep. Not so much helping on the 'uninterrupted' part.

Do you dream? Do you have recurring themes? Are your dreams more enjoyable than drain?

Monday, November 26, 2012

DMV: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

THE GOOD:  Did you know that you can make an appointment for renewing your driver's license? I was dreading the process, as in the past it has been a massive time drain. But while looking online for the address of the closest DMV, I happened to see that I could fill out my paperwork and set an appointment to go in. So that's what I did. With my printed forms and all the other required papers, in I went, 7 minutes before my scheduled appointment time. A rather burly and scary and large Polynesian cop greeted me- well not greeted, exactly. Bellowed. Yes, he bellowed at me, "What are you here to do?" I told him, was directed to a desk, handed them my things, had a picture taken, and was sent over to the big waiting area where there were already around 10 other people. "So much for an appointment making this faster." I thought. The next cheery DMV worker became available, and what do you know? They called my number. I received several glares from what I assume were the non-appointment-setting group in the waiting room. It was awesome.

They got all flustered at the site of my Canadian birth certificate and weren't sure it was valid. Ummm... people are often born outside of the U.S, folks, and then sometimes, they end up living in the U.S. After checking with a supervisor, and running a check on my Resident Alien card to make sure I was, in fact, born in Canada, and had arrived here legally, and had not done anything illegal or untoward in between, I was cleared to receive my (temporary) license. Phew.

Done. In under 10 minutes. I have to have set some kind of record, especially amongst non-Americans.

THE BAD:  It's anti-climactic when you're all geared up for some government line and waiting room, and then it goes smoothly and quickly. You're out in the parking lot halfway expecting to be pursued and arrested because surely if you were done that fast, you must have done something wrong. I do have a few tragic/comical stories involving other government forms/certificates/photos, but I'll share those some other time. So, at least for the next 5 years, I don't have any little party anecdotes when things turn to one of those "Oh my gosh, the DMV is the worst!" themed conversations. < racks brain for other party material >

How To Ensure You Have The Worst License Picture Ever and Look 40 lbs Over Your Actual Weight and Slightly Stoned

1. Be certain that for at least the 3 nights preceding your renewal, you do not get more than 3 hours of sleep per night. 
2. Make sure your last driver's license picture was decent or even good, because that will jinx you for the next one.
3. Ask for the girl that will ask you a question right before your photo, to which you will be responding while she snaps your picture. You'll know her when you see her. If you know what pure evil looks like.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Well Hello There, Cookie

Last night I went out with a friend. Out. Me. Without children or a grocery list. My friend Ramona also has a large family and one little boy with autism who attends the same school as Noah. Common ground always makes for good conversation. Which there was.

I wasn't hungry when I left, but I was tired, overwhelmed and stressed out. It's been that kind of a couple of months. At any rate we wound up at Menchie's. I glanced around as we entered, and I found myself thinking, "I wonder if they frown upon people sticking their heads under the frozen yogurt faucets and just fillin' 'er up?" I didn't ask, and I didn't attempt it since there, you pay by how much your food weighs. I didn't feel like standing on their countertop scale to weigh myself before and after filling my head with cake batter frozen yogurt. So around the line we toddled with our cups, like good little customers, perusing the legends informing us of gluten/sugar/dairy content. I ended up getting only a little bit, with some cookie dough thrown in for good measure, since I have no use for frozen desserts of any kind without some sort of dough, of some sort of baked good, mixed into it.

As a side note, I never understand how some places decide what they're going to sell. A frozen yogurt place sells just that, with numerous mix-ins- perfectly sensible. But then, wait! Yes! We must also sell lip balm! Um, what? No Post-It pads? No scented markers? No emery boards? Fro-yo and flavoured lip balm. It struck me as being totally bizarre, so naturally I bought one. Pink lemonade. It's quite yum.

Later as I was attempting to fall asleep, knowing it was pointless since the little toad would undoubtedly be making the first of his many nighttime appearances at any moment, I got thinking about my earlier urge to dunk my head under a spicket of free flowing frozen yogurt, and realized that I'm pretty sure there is something wrong with me. Well, lots of things, actually, but when it comes to food, the relationship is at best, dysfunctional. My inclination is to eat when I'm stressed, tired, mad, worried, sad- whether or not I'm hungry. Generally not celery sticks that I reach for, either. When I feel over all fine, I am the healthiest of the healthy. Green drinks, amazing vegetarian meals, as much organic as we can manage... but it's junk I want when things are a bit more gloomy or rough. I think, in part, it's because junk food has a certain reliability. Even a batch of cookies that doesn't turn out perfectly still tastes quite good. Don't get me wrong, I will sit and eat perfectly ripe strawberries and pomegranates all day long, but fruits and vegetables tend to be a bit more temperamental in their ability to be exactly what you want them to be upon taking that first bite. I can't count on an apple being crisp, juicy, and not at all mealy every time I grab one. There's the bit about chocolate, serotonin, all that too, I suppose.

It's time for some other coping mechanism. No idea what that might be. As I sit here with my perfectly lip-balmed lips with the smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls wafting through my kitchen. I'm hopeless.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Words, Glorious Words

"I'm ruthless! I have no ruths!" - Doofenshmirtz

It suddenly dawned on me that I have no idea about the root or origin of the word ruthless. It always bothers me when I encounter a word I can't define or explain. I can define this one, but I cannot explain it. So in all of my weird obsessiveness, I went about looking up 'ruthless' to see where it had originated. I found this.

It is crazy when you start delving into language, and discover just how much of it we have lost over time. There are so many times I'm stuck for a word to describe something, when none of the words I know really fit. Then I read something like that post, and I just want to make people start speaking and writing properly, and completely. I want all the words back.

I know I'm probably very much on my own here, both with my adoration of words and language, and with my sadness at losing more and more of our story along with the language. I can't even bring myself to use 'U' for 'you' in a text or any other of those abbreviations and misspellings. I like words too much. Complete words. Correctly spelled and properly used words. Where are we without them, after all?

If you have managed to read this little musing of mine without nodding off, you are quite simply, ruthful. You really are.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mmm, Autumn

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." ~George Eliot

Now that it actually feels like fall, I am so happy. I drove (alone?!) to pick up kids from school today, with "Not Over You" by Gavin DeGraw blasting through my speakers (love me some Gavin) and thick, billowy, many hues of grey clouds overhead. I was the perfect temperature, singing loudly and dreaming of Thai food while still nursing my green drink from this morning. Thing was huge, man.

September was ridiculous. Two ER visits for Noah, the second one resulting in his being admitted (though his neurologist said the first one should have as well), and just days and days that were completely lost to seizures. And it was too hot for September which always makes me a bit cranky. I was incredibly glad to see the month end.

I have no idea how I am functioning and speaking and standing upright. Grey, while perfection during the day, is a nightmare at night. Sixteen months and the child still cannot sleep through the night. I have not experienced a single night with REM sleep since before he was born. I shudder to think of the rate at which things are breaking down inside of me as I push through each day on essentially just nighttime naps.

