Friday, December 24, 2010

Embracing Important Things in Life and Letting Go of Everything Else

So I know I fell off the bloggy bandwagon a few weeks ago. sigh. But it was for VERY good reason.

We celebrated my birthday with a trip to Toronto to see Stuart McLean and the Vinyl Cafe at Convocation Hall at University of Toronto. It's A's alma mater so it was nice for him to be back on campus if even only for a short time. It was J's first time seeing Stuart and C's second. The boys were wonderfully well behaved and it was magical watching the show in the very very old Hall.

Then there have been all the Christmas preparations. I really wanted to embrace this Holiday season. I didn't want it to all fly by and have regrets about the things I wished we had done (or that I had done).

So I made cookies - lots and lots of cookies. C was proud to be my helper and this year he actually helped. He became a pro at using the cookie press and was quite creative in the topping placements and choices.

and gift trays and baskets for teachers, educational assistants and other school staff. Plus former co-workers and community agency professionals that have done so much for our family this past year.

There was the Christmas photo (did it myself and it went wonderful - after about 50 shots and me losing my mind) and cards (which I was determined to do as I hadn't been able to last year) and the family newsletter (yes we do one but no it isn't all just bragging about how great our kids are).

Then there were the Gingerbread masterpieces. Usually we do a prefab store bought house. This year I was determined to create one. Then the boys couldn't decide what kind. So C asked for a castle and J asked for Big Ben. Uhhhhh, ok, thanks guys - didn't they realize I had never done this before? But it went surprisingly well and we ended up with


So that is where I have been and we haven't even celebrated Christmas yet. For THAT we have to head out to spend it with family.

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 10, 2010

CMB 6 - Workers Who Are Worth Their Weight in Gold

*** scroll down or click here to read more about what CMB (Counting My Blessings) stands for and why I am doing it. I'm not getting to it everyday but I am trying.

Long long ago I also was a support worker (aka Respite Provider, Special Services at Home worker, Consultant etc etc). I LOVED that job and I was awesome at it (if I do say so myself). So when C came along and daycare and private childcare did not pan out it became clear we would need to go one step further to provide his care while I was working. The first several years after his adoption were extremely difficult and trying times - confounded by the fact that we could not get ANY type of funding or assistance for him or our family. He wasn't "developmental" enough to access services and supports for children with developmental disabilities and our family was not in crisis enough to receive supports through Children's mental health.

So basically we bankrolled our own support workers - which meant I could keep my job (which I loved and kept me sane) as well as keep the awesome extended benefits plan. It also meant that my pay cheque basically went to paying support staff. We have had some awesome workers and a few who were absolute DUDS. I learned quickly that most would come to the interview gushing that they "loved working with all children" but only a few would still be saying that after a few days with our son. We have had some workers that had very little formal training or experience but did awesome with C. They tend to be calm and loving but able to be firm when necessary. Control freaks, we have learned, need not apply. If you are going to freak out every time my kid goes near your car or if you shrink back every time he tries to touch or hug you - well, don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. If you are going to need him to do everything you say the minute you say it. Uh, yah, good luck with that. If you tremble at the idea of a kid blurting out embarrassing things while on an outing - uh, yah, might want to look elsewhere for employment.

Support Workers Who Make Our Family Life EASIER are worth their weight in gold. If you haven't experienced it yourself, believe me when I say there are times where we have hired a worker for C only to find that the support and problems solving and training and hand holding of that staff actually adds to our family stress level and takes away any benefit we would have gained from having proper support.

We have been blessed with some amazing support staff over the years and currently. They all have been unique - no two are even remotely alike on the surface. Well, that's not true - the ones that work out the absolute best have ALL been female and they all have been fairly petite with soft voices and extremely loving personalities. But at the core, they have all been able to maintain the control that C so desperately needs someone to hold but they have done it in a way that does not translate into power struggles with him. They allow him to save face, they allow him to use his voice and to negotiate. They somehow manage, no matter how hard the day has been, to smile and hug him and to promise to come back. And they do - they keep coming back. Even those, who through life circumstances (graduation, new jobs, marriage and so forth) - those workers worth their weight in gold, they stay in touch. They send letters or emails, they take time to stop by even for a few minutes. They help C to learn that while people may need to move on in certain aspects of their life, they can and do remain your friend. They still care - just from afar.