But odd as it sounds, I relish autumn. I feel rejuvenated, content and thrive on overcast crisp days with some wind and rain mixed in. This is no replacement for sleep, mind you, but it's wonderful anyway. The kids start getting giddy this time of year too, as Halloween and its accompanying sugar rush are just around the corner, followed by American Thanksgiving, two of our birthdays, and then Christmas. Though they have yet to realize that this year for Christmas, they will be getting a stack of hospital bills and will be regaled with Tales of the ER, gathered around our non-functioning gas fireplace. It's the stuff Christmas dreams are made of.

For now, I wish everybody a happy apple and pear eating, leaf crunching, scarf wearing, cinnamon-laced baking, rosy-cheeked, blanket-wrapped, autumn.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Noah: Better But Not Back

Wednesday night was a beast of a night. I have gotten many texts and messages since, and I am so grateful for each and every one. I'm sorry for not getting back to everybody.

For anyone who has not heard, Noah started having some seizures, and then they would not stop. Once we hit about 15 minutes of them coming in quick succession with a few dips in between, without him fully regaining consciousness, we decided that was it and they were not going to stop. Off to the ER. By the time they were finally stopped at the hospital, they had been going about 35+ minutes straight. He is doing better now, slowly moving back to normal-ish.

That's the basic summary.

That boy has an exceptional team of guardian angels. It was around 9:30 pm that we heard a thud against his door. He had been asleep for close to 3 hours by then, which is pretty typical, so hearing him at that hour is not at all normal. He kicks or bangs on his door in the morning to let us know he's up, but he doesn't do it at night. One lone thump is unheard of. Jeremy ran down to check on him and sure enough, he was having a seizure. I ran down too. We have some things we do that normally slow down or stop the seizure, but nothing worked. We prayed. These seizures were odd, too, he was having movements we had never seen before, and we have seen pretty much everything as he has had every type of seizure there is. It was really unsettling seeing something brand new. The other strange thing was, he was silent. His seizures, at least the longer or stronger ones, are always accompanied by some sound. He grinds his teeth sometimes, or makes some sort of choking gagging type sounds. We have a baby monitor in his room and you can hear him if he breathes deeply on that thing, so there's not much we miss. But here he was having violent, world rocking seizures, and he was silent. I don't know how or why he got over to that door, but had he not hit it, we never would have known the horrid experience he was having.

It was hurried when Jeremy and Noah pulled out of the driveway. And though I had kissed Noah and put his favourite blanket on him, and told him how much I loved him, I still felt sick as they drove away. The other kids were all in bed, and I felt helpless. I sat on my kitchen floor and cried. Then I called my mom. I asked for prayers on Facebook. And there was that fear in the back of my mind, what if that was the last time I see him, like that? Permanent damage to his brain could completely alter him, or his little body might just give out...

He had a blood draw that he was too out of it to even flinch at, and then they had him hooked up to this and that, and had to do a catheter on him, so by the time they got home at around 1 am, he was totally wiped out, but also totally ticked off. Jeremy slept right beside him all night, just in case, but he slept until 11 am without incident.

The main reason nobody heard from me yesterday is that I was following this boy around almost all day. He wanted to be up and about a bit, but his body was not ready for it. He was speaking in whispers, only a syllable or two at a time, and it took effort to get it out. He was like the worst falling down drunk whenever he moved around. He stumbled and ran into the wall at least three times, fell down a couple of times, and I caught him twice on the stairs when he lost his balance there. He was white as a sheet, with massive circles under his sunken-looking eyes. We had to near force-feed him his usual green drinks to try to get some of his strength back, but he wasn't happy about it. By 5 pm he was heading downstairs, saying "Bed? Bed?", and he wasn't kidding. He went right to sleep.

This morning he had another, albeit smaller, seizure. He was talking a bit more, a bit steadier on his feet, still not really eating much. Then he had over an hour of 2-5 second seizures this evening. ((the mum pulls her hair out)) I'm guessing there will be a change in medication next week. He's sound asleep now.

A few have asked how we parents are doing. I can only speak for myself, but I am a weird combination of exhausted, wired, stressed, relieved, overwhelmed, frustrated, grateful... nothing prepares you to see your child like that. It is not something you just 'get used to'. I love that little boy so much, every part of me cries out for his relief, and wishes I could take it all on for him. The messages and words from so many family and friends have been what has held me up these last 2 days (did I mention I had had a rather horrid 24 hour bug just the night before all of this? And that we'll pay for the ER out of pocket? And that our dryer decided to die yesterday?). The love flowing in for my boy has been nearly palpable. For the rest of us too. I am so thankful. I know Noah feels it. And right now, that's everything.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My Kooky Little Sage

At the moment I blog periodically just so that people don't start to wonder if I have ceased to exist. It's a shame because I enjoy blogging, I enjoy writing, but I don't seem to be able to stay on top of much of anything these days. We're coming up on 15 months of not sleeping through a single night. It has depleted me more than I ever could have imagined.

I don't like to come on here and complain. I also really don't like being in my thirties and feeling like I'm in my eighties. So I'm afraid you'll have to just deal with a bit of complaining. Waah. There.

Yesterday I picked Noah up from school and he was grinning and bounding around, and once in the car, singing along (in his own special way- it has to be experienced, not explained) with the Lazy Town cd that was playing. He had let me give him a quick squeeze and kiss on the head before going in that morning, as well, so I found myself smiling through the rest of the carpool routine and drive home. This has not been the norm for Noah for some time. For months he has not been quite himself, a bit slower than normal, not eating well, fewer of those days where he is just full of beans and all wound up. His neurologist said he could be having lots of seizure activity that we can't see on the outside, on top of the too-frequent bits we are seeing. Or, she said, or, it could 'just' be general deterioration of his brain due to all the seizure nonsense since they began four and a half years ago.

Oh. Is that all?

We need to have another EEG done to compare to the one he had right after the seizures started to see if, in fact, there is permanent damage being done to his brain. If so, there is not too much to be done, so it's not an emergency type of thing. But it would be helpful to know so that we have a clearer picture of what is happening, or not. I've said it before, but seizures really and truly bite. It's an area doctors really don't know anything about, it's everybody's best guess as to what's going on, which means treatment is throwing darts and hoping one sticks. It's medication roulette, if you will. It's a hoot.

Noah regularly teaches me and reminds me of what is important. A day of feeling pretty good is a big deal, not to be taken for granted. You never know how much time you've got with anyone you love, so even the junky days are a blessing. Noah can go through stretches of absolute misery, pain, and sadness, but the moment he feels pretty good, he is up, smiling, swinging outside, gleefully chucking water at some electronic device, loving life. He doesn't dwell on or relive or complain about those bad days. He is amazing that way.

I'm trying to, in my own way, follow Noah's example, which is why I am upright and tidying up after dinner rather than laying on my soggy lawn with my head through the fence letting loose a scream of utter ballistic exhaustion. Meanwhile, we will get Noah checked out, and hope the news is that he will be as present and communicative as he manages to be right now, for a good long while.

I adore that boy. I am so blessed to be his mom.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Duncan. Washing Off His Issues.

Oh, my Duncan. He was furiously working at something the other day that involved a lot of scotch tape, and so naturally I asked what he was doing. He glanced up at me and very matter of fact said, "Making dynamite."

Then Marley asked him to get her some water, and perturbed, he spewed, "I'm not your manager."

Then he had a stinging paper cut, and since he had just eaten a huge orange, I surmised, "You probably got orange juice on it, so go wash it off." to which he said, "Ooooh, I have issues. How do I wash it off?"

The child is part typical 6 year old, part mad scientist, part comedian, and part teenager. I never know which I'm going to get, and he can just as easily make me laugh until I cry as make me want to drop kick him across the back yard.

He has been particularly hilarious this summer, but we're also having a lot of struggles with attitude and listening. A lot of "Whatever!" and "You're so annoying!" Marley adores him, but even she has noticed that he's a bit of a beast at times these days. This morning he had yelled at her and shoved her after she did something he apparently didn't like, and she was crying. I asked her to tell me what had happened, and she tried to explain, and I said something to the effect of "Oh those boys, I'm about ready to knock their heads together!" (we had had a fair bit of misbehaviour this morning), to which Marley quickly replied, "No! Not Gabiel! Gabiel didn't hit me, he jutht wuv me! Don't kick Gabiel'th butt!" Pause. "Jutht Duncan."

I have said for some time that I'm most worried about Duncan as a teen, because he is so headstrong, sneaky, and independent, but is also the life of the party. Throw in a driver's license, hormones and a teenage brain, and it's enough to make me want to sit and rock in a closet somewhere until he's 25 and hopefully not in prison. Or a band.

I was prepared for unique personalities in my children, but I never fully considered what that would mean in terms of how differently each of them would need to be parented, taught, and disciplined. Gabriel pretty much does what he's told, and if not, he accepts correction and realizes when he has messed up. Duncan doesn't care. He'll blow up, talk back or simply keep right on doing whatever he wants. I have to wait until he has normal blood pressure and a good night's sleep before I can talk things through with him. And then sometime later he'll say something hysterical, and I remember why we keep him.

I love that each of my kids shows up with parts that are pure greatness, and parts that I have absolutely no idea how to deal with. Multiplied by 5, I'm certain I will never be bored. With Duncan I hope I can steer him and help him use his powers for good, but not squash one tiny particle of his humour, animation and spirit. As my husband said last year, "I think that's why I find him so exasperating sometimes. Because he's 5 and he's so much cooler than I am." True story, folks, true story.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Still Alive

Once again, it has been over a month since I've written. With everyone home for summer, my baby still not sleeping through the night, and loads of other fun things going on (seizures! colds! car repairs!), I have not had the ability to think complete sentences, let alone write any.

And yet in about 3 weeks' time, it's not going to get any less busy. School will be back in (I still do not understand this whole starting in August thing. You wait until after labour day, people.) and changes are afoot. Duncan will be in school all day. Noah's in his new school building, about 10-15 minutes further away than it had been, but it's fabulous. But his favourite teacher is leaving. There's teacher chaos at the other boys' school (11 of them left) so I'm preparing to have to fight for my kids' best interests or even pull them out and home school this year if things don't go well. My oldest baby will be 12 before the year ends, and with that I realize we'll be 2/3 of the way to him being basically grown and off doing his own thing. Our contract in this house is up at the beginning of April so I will be gradually packing and then madly house hunting in the coming months. I greatly detest both of those activities.

Do you ever get in long stretches where you are crazy busy, but know you're not really doing anything well? That has been me all summer. Constantly playing catch up, always falling just short of the goals for the day/week/month/year. Thinking about friends and family I'd like to see or spend time with, but not having 5 minutes for a conversation with anyone. Having ideas for things I'd like to do or write, but sleeplessness turns them to mush before I've had a chance to do anything with them.

Gabriel did learn to swim (finally!) this summer. Graham is walking. I got a haircut. Once, for nearly a week, I could see all my counter tops in the kitchen. I don't think that qualifies as a raving success, but it's something. Right?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Graham Jack

This, as the kids say, is Grey's last day of being zero. This time last year I was having a meltdown because I had seen my midwife in the morning, and she had checked things out, and nothing was happening. And baby was turned nearly posterior. My parents were on their way to Utah, driving. I was convinced he was never going to be born, and if he was, it was going to be a three day long labour, that would end in one or both of us barely surviving. I cried to my Mum. I complained to my very patient friend JaNae. All I wanted to do was sit in a chair and be mad or sad or whatever I wanted.

That night I went to the store to grab a few groceries and things in preparation for what I was certain would be my parents' entirely newbornless visit. I got out of my car and saw that the moon was very bright. "Stupid full moon.", I muttered to myself, as I remembered my midwife had told me a few times that they often see a rise in numbers of birthing mamas when the moon is big. I shopped grumpy. I went home grumpy. We watched a little tv, since Jeremy I'm sure knew by that point that a pep talk of any kind would only result in bad things for him.

I had had general pain for a few days, but mostly the kind that felt like the baby was sitting on something he shouldn't have been. I had more of that going on and tried to move around to get him to move. It got worse around midnight. It was sharp, localized, and nothing like contractions at all. I went to bed around 12:30, and spent hours trying to sleep, but mostly just shifting trying to find a spot where the pain would stop. It was like severe menstrual cramps, as well as a little person inside stabbing me with a tiny knife. On about my 3rd trip to bathroom, I sat up (which would have been easier with some kind of pulley system in place), stood up, and sploosh. Wha?

"That's so weird." I thought to myself, "Especially since I'm not having contractions and not in labour." And then, "Dude, WHAT is this baby sitting on? Because it freaking HURTS."

So I'm in the bathroom, and suddenly I'm grabbing the counter, and feeling, just, weird. And then, pain. Lots of pain. My cell was charging on the counter, so I grabbed it and called my midwife. It was about 4:10 am. The conversation went something like,

"Hi Suzanne, it's Wendy. I don't know what's going on but I'm having a lot of pain. I think my water might have broken."

"Sooo, do you think you're in labour?"

"No, I really don't. I know what contractions feel like, and this is not that. I don't know what this is, but I'm having a lot of pain... wait..." (off the phone) "Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow..." (back on) "This just doesn't feel like labour."

"Well I think I'll just come over and check you and see what's going on."

"Okay." between clenched teeth.

At this point I thought, this baby might be coming somehow even though I'm not in labour, and I should wake Jeremy. I woke him by saying, something is going on, I'm in pain, Suzanne's coming, could you please start filling the (birth) pool? He sprung out of bed and ran around speaking his own special delirious dialect that appears when he's not really very awake. For some reason I sat back down on the toilet. No idea why. It seemed reasonable at the time. He starts asking me how to set up the pool. Really? REALLY?

Then I suddenly realized, I wasn't just breathing or moaning through the pain anymore. I heard a sound that I recognized all too well. This slightly strained grunty groany noise. "Wow, that sounded an awful lot like the sounds I make when I'm pushing when I'm in labour." I thought.