To all those who support our son, in the trenches where the days can be long and hard but full of awesome rewards, we count you as one of our blessings and we will be forever thankful and indebted to you.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Counting My Blessings 4 - Angels Who Walk Amoung Us

Do you ever have those one time encounters - where somehow this stranger just says the right thing at the right time or does something to help you in a way that you didn't even know you needed? Then that person is gone and usually you don't even know their name but what they did for you, the memory of that, is burned into your heart and soul forever???

It has happened so many times over the years, particularly when I was in the midst of dealing with C and a meltdown in some public place and at my wits end, completely out of ideas as to how to get him out of the situation and safely home. One of the first times I remember was when C was enrolled in a preschool sports club at our local community centre. We knew he was struggling at school and had difficulty reading social situations and acting appropriately but we didn't have a "diagnosis" to pin on him to try to explain to people. We knew it was more than him just being immature or choosing to be a "brat". Unfortunately other people didn't know and I was struggling to try and get the staff at the community centre to understand and to let me help. On this particular day, I was feeling embarrassed and chastised and I felt like all the eyes of the parents in the waiting room were on me. I had settled C back into class and flopped on to a chair - ducking my head and willing myself not to cry. I vacillated between being angry, embarrassed, overwhelmed, anxious - the whole gamut.

A lady came and sat beside me. She began to speak. She shared the story of her brother - of who my C reminded her of. This woman and I were strangers. But she opened up to me and we both got tears in her eyes as she spoke of her brother and her admiration for her mother - oh how her mother worked and fought for her brother over the years. Just before she left she told me "he reminds me of my brother and he's doing great now. And you remind me of my mother - you are doing great". She left, I never saw her again but I have never forgotten her.

There have been other times - two times that stand out in particular revolved around someone hitting my car. Seriously. On two different occasions, several years apart. The first time we were at the school, which is just down the street from our house so I would rarely have my car parked at the school. But I had been called because C was having a rough afternoon and so I had raced directly to the school. Once I arrived things went quickly down hill, which was not the usual course of events, and it was dismissal time and my son was wreaking havoc in the secretary's office - refusing to come with me, not even letting me approach him. I was standing there, actively praying silently "dear god, please help me through this. Help me to help him when I have no clue what to do". Suddenly a man, who I had NEVER seen before, enters the office and says "excuse me, I'm looking for who owns the very small grey car out front" and it turns out he has backed into my car but instead of just being like so many people and just driving away he has come to find me. Me, the woman who has just had an awful day at work only to be topped by a 7 year old ball of energy that was my son. Suddenly, my son stopped - his body grew still, his tears subsided, he stood up and looked at the man "you hit my moms car?" and with that my son had moved on to something else. Overwhelmed by the need to fulfill his rightful role of worrier and surveyor of his mother's car, he walked calmly with me to the vehicle. In the end there was a small dent in the licence plate - that was it. I never saw that man again and no one at the school could identify who he was. I knew, he was an angel sent to help.

The second time was remarkably similar - C was at Cubs, where he had made friends and was doing very well but on this day he had become dysregulated and I couldn't get him to leave. I didn't want him to be humiliated and I didn't want people to judge him for this momentary lapse. None of my tricks worked though and I was quickly getting pulled into the abyss that C and I were always teetering on at that time in our lives. Suddenly a woman - never seen before, never to be seen again entered the church hall to inform us she had backed into someones vehicle - a "small grey car". C stopped in his tracks and grabbed his coat. We went out to survey any damage (a very minute dent in the side panel - soooooo worth it in the long run). The woman was soaking wet as it was pouring and she looked so distressed. I knew A might be unhappy with me but I just thanked her for letting me know and waved off her insurance information - it was so minor and I needed to get C home.

The first angel went out of her way to share with me - the other 2 disappeared as fast as they appeared. All 3 I have no doubt are angels, sent to bless us when we most needed it. For that I am forever grateful.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Counting My Blessings 3 - His Love

We met when I was 18 and he was 24. I was a first year University student, he was living and working in Toronto. It started out less than ideal but fate must have been working its magic.

I know he tried not to love me. He thought the age difference was too much, that we wanted different things in life. He had been hurt before but he wanted to find love, to find a wife and to start a family. I had to convince him I wanted the same. He told me he loved me for the first time before he meant to. He asked me to marry him before he meant to. He loved me fully and completely.