I called my midwife back, and hollered something like "This baby is coming, please hurry!!" She was already almost on our street. In between yelling that I couldn't have a baby on the toilet, and that I couldn't move and why aren't you filling the pool, I told Jeremy to go unlock the front door for Suzanne so that she could just come right in.

She hurried in, and checked me. She says, "Oh, yeah." Jeremy says, "What, is she in transition?" Suzanne says, "No. The baby is right there." Jeremy: "WHAT???"

Meanwhile I'm completely freaking out because I have no water. Not to drink, but to sit in. The pool wasn't even half inflated. You have to understand, having had my previous two births in the water, I was convinced I COULD NOT do it outside of the water ever again because it had been so much better in. Jeremy asked if he should fill the tub, I said yes, and then somehow, moments later, they were helping me in, and I was in just-barely-deep-enough-to-give-birth-in-it water. Thank goodness for a freakishly powerful faucet. Suzanne wanted me to face her, I couldn't sit that way. I moved to where I felt better which unfortunately resulted in her having to impale herself on the faucet in order to reach me. I still feel bad about that.

I was pushing. Mightily. Then I remembered he was nearly posterior on last inspection, and got scared. Marley had been posterior, though we didn't know it in advance, and I pushed for a good long while and it was so very painful and difficult. I braced myself for a repeat. Suzanne was checking the baby, and said, "There's the head." I thought to myself, "Well yeah, I would hope 'there's the head' since I feel like someone's holding a blow torch to my nether regions." But what she meant was, the head was out. Which I figured out a moment later when I pushed again and was suddenly holding a tiny, warm little blinking baby boy. I dissolved into tears. I could not believe it. He had turned the right way. He had come early in the morning of the day my parents were set to arrive. It was 4:58 am, and we had a baby. All the thoughts and feelings in those moments cannot be put into mere words.

It was my quickest, craziest labour. It was completely different than my other labours. They were all different from each other, of course, but with the first four, my contractions felt alike, they all started high, and radiated downward, I could feel them throughout my torso. With Graham, it was this weird, sharp pain, all from the waist down, and felt like nothing I recognized as labour. Even weeks later, Suzanne was still having a good laugh about my first phone call to her. "It's not labour. ow, ow, oW, OW, OW!"

This little boy has been a joy and a blessing. He is a lousy sleeper, yes, but he is the most snuggly, affectionate, smiley, content, easy going baby. The kids routinely say things to him like "Good night cutest baby in the world who I will love forever." and "You are SO delicious, Grey." He is just so lovable. And I'm so glad he's here. And I cannot believe it is his last day of being zero. (Happy Birthday tomorrow, bubba.) :)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Somebody Bring Me My Crown.

I was kissing Marley goodnight as she laid in her bed, on her fuzzy pink pillow, wearing one of her many princess dresses over her pajamas, piled up with soft pink and white blankets, and regaling me with a tale of the pirates that would surely be coming to get her because pirates always get princesses and tie them up, and then the princesses yell "Help! Help!", while the pirates just say "Aye, aye, Captain!", and the Captains always say "Arrrrrr..." and I figured I should be in the story. So I said, "Well it sounds like I'm going to have to kick some pirates' butts." She said, "Yeah. You do." But then she thought about it and said, "But you're a queen."

Huh, I thought, I don't FEEL like a queen. And with a day's worth of cleaning and diaper changing on me, I certainly don't look like one. Queens don't go nearly a year without sleeping even a solid 6 hour stretch. Queens don't make lame last minute dinners like grilled PB & banana sandwiches- they don't even have to make dinner. Queens don't have to closely calculate every cent before heading out the door to buy a few groceries. Oh and by the way, if I'm a queen, why does no one listen to me? Aren't I supposed to have loyal subjects?

In the split second that all those thoughts were running through my head, Marley covered her mouth and giggled, and said again, "You're a queen, Mama."


I'm a queen.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Out of the Mouths of Babes

It has been nearly a month since I last posted anything here. Poor, neglected blog. It has been a weird month. Easter was fine, but mostly I just kept finding myself missing my parents and siblings and their families, even more than normal. This has been a month of hard things for several of my friends. It seems that everywhere I turn this month, there is someone having serious struggles of one kind or another. So I in turn feel a bit odd posting some random thought or funny story here, knowing all of that is going on. I don't know if there's official blog etiquette for matters like that.

Last night Marley, after Duncan had gotten mad at his Dad and said "You can go sleep in a big pile of poop!", very sweetly put her hand on her Daddy and said "I will thleep in the big pile of poop with you."

Doesn't it boil down to that sentiment? I hope I can offer that to my struggling friends, and that when I need it, somebody will extend such an offer to me.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Quit Yer Whining

This title is lovingly addressed to myself. Laundry. Bleh. Making dinner. Yeesh. Driving kids everywhere all day every day. Arg. Kids using me as a human kleenex. Come on.

As a mother of 5 kids, ages 11 down to 9 months, one of whom has some extra special needs, my job can be stressful, messy, tiring, relentless and even a tad monotonous at times. But it occurred to me the other night as I was rushing around the kitchen making dinner (with Noah following me whacking me with a water bottle and screaming at me, Duncan asking me a million questions, Marley sneaking into the pantry for yet another snack that would render her appetiteless by supper time) and complaining about it like mad in my head, that I really should not be complaining.

I was doing a 'wing it' dinner with odds and ends I had at the end of my last grocery shopping cycle. A veggie stir fry with glass noodles. I stood at my counter looking at the food for a moment. Many colours of bell pepper and other veggies, onions, spices, soy sauce, oil, noodles... I didn't grow any of it. I did not harvest the mung beans and then fashion them into thin noodles that somehow turn clear when they cook. I did not ferment to perfection the soy beans to make the seasoning sauce. I could not even tell you where turmeric comes from. I have never grown a single olive tree, and therefore have not cold-pressed olives in my kitchen to make my own olive oil. I just had to cut some stuff up, heat some oil, boil some water, and pretty much, there's dinner.

Same goes for my kids lunches that were made later that night. No wheat harvesting in my back yard. Followed by grinding said wheat into flour. Followed by, how the heck do I make my own yeast? And try as I may, I don't think I could ever make a box that would hold juice, or my own straws. It all just had to be put together. In containers I didn't make. In a lunch bag that I didn't have to sew.

I do a ton of laundry. A TON. Put clothes in. Add soap. Turn on. Leave. Come back. Put clothes in other magical machine, turn on. Leave. Come back. Unload. Fold. No scrubbing. No wash board. No hand rinsing each item of clothing. No hanging clothes outside, and only when the weather permits. If my child vomits all over their bed, for example, sometime in the dead of winter, I don't have to strip the bed and stick it outside to freeze into a big vomit-blanket ice-ball so that we don't have to smell it for the rest of the night. Instead it's all clean and back on the bed by mid morning the next day.

I do not have to take my horse to the local market, on a 30-minutes-each-way trip. Though if I had a slew of Icelandics, I must admit I would be finding excuses to saddle all of them up and take the whole family pretty much anywhere. That's another story. But in the cold or heat I sit in my optimal temperature car, listening to music, or sitting in blissful silence as I am running my errands. And I'd like to see how I'd handle carting groceries plus, say, a mattress home on the back of a horse.

I'm still busy and crazed. Yes. But when I start thinking about all the things I don't have to do in any given day, it kind of blows my mind. And makes me feel grateful. And in awe of my ancestors. And so lame for whining.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Very Blind Dates

Many of my friends are single and/or a good deal younger than me, so even though I've been married for 15 years, the topic of dating still comes up much more frequently than I would expect at this stage of my life. I've read a few blog posts lately about bad dates, and it got me thinking about my own. There were several less than stellar dates, but if I had to pick just one as the worst of them all, I'd pick the one where I was a blind date to a prom. The only reason I agreed to it is because my older brother Craig was in on it, so I thought, how bad could it be? He was always a good big brother.

I was 17, nearly at the end of my high school career. My big brother Craig was away at BYU. One of his female college friends lived not too far south of us, we in Ontario Canada, and she and her family in upstate New York. Between the two of them, they had the brilliant idea that I should be set up with this girl's younger brother, as he did not yet have a date for his prom. That should have been my first sign. Out of an entire high school and surrounding city, there is not one girl who you could convince to accompany you to your prom? Anyway, I agreed, as my high school was a super strict private school that did not do proms. They did have a Cadet Ball every year (doesn't that sound like a hoot?) but alas, I never went.

The plan was, I would be driven down to this boy's house, and abandoned there until the next morning. Then my Mom would come pick me up. We'll call the boy "Guy". I had never met him until I showed up at his house. We met, it was awkward, and my parents left me there. We went inside, and I shut myself in the bathroom to get ready for the evening. Once ready, he pinned a corsage on me, and... no he attempted to pin it on, probably 4-5 times, and then his mom just did it, probably fearing the lawsuit or at least ER visit that would ensue if her son continued on.

Off we went to dinner. It was a nice restaurant, but one better suited, I think, to established couples interested in romance more than high school kids who just met 2 hours ago. Anyway, the food is normally what I remember most after any event anyhow, so I attacked reading the menu with great enthusiasm. We had had some small talk on the way over, and it was already painfully clear to me that this was at best, a mismatch. He asked me, probably 5 times what I thought I was going to order. Heaven help him if he tries to order for me, I thought. The waitress's arrival was so welcome when she came to ask what we wanted. It went a little like this:
Her: What will you have?
Me: Chicken cordon-bleu.
H: Would you like a baked potato or mashed potatoes?
M: Baked, please.
H: Steamed vegetables or salad?
M: Salad.
H: What kind of dressing?
M: What are the choices?
H: Italian, Ranch, Raspberry Vinaigrette, Blue cheese, Lime, or Poppyseed.
Me: Raspberry Vinaigrette.

She then moved on to Guy.

H: And what about you?
G: I'll have the Chicken cordon-bleu.
H: And, a baked potato or mashed?
G: Baked.
H: Steamed vegetables or salad?
G: Salad.
H: What kind of dressing would you like with that?
G: Can you tell me the choices again?
H: Italian, Ranch, Raspberry Vinaigrette, Blue cheese, Lime or Poppyseed.
G: Raspberry Vinaigrette.

Yes. That is the identical meal that I ordered (did I mention the menu was like 6 pages long?) and he made the poor waitress go through all the salad dressings again. I resisted a grimace and huge eye roll. We had some stilted, boring yet awkward conversation, during which I kept thinking, I'm here until tomorrow morning. TOMORROW MORNING. Mercifully, the food arrived. It was then that both Guy and I noticed he did not have a knife at his place setting. He tried to be all cool attempting to slice through his chicken with his fork. It very nearly took post mortem flight from his plate several times. I mentioned more than once that he should ask for a knife and he kept saying it was fine. The waitress finally returned to ask how everything was, and if we needed anything. He says, "No, thanks." My eyes may have bugged out just a little bit, and I looked at the waitress, then back at Guy. What is wrong with this boy, I wondered? And finally when it was clear he was just going to continue on, attacking his meal with only a fork, I looked at the waitress and with a thumb gesture toward him, blurted out in total exasperation, "He needs a KNIFE!"

He drank when I drank. Took a bite of food when I did. It was weird.

Then we were on to the prom. We had to drive through his town to get there. Between the restaurant and the edge of town, he said "Now when we get to town, don't blink, or you'll miss it.", easily TEN times. No exaggeration. I was like, ok, got it. Not blinking. Will not blink. Will avoid blinking at all costs.

I did not blink. I did not miss it.

We arrived at the high school. Parked the car. Walked into the lamely decorated smells-like-teen-spirit gym, met a few people I knew I'd never see again. Danced two slow dances, a couple of fast, and then we left. He just kept looking at me and not saying much. I kept hoping this was not going to turn into some future Dateline Unsolved Mystery type story.

His all too eager family greeted us and wanted us to watch a movie. I was scared that if I did, Guy would consider this an invitation to hold my hand or worse. I said something about being tired and went to get ready for bed. I fell asleep coming up with ways to exact revenge upon my brother.

In the morning, I took the longest I have ever taken to bathe and get ready for the day. Breakfast with the Guy's family. Many many questions were asked, and just as everyone was trying to get me to commit to future plans and outings, glory be, my ride arrived. Guy hugged me good bye, and held on just that little bit too long.

I later regaled my family with my weird little story, and to this day, any missing bit of cutlery at the table results in someone exclaiming "He needs a KNIFE!"

I am so glad I no longer date. I hope Guy is very happy somewhere with his food ordering twin, not blinking, and eating without adequate silverware.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Step Away From the Keyboard

So I thought I'd change things up a bit and do a political post, and share my views on the remaining nominees. And then I thought, no. No I won't.

Then I've been thinking a lot about music and how my tastes and preferences have changed over the years, and how some of them haven't at all. I still love me some Howard Jones. I still don't have any love for country music. Music makes me so happy. Or more specifically, my music, loud, while I'm alone in my car, singing like I know how, makes me happy. Lately in my cd player, you'd find either Sarah Bareilles, Kelly Clarkson, Adele, Coldplay, Colbie Caillat, or today most likely Jessie J (the clean album, don't call my Bishop). And then "Who's Laughing Now?" came on and I was singing along and no longer contemplating blog posts.

This week I've been so tired, baby has been absolutely horridly awake every night of late. And I have thought about drinking 3 or 4 Five Hour Energy's, in part to keep me standing upright, and in part to see what kind of blog post would come out of an over tired but hopped up on caffeine Wendy. That may still be forthcoming. But I couldn't get to the store today.

So here we are. It's 6:30 pm and I am dressed, but never got my hair done today. I need to exercise, but am only interested in exercise I could do while laying face down on the floor. I need to see my chiropractor. And my phone is busted. No more blogging while blotto. Sorry.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Re-finding Me

If I have ever offended you, I do apologize. There are very few instances where my intent has been to offend someone, but I'm sure I have done it more than those few times I meant to. I've gotten much better at keeping my mouth shut over the years, which isn't always a good thing, but is a necessary, if not slightly unfortunate part of growing up and maturing.