I have loved him for half my life but even more importantly I have had his love for all that time. Through the early days of crappy jobs and crazy school schedules. Through working full time, going to school full time and planning a wedding long distance. Through sorting out who I am as a person and the heartache of years of infertility. Through adoption and raising our spirited boys. Through times where I questioned whether our marriage could make it - I have had his love. He has loved me through it all, despite it all, perhaps in some ways because of it all.

I often take his love for granted. But I want him and all of you to know that his love is the most important blessing in my life.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Counting My Blessings 2 - Home

We lived in an apartment on the "bad side" of town for almost 7 years, saving up while all the young couples around us jumped into big time debt and bought houses with astronomical mortgages. I rallied against A many times, trying to get him to agree to move, even to a rented town home just so I could feel like we were getting on with our lives.

He didn't give in and I am so thankful for that. When it was time to look for a house to buy we did weekend after weekend of open houses and A kept me aimed at the houses at the low end of our budget - again I was slightly resentful but again I am so thankful.

The summer of 2002 we moved into our new home and we have no intentions of ever leaving. Once in a while we think about what it would be like to live in a larger home, one with a guest room or even an in-law suite for my mother in law. Once in a while I visit friends and allow myself to be envious of their vast rooms and stylish kitchens. But the truth is we likely stay where we are for MANY MANY years and with my financially frugal husband our mortgage will be paid off around the time C graduates highschool.

Its a modest home. We often neglect her. But she is ours and she is a part of our family. We know we are so blessed to have our home - so many people have less by far and we know it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Counting My Blessings Day 1 - Coffee, Chocolate and Boxes

Wordless Wednesday

Counting My Blessings

Every year since becoming a mom I have wanted to really savour and relish the holiday season - every year I am so busy and everything just slips by. Last year was the worst by far - our whole family was in crisis and it was all we could do to get through. For the first time in almost 20 years I did not send out a single Christmas card - just couldn't do it. And that was ok - it was necessary. We still went through the motions the best we could last year - still made the Gingerbread house and decorated the tree. I hardly remember any of it. I was in survival mode.

This year I am not working, we have more supports in place for C and we are all in a much better place. 2010 has been, by far, the hardest year for our family and I can't say I will be sad to see it go. But amidst all of the hardship there have been some amazing things to come - renewed friendship, random acts of kindness, reconnecting as a family, maturing and taking some steps toward independence and so on. So really, as my the title of my blog indicates - I am usually a pretty optimistic and grateful person. My boys might drive me crazy at times but I do view them as blessings.

When engaged in extreme parenting of kids with complex needs it can become second nature to live from one crisis to the next, merely surviving. There were long periods of time this past year that I was sure we were losing our son to the depths of mental illness he would never return from. He has returned and our family is once again strong and together and honestly even better than we were before. The one thing I learned early on in all of this is to count my blessings and to revel in each moment that was good, one day (or hour or even second) at a time.

So in December (I'm going to try for everyday - we'll see) I am going to post about the many blessings in my life. Some will be somewhat random and fun and others will be very serious and thought out. I hope you will stick around and perhaps post some of your own blessings.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What I Have Been Up To

Amidst the heavy advocacy we continue to have to do for C we were planning a trip away, just A and I, to Chicago.

Its a city A has always wanted to visit and I want to go anywhere A wants to go.

So for weeks I cleaned and organized the house and tried to co-ordinate care for the boys. We thought back in September that we had a plan for Respite for C all worked out. Then it became glaringly and painfully obvious that those plans were not going to work. On to Plan B and thankfully Grandma came to the rescue! She adores C and while she doesn't always understand him and his ways her love goes a long way to helping him through the day.

With all the plans in place we headed out

I am NOT a seasoned traveller. Someone REALLY should warn people about the cramped interior of these planes. Seriously I started to have a panic attack - I didn't even know I was claustrophobic until I sat in my seat.

Luckily the flight was short and A was a blessing with his keen sense of direction once we landed. He navigated us through the airport and public transit with ease. By 2p.m. we were relaxing in our awesome hotel room at Homewood Suites. Very nice, clean, quiet and superb complimentary breakfast. It was central to everything.

Over the next few days we enjoyed amazing views, food and shopping. Navy Pier, Magnificent Mile, Museums, of course the Hershey store.