I used to pretty much say whatever was on my mind. If I thought it, I said it (though this did not apply to anything that was potentially embarrassing, incriminating or personal for me). There were times I know I made my parents or siblings cringe and have to resist covering my mouth and escorting me out of the room. But, as my Mum recounts, there were also times I spoke up and said what no one else would say, and was dead on in my assessment of the situation. Some adults would be appalled, but I didn't always get a talking to like people sometimes thought I should.

I started university in a place that was like another planet compared to where I grew up. People didn't always appreciate my blunt, forthright, no-nonsense way of talking. So I learned to clam up, and keep some of my opinions and thoughts to myself. At times, I felt like a cartoon, turning several colours, shaking, steam coming out of my ears- just trying to be polite and quiet. But with practice, I got better at it.

What was an accomplishment in my college days, I now see as a weakness, even a fault. I've realized recently, that I'm not as much myself. One of the reasons for that is that I am polite bordering on demure in some instances, and it feels like I'm playing some character who is altogether foreign to me. I'm all for manners, believe me, we're big on that over here. But sometimes, things need to be said. My opinions might actually be helpful, not offensive. Occasionally a few truthful, loving, blunt words are exactly what are needed. I have had 3 separate occasions now where someone has said something to me that on the surface seemed really rude or inappropriate, but in truth was the exact thing I needed to hear, and said in the only way I could hear it in that moment. That's a gift.

I don't plan on going all mean and cruel, but I am going to speak up more. I think, in hindsight, that truth telling, blunt side of me was actually a gift and talent that needed some fine tuning, not a personality flaw to be squashed out of existence. Again, I hope to not offend. Besides, generally if I mean to offend, there is little question that that is the case. But I would hope more often, since I am a grown up (apparently), that my speaking my mind and seeking the right and truthful thing will be good and helpful, to me and to others. Somewhere along the way, parts of me have gotten lost, and I'm starting backwards down a road in hopes of finding them again.

Be afraid, people. Be very afraid.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

That's A Wrap

My last pregnancy was rough. Fifteen weeks of mind bending nausea (I never threw up, but wished I would for just a moment of relief), a 2 month bout with walking pneumonia, a screwy hip that made it excruciatingly painful to walk or even stand for about the last 4-5 months, plus the usual aches, pains, worries (a little miscarriage scare, anyone?) and unbelievable fatigue. My body was telling me it was done. It felt like it was falling apart beneath me.

So that's it. No more pregnancies. Instead of celebrating never having to do that again, I'm sad. There is nothing more amazing I will ever do in my life, and I plan on doing some pretty great things. But growing a person, feeling them move, giving birth, seeing each little face for the first time... there is nothing that can ever top any of that for me. It seems many women are so relieved to be done, and then can't wait for all their kids to be in school, but I guess I'm just weird. I'm in no rush. There are so many phases and days and moments I would pause if I could. If I felt like I could physically manage it, I would have more- at least one, and maybe 2 or 3. But I know I can't.

I didn't expect to feel this way.

I am not ungrateful. I realize, I know the blessing it is that I got to have my five. Something many women long for but can't do for a multitude of reasons, I got to do. And it was incredible. So leaving this phase behind is hard. From pregnancy to newborns to my midwife to miracles that happened along the way, it's hard to imagine life without any of that. I can't even begin to list the things I have learned and become from this phase of my life.

But now, I will never not be a mother. That is the joyful note I choose to keep playing. It's my bit of heaven on earth. Yes, even on the days that are a wee bit, um, challenging. I sometimes find it hard to believe that I could really be this lucky. These kids? The best people I know. I tell them all the time, "I am the luckiest Mum because I got you. Nobody else got you."

But for the moment, I'm allowing myself to feel a little bit sad. End of an era, folks. End of an era.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Kickin' It With the Stay-At-Homies

I have rules. There are limits. These kids have regular bedtimes and mealtimes, are not allowed much sugary or processed food, and have limits on their screens. I realize I can't protect them from everything as a parent, but the things I can control, for their safety and well-being, I do. So much so that I was once called 'anal' by my mother-in-law, and I took it as the highest compliment. (That one came because I wouldn't allow my kids to ride around in her truck, through a small town, on snow covered roads without any car seats or boosters).

We have almost as many channels blocked on the tv as we have available. These kids have never seen MTV or VH1 or any such thing. They know the channels that are the ok kid channels, and they stick to them.

So you'll excuse my mouth dropping open, quickly followed by near-painful laughter upon hearing the following:

Grey was laying on my bed, fussing, while I was in the bathroom attempting to get ready for the day. Duncan comes running in and announces,

"I'll take care of him, Mum!"

Duncan makes faces, does voices and hands over toy after toy.

Graham still fusses.

"Grey, it's ok!"

Grey fusses louder.

"Dude! I'm RIGHT HERE."

Grey starts to cry.

"Grey! I'm HERE for you, YO?!"

Graham wails.

Defeated: "Duuude."

My 5-year-old. He both entertains and terrifies me. Word.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Me: Also Available In Happy.

Spent, drained, worried, concerned, relieved, grateful, sad, stressed, exhausted, sorry, sympathetic, overwhelmed, wound up, scattered, confused, frustrated... these are some of the options available currently.

The Happy Wendy appears to be out of stock or on back order. Perhaps some refurbishing going on. If you don't like this version, you can always try back in a few days or so.

It has been a rough week. There is no way to avoid the way a week like this sort of tears me to shreds while I'm busy dealing with crises, and then vanishes, leaving me with a giant mess of built up thoughts and emotions to sort through. Today I've begun sorting.

It's not fun.

35 seizures in just over 7 hours. My boy. My poor, sweet, innocent, doesn't-he-already-have-enough-to-deal-with boy. I steal extra kisses, say extra I love you's, because for a while there, there's no way to know if it might be my last chance. I place my hand on his back or just under his nose to make sure he is still breathing. I do it a ridiculous number of times.

How much can one little body take? I absolutely hope to never discover the answer to that question.

He's coming around. Talking a bit. Today he was able to pick up and hold a cup again, and get it to his mouth. He could stand and walk without crumpling to the floor. And with each little bit that he is restored, so am I. My heart always seems to be the last thing.

Soon my boy will be back, with his mischievous laugh and Cheshire cat grin. And I will be laughing with him, though he almost never lets me in on the joke.

For now? Still sorting. I know that Happy has got to be around here somewhere...

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hair Experiments #2 & #3: A Yikes and A Nice.

This is the next Pinterest hair experiment. It sounded fascinating to me that I could get beachy waves from a flat iron...

My hair after twisting and ironing on the left, partially pulled through on the right, and then a shot of how it ended up.

It's not too beachy. Wavy, yes. A little crazy and frizzy, yes. With the exception of #2 on the right, the pictures don't truly show how wild and unkempt and uneven it all was. I don't think your styled hair should make you laugh, and then post picture taking, be thrown into a ponytail for the rest of the day. I'm calling this one a FAIL. But then it could just be my hair.

Then there's the curling wand. It looked fairly promising to me, like I might not totally mess it up with this.

I wrapped sections of hair around at its highest heat, and it turned out pretty well. The back, I cannot do to save my life, but so far this is the easiest way to get some decent curls/waves. The curling wand: for styling idiots.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Temporary Lunatic

I lost it. I don't like to yell or scream at my kids, but I did this morning. In fact, I am still in tears about it as I write. It's a good thing I'm a lousy typist, because two of my fingers are throbbing with so much pain, I wouldn't be using them now even if I could type properly. I got quite the beat down from Noah this morning. I was screamed at, kicked, hit, grabbed, scratched to bleeding, and this kid is no lightweight. What was my offense, you might ask? I was trying to get the boy dressed.

I don't say too much about what day to day life can really be like with a kid with autism and a seizure disorder. Partly, that's because I figure, who wants to hear it, and partly, there's no real point to it since very few understand, and no one can do a thing about it. There have always been challenges, but many of those grow as he does. He is getting big. I am not a big Mum. He is still in diapers at 8. Sometimes he does NOT want to be changed. It has to be done.

I have what I think is an extreme fight or flight response. Mostly I don't choose flight. I've been that way my whole life. If I felt under attack, or that someone I love was under attack, I would instantly turn to fight. Sometimes verbally, occasionally physically, but even when I was clearly going to be way outmatched, I would act first, think later. Thankfully a couple of times I had a good friend talk sense in to me, or in one case, a very wise male friend who picked me up and carried me out of a room during college, when some foot-taller-than-me guy was lying about my sister. My response is good in the appropriate situations, but not so much in others.

It is instant, if you are ever physically attacked or hurt by someone you just want to defend yourself and fight back. It's instinctive. But when it is your child, who is nearly as big as you are, that is kicking you in the ribs, or head butting you in the head or face, taking large chunks of skin off of your hand, you can't react that way. I do have to block him, and defend myself like that, sometimes I have to sit on his legs or something when he is just wild, but all that adrenaline and stress has to go somewhere, so I yell and/or cry. It's not pretty. It's not helpful. It feels like the world is ending in those moments. But it's better than going a few rounds with my son.

I have recently started exercising regularly again after a year+ hiatus, and honestly a portion of the reason for it is so that I can get stronger to better handle Noah as he grows and not get beaten to a pulp. Any parent of a child with autism will tell you that when they are melting, they get freakishly strong, it's as though they turn super human for a little while. You have to be able to hold them off, or physically remove them from situations where necessary. It is weird to even have to think about that with my nearly 9 year old boy. But it is reality for me.

So if I'm out and about all banged up looking like I've taken up cage fighting, or wearing helmets or padding at seemingly inappropriate times, or completely lose it when you ask me how I'm doing, just smile at me and know the lunacy is temporary. I will return to a relatively normal human being capable of rational thought and good conversation again soon. Just please, today, don't mess with me. Or risk having your own fight or flight response tested.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dough of the Playing Variety

If you too would like to be known as the best Mum ever, make some of this play dough over the Christmas break. Of all the recipes I have tried, I think this one yields the smoothest, softest dough. My kids LOVE it. One batch makes about the same amount as two of the larger size playdough cans, so I usually divide it and do 2 colours per batch. Here is what you need:

1 c. flour
1/2 c. salt
1 c. water
1 TB oil
2 TB cream of tartar
Food colouring (primary colours are great, and the fluorescents work really well too)

Combine dry ingredients in a pot, then add water and oil and stir. Cook 3-5 minutes over med-low heat, stirring constantly until a ball forms. Remove from heat. Take it out of the pot and put on a surface that won't be ruined if colour gets on it. Add colour and knead in. Store in airtight container.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dip: Not Fit For Celery

Have you ever made a new recipe and then wished you had never found it in the first place? I'm not talking the colossal failures, I'm talking the ones you can't stop eating. I have found a few of those this past year, but the most recent is a little Pinterest gem:

Cookie Dough Dip.

Here's the recipe:

8 oz cream cheese, soft
1/2 c butter, soft
1 c. powdered sugar
2 TB brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c. chocolate chips (any kind you like, I prefer the Mini chocolate chips)
1/2 c. Heath toffee bits (get them already smashed up, right by the chocolate chips in the baking aisle)

Beat the cream cheese and butter together. Add everything else, and blend at low speed. Chill.

Serve with graham crackers or some other plain cookie. If you like the salty/sweet combo, you can also serve it with pretzels. And in the interest of decorum and good manners, I would remind you that it's not polite to just shove your whole face in there.

This is what theirs looked like:

Here's mine:

Monday, December 12, 2011

I Know Merry Christmas and I'm Not Afraid to Use It

Every time I hear "Happy holidays" or "holiday shopping" or "holiday sale" I cringe a little. In fact I'm out and out bugged. I find myself asking aloud, no matter the circumstance, "Which holiday is that?" And 99% of the time, the correct answer is Christmas.

In Canada, the word 'holiday' is used interchangeably with the word 'vacation' (and I believe in the UK, the word holiday is used over the word vacation, but any of my Brit friends can correct me there if I'm wrong). It also means any official day off of anything.

Just wish me a Merry Christmas. Heck, wish me a Happy Hanukkah, I'd cheerfully say that right back to whomever offered it. Do not wish me Happy Holidays. I'm not on holiday, I'm not going on holiday, but I am very busy getting ready for Christmas.

I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus Christ. I happily celebrate His birth this and every Christmas season. Some people don't. That's just fine. But not believing in Christmas' true meaning doesn't make it any less what it is, any more than not knowing or liking me makes my birthday not my birthday.

What is everyone so worried about? Who is getting so offended by hearing the word Christmas? No one is forcing anyone to take part in any of it if that's not what they choose. I have had people say all kinds of things to me that have nothing to do with who I am or what I believe, but if the intent is kind and well meaning, I will never take offense. I was once wished a Happy Mother's Day when I was not yet a mother, and in fact was having a difficult time trying to become one, but I smiled, and said the same thing back. It was somebody trying to be kind, I could never have grumbled at that sweet lady for what she said.

So if there is any confusion left, I give you a tutorial in pictures.

Holiday tree

Christmas tree

Holiday lights

Christmas lights

Hanukkah 'lights'

Holiday card

Christmas cards

If you were hoping for some warmer, gushier Christmasy post, try one of these:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I'm Not the Girl That I Intend to Be

My title is a line from a Sarah Bareilles song, and every time I hear it, I am tempted to shout an "AMEN!" I am falling short pretty much across the board these days (please refrain from making any height jokes). It's not just a matter of not getting to things on my to-do list, although that is one glaring category. It's big things like the dreams I had once, the person I thought I was, or that I thought I'd be by now.

But life doesn't go in a straight line.