Most of all, for the first time in who knows how long it was just my man and I. We ate, we walked, we talked and soaked in everything. We weren't in a rush, we weren't worried about the boys - REALLY I wasn't worried about them at all for once. By the end of the trip we were physically exhausted, Chicago is not for lightweights, but our spirits were well rested and rejuvenated.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Just for Today

Just for today, I'd like to not feel like I have to fight for my kid

or that I have to convince people he DOES belong

Just for today, I'd like to not have a lump in my throat

or a huge knot in my stomach

Just for today, I'd like there to be no phone calls and emails

or the need to explain to people the same things over and over and over

Just for today, I'd like to not have to champion my son

or to feel like if I don't speak up my son, and others like him,

will be bullied and hurt by the people who are supposed to help them

Just for today I'd like the world to not be a scary

and potentially dangerous place for my son

Just for today I wish people could just do the right thing

because it's the right thing to do

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Perfect Holiday

I am wandering around the house putting away the Halloween decorations today and I'm feeling a little sad. This Halloween was REALLY good. I never really went all out for Halloween before, its always been an okay but not a real stand out holiday for me in any way. Not to mention that for C, October is always a VERY hard month. Lots of trauma anniversaries and upset and school is getting harder and . . . well you get the picture. Add to that the excitement and dysregulation (like the time I had to carry all 50 lbs of him kicking and screaming home about 4 blocks over a misunderstanding) that Trick or Treating brings and usually by October 31st all I want to do is curl up in a fetal position and sleep til New Years.

But I do like to throw parties for my kids. And last year I realized J rarely gets to have friends over because, well, life can be hard in this house of ours. So I pushed aside my own exhaustion and we planned a Halloween party.My long time best friend and her boyfriend came from out of town (they even dressed up!) and everyone had a great time, especially me.

With everything that has gone on in our family this past year I am trying to slow down, take some deep breaths and enjoy life more. So I went all out with the decorations at Halloween and we planned another party. While we were out with the boys Trick or Treating I realized I was very content and relaxed. J was no longer tripping and falling all over the place. They weren't running off in different directions. C was so calm and regulated that he became an impromptu helper to several children who were younger than him. He held screen doors open for them and knocked for them, he let them go ahead of him, he steadied young costumed children who were jostled by eager counterparts, he reminded other older children to let the little ones go first. He charmed people with his manners, going above and beyond a simple "thank you". He would give unique and meaningful feedback to people such as "love your jack o lantern" or "awesome decorations". He gave a heartfelt "Happy Halloween" as a parting comment at each door.

We then came home and he was so exhausted he didn't want to go back out with his brother. So he sat, all bundled up on the front porch, waiting for Treaters - complimenting costumes, chatting people up while he practically filled their bags with candy from our bowl. He was in seventh heaven. He is such a people person but often is unsure of what to say or do. It was then that I realized Halloween is the perfect holiday for him. He gets to dress up and pretend, he gets to meet new people and be helpful, he gets candy given to him at strangers doors (plus he gets to peek inside their houses. lol) and he gets to reciprocate by handing out candy from his own house. We couldn't have planned it better if we tried. Too bad Halloween is only once a year.

Friday, October 29, 2010

I am sitting here at the computer responding to a few emails before I quickly eat and then maybe finally shower and then I need to bake some cupcakes and clean and and and . . . all before I go for yet ANOTHER treatment/placement/services meeting about C. I started to think - how many of these meetings for C have I been to??? Honestly if I had to guess I would say it has been no less than 150 in 8 years. Thats NOT including all the medical appointments.

Each meeting is AT LEAST an hour. Usually a lot more and usually longer because of me - I like to be thorough and C is a complex kid.

So even if we are conservative and say half those meetings are 1 hour and half were 2 hours long then that means I have spent at least 225 hours in meetings

that's not including all the phone calls and letters leading up to them

its not including the travel time to and from and MANY I have to travel 2 hours away to get to!!!!

Oh my, and its not including all the parent and kid groups for treatment and again we travel over 200km each away to get to those - sometimes we have to go once a week for 10-12 weeks (like I am now for an attachment group).


No wonder I am soooooo flipping tired of meetings

I have one this afternoon.

Its very important.

I don't want to go

Can you imagine if I just didn't show up?????