Sometimes that's my fault. I have made decisions and choices that have been everything from dumb to questionable to freaking brilliant. But that's the thing with decisions. They lead places. And you don't get to pick all the destinations.

And other people get to make decisions too. Sometimes they are not good at it.

Bad things happen even when you have good intentions and make good decisions.

You can mean well but make things worse.

You don't know what's coming. Ever. So what you do today, though it's great for today, might make the you five years from now crazy, that you were such a blockhead and so shortsighted.

Some good choices make other good choices impossible.

Some goof-ups won't ever go away. Ever.

You can have a dream, and even some talent, and the answer may still be no. Or it could be yes. And the no could be good and the yes could be bad in the end. Or vice versa and all that.

I intend to be better, smarter, happier, more productive, nicer, funnier, more care-free, more helpful... but. You know. I'm not.

Come to think of it, the girl I intend to be sounds like somebody I probably wouldn't hang out with. I kind of dig imperfection. What's that saying? "Everything has a crack. That's how the light gets in."

And light is good.

I may not be who and where I thought I'd be by now, but there is an awful lot of light in my life.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hair Experiment #1

This is what I tried:

This is my hair, damp, before:

Here's what it looked like after:

It doesn't look like the how-to, but it looks decent. When following instructions to a tee, I hoped for better than decent. But my hair is nuts, and it doesn't curl in the back, so I guess I'll call this one a partial success. On to the next... ;)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nothing But Respect, Grandma, Nothing But Respect.

I did a little bit of grocery shopping this morning. I had 2 kids with me and a full cart (thanks to the car seat) and could barely see where I was going. We were approaching the check out lines, and since there were only two open, we headed toward the shorter of the two. A little white haired old lady was slowly, gingerly making her way with her cart, alongside us. I began my turn toward checkout #7, and suddenly, out of nowhere, Little Old Lady sped up, darted to the inside lane, passed us, and cruised right into checkout #7 where she then slowly, gingerly unloaded her few groceries onto the conveyer. I hid my face behind the car seat and burst out laughing, and then not loud enough for her to hear said "Well played, Grandma."

Had it been anyone else, any other demographic, I would have been bent out of shape and may have even let that person know what I thought about them butting in. Instead I waited with a huge smile on my face because honestly? I was impressed. Get back to me in about 45-50 years, I'm stealing her move.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pin Worthy?

I am a little behind, as usual, but I have finally gotten on Overall, I am loving it, as it allows me to remember and keep all the awesome things I find online all in one place. No more million bookmarks, or spending hours trying to find that-one-thing-I-found-on-that-one-website.

Some of the things I have pinned on my boards are things that are tried and true that I love, other things are just cool finds that I hope to have/make/try at some point. To this end, I have decided I will hold regular Pinterest experiments here on my blog. I will take pictures and report on the outcome of whatever I'm trying out. This will include recipes, hairstyling techniques, household or cleaning tricks or shortcuts, or heaven help me even a craft or two, pretty much anything I find that looks awesome.

This is prompted by some hairstyling tutorials I have found online that I absolutely know will not turn out on me the way they are portrayed. Mostly due to my lack of skill, but also because I swear some people post how-to's or things online that they know an average joe can't do, just to mess with us.

So here's to hopefully some successes (Pin Worthy!) and lots of failures, because goodness knows the failures will make for a much more interesting and entertaining read.

In the meantime, here's my Pinterest page. If you aren't on there yet, but want to be, send me an email and I'll send you an invite. If I know you. And I know for a fact that you aren't nuts. There have to be minimum requirements.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I Don't Get It: High Heels

We all know it, so I'm just going to say it. I'm short. I don't like it, but there it is.

High heeled shoes should be my greatest love, but I hate them. What sadist came up with this torturous bit of brilliance, anyway? They are uncomfortable. They hurt my feet, mess up my posture, the taller ones have to be at least a little bit dangerous, and let's face it, they're one of fashion's more dishonest items (Spanx or padded bras I think win that category). "No really, I'm this tall, and my calves always have this impressive muscular looking indentation..."

For me, I feel a little self conscious in heels, like everyone must be looking at me the way they do a guy in a bad toupe or driving a souped up I'm-trying-to-compensate-for-something sports car- "Look at the short girl trying to look tall." with a half pity-filled, half sneering head tilt. I don't need that grief, even if I'm only imagining it.

I haven't ever really needed heels. I only ever had one boyfriend who was tall enough that I had to stand on a step to be anywhere near his face, otherwise, I've never had moments where I haven't worn heels but wished I had.

I'm far too practical I think, as I think about things like getting mugged, or Noah running into the road- I need the ability to run. I cannot run in high heels. I cannot balance babies and diaper bags when I wear heels. My impressionable teen years were spent playing soccer (cleats), riding horses (equestrian boots) and babysitting (socks). Not a stiletto in sight.

Why haven't women as a whole realized that the guys are running around pain free, using their entire foot to propel themselves around, while we stand there in heels? Or we gingerly follow behind, aerating the grass as we go. Don't you think visitors from another planet would take one look at us and assume we were all being punished for something?

I can appreciate a nice dress shoe, on occasion, with a little boost in the back for creating a bit of a feminine line, a slightly dance-y walk. But wear anything too tall, and you know if the balls of your feet could talk, they'd be screaming for mercy. Or swearing.

And winter?! Crossing an icy parking lot in high heels could easily qualify as an extreme sport. I swear I can actually hear the low voices of commentators critiquing my technique or lack thereof as I exit church some freezing Sundays. "She's going to have to stay focused and stick that curb landing after such a disappointing bumper grab by the minivan earlier..."

I may be in the minority on this one. But tall girls don't need to be taller, short girls aren't fooling anyone. I'd like to adopt an all flip flops or boots policy for myself, but in the meantime, just know that any time I'm wearing heels, you can totally steal my purse and I won't be able to do a dang thing about it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mum Speak 101

1. "Give me a break." means nothing. Nobody can and nobody will.
2. "I'm so tired." means I want to tidy non-stop, break up fights, and make a lovely dinner which most of you will complain about having to eat.
3. "Come here." means stay right where you are and pretend you didn't hear me.
4. "Put away your clean laundry." means take it into your room complaining mightily the whole way, and then toss it around the room so that none of the floor is visible.
5. "I need to get out." means, when it's convenient for everyone else, and not at all for me, I'd like to explore the grocery store thoroughly, all alone, at an ungodly hour and call that time for myself.
6. "No more candy." means quick, run to the pantry, grab what you can reach, cram it in your mouth wrappers and all, and I'll be happy to clean up the vomit in your bed in an hour or so.
7. "Be quiet, the baby is sleeping." means scream, yell, throw things, ride every possible wheeled toy across the wood floor, chase your siblings, and feel free to walk right in to baby's room for no reason at all.
8. "I don't want to watch this." means I want to watch one of the other shows that I can't stand, just not this one.
9. "Go clean your face." means sit right there and use that perfectly clean shirt you're wearing to wipe up dinner and your runny nose all in one convenient swipe.
10. "I love you." means I love you. And we'll do it again tomorrow.