All of you other mom's of "spirited" kids know what I am talking about here. We love our kids but it feels good to think for just a minute that I don't have to go to this meeting. I could just stand there and stomp my foot and say "NO MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" and instead go get a Pumpkin Latte and sit by a warm fireplace somewhere and read a good book.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Getting Clear - Post on Hopeful Parents

I don't know about you but I did not expect to have to become an expert mediator when I became a parent. I suppose I anticipated honing my parenting skills as my children grew, making mistakes and learning from them. If pushed I would have agreed that there would likely be times I would be put in the uncomfortable role of needing to confront an adult in my child's life over something but I would have guessed it would have been something along the lines of not being played enough on the soccer field, or being wrongly accused of something at school. I didn't anticipate the sometimes daily onslaught of phone calls and meetings, intense negotiations that even the most skilled and trained mediator would find challenging.
Funny thing (well more ironic than funny "ha ha") is that I am a very socially anxious person. I have a hard time talking on the phone and could go days without even talking to someone if allowed. The idea of going to a room with as little as 3 people in it for whatever reason is enough to make me shake with nervousness and my mouth go dry. I hate confrontation of any sort and I even have a hard time figuring out how I FEEL about things. Most people who know me are completely flabbergasted when they find this out about me. My own husband of over 15 years used to think I was being flippant when he would ask me "Well how do YOU feel about it?" and I would answer "I don't know". I really didn't. As soon as my emotions were activated in any way that was remotely threatening or overwhelming to me I would "shut down" and I couldn't think straight at all. I would just feels waves of raw and very intense emotions, weird things would happen with my vision and more often than not I would no longer really be "hearing" anything that was being said. For those old enough to get the reference, think of the teacher on the Peanuts cartoon "wah wah wah". I didn't know if I was mad or sad or frustrated or feeling threatened. All I knew was there was a panic bell going off in my head.

To read the rest head over to Hopeful Parents

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Still Here

I wanted to pop on and let you all (all 5 of you - lol) that I am still here but my kids were gracious enough to share their cold with me last week that has seriously kicked my butt. I haven't been this sick in a very long time.

But I woke up this morning and realized.

I have been sick for about a week. During that time there have been many changes and challenges - particularly for C. But he's doing GREAT!

In October EVERY year for 8 years C has struggled greatly. Not sleeping, hoarding food, out of control in a way that you know isn't his choice and is so painful to watch not to mention experience.

But he's doing great.

I probably just jinxed us. But honestly if I can openly bemoan the tragedies and struggles I should be able to shout the wondrous events from a mountain top.

He's doing great and so are we. Well, if I can get rid of this cold then I'll be great!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hopeful Parents

I am so excited to be over at Hopeful Parents today writing my first post about the role and need for hope in my life. I will be posting on the 27th of every month at Hopeful Parents so come on over and check it out.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


The three boys alternate between walking and running all the way home. They barely stop at the street to make sure it is clear before bolting across - talking excitedly all the way to our house about what they will play with first and the funny things that happened at school. At the house there is a brief disagreement about whether they will play inside or out. The vote is 2 to 1 for inside. The guests want to play inside, the host knows he has lost on 2 counts (the sheer numbers and the manner rule that dictates guest gets first choice of activity). He is disappointed but no voices are raised coming to the decision, no feelings hurt. It takes all of 30 seconds and then they are agreed and all head inside.

Once inside they all throw off their shoes and backpacks, practically falling onto the toys before they even have their things off. I place snacks on the table and alert them they are there and then leave the room. I listen from my computer desk upstairs - the negotiations, the pretend battles and the plans for bigger and better adventures. No one calls for me. No one fights or gets physical. No one needs assistance in anyway.

I am not used to being this mom. I love it (I think), I have longed for it but it feels foreign. For my entire time of being a mom I have been actively on duty during every moment. I don't know how to be the mom who dissapears and only comes back once in a while to check in. I WANT to be that mom - I don't want to be a helicopter parent. I have just had to be. So this, this is very unfamiliar yet I hope it becomes more common.

While I sit at my desk and the boys play I am painfully aware that 2 of the three older siblings of these boys are down the street at the school, playing soccer. For the past two years that was my son as well. This year things are much different. My oldest is, at least for now, attending a Day Treatment school. There will be no soccer team for him this year. That hurts but I am also thankful that we are in a better place than we were several months ago. That we are on our way back, maybe to future soccer teams. There is also my awareness that if my oldest were home at the end of the school day on this particular day, these friends never would have been able to come over and my youngest never would have had this experience. That's hard to swallow. We wanted to believe for so long that we were doing a great job at managing C's needs and yet still fulfilling the needs of J. But how could we have been when C's daily rages meant not only was J expected to keep himself busy but no way could having people over ever have worked out? 6 year old boys should be able to have friends over.

So it is bittersweet that my youngest gets to experience "typical" 6 year old boy activities and I mourn a little for the "typical" experiences that C worked so hard to achieve and then, at least momentarily, lost. I grieve for all those experiences that C (and I) never got to have. I love where my boys are at right now, the stages and the experiences. I am so grateful for so much. But today is bittersweet.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sweet Sweet Denial

I admit wholeheartedly that denial is one of my strongest coping strategies.

Denial often gets a bad rap, people berate themselves for living in denial and people judge each other about states of denial.

Denial and me - we are like that (you can't see me but I am crossing my fingers together to connote that we are very very close). I am good with that. Denial is a welcome friend at times.

Unfortunately I also have too much insider knowledge sometimes. Having worked for over 15 years in early intervention with a focus on mental health and for quite some time as an advocate and resource to families of children with disabilities - sometimes I have way too much information inside this brain to be able to deny the path we are on or what something might mean. That's hard. When I am dealing with an agency in town I can try to only go by the experiences we directly have with that agency but I cannot, and should not, ignore other people and family experiences with that same agency. If I have sat in a meeting where a professional for that agency acted reprehensibly and then when the parent appealed to higher powers and was rebuked - then I need to take that into account for my own family. If an agency acted in (what I think is) an abusive way to a child in their care - I NEED to take that into account when considering options for my own child.

But sometimes that knowledge and experience can make you hyper vigilant and it becomes very hard to trust. You cannot take people at their word - you find that you need them to prove to you over and over that in the end they will do what is right and do the least harm possible. That, as many of you know, is exhausting all on its own. I am already exhausted by the time I drop off C every morning - to then spend the day trying not to worry and the nights going over and over the events of that day - beyond exhausting.

That makes me sad. That is how my son lives and now I follow in his footsteps. I don't worry that my son will be misunderstood or hurt (emotionally more than physically) in some way. I assume that he will. Instead I hope that the occurrence will be minimal and that the people involved will be able to repair their relationship with him AND me.

C had a very difficult day yesterday in his day treatment program. From all accounts (even from C) it seems as though they handled it quite well. Of course there are things that I would have done differently. Of course I only have part of the story and will never get the whole story as I was not there. Of course there are a couple of items from the day that give me pause and concern but no alarm bells are screeching. At least not yet. A is counselling me to go in on Monday and focus with them about all the things they did right - much like the approach we would take with C himself. Focus on the positive. I know he is right, I had the same thought. But I also feel worried that I might reinforce the negative aspects of what I understood occurred. There aren't many (that I know of) but they feel important to me because they are important to C.

So as we head into this weekend I am inviting sweet denial to come on over and hang out at my house. She did a great job around the whole domestic duties issue (my house is a mess and I have been blissfully able to ignore it) and now that I have emerged from denial about the house there should be plenty of time and room for her to work her magic as far as C and agency issues. A healthy dose of denial for even just a few days would be welcome.

Friday, September 10, 2010

World Suicide Prevention Day

Tuesday December 11th, 1990

Right now I am sitting in front of my locker and no one knows what I have done. I'm scared. Scared that everyone will hate me and no one will understand what I've just done. Scared to live though. I really am. I honestly can't see a future. I want someone to help me, to take away the hurt and make me happy but no one can.
Please forgive me for I am so sorry.


That was part of the suicide note I wrote on my 17th Birthday.It was about 4 weeks after I had BEGGED for help and sat in the Hospital Emergency room with my high school guidance counsellor for 5 hours. I had two wonderful teachers that had noted something was wrong and they worked so hard to get me the help I needed. Children's Mental Health services and awareness in 1990 was even less than it is today. I had "held on" and managed to see a Psychiatrist through the emergency room and he wrote a script for Prozac, with 2 refills, without a second glance. There were no other services or treatment offered, just the prescription and an appointment for 6 weeks later for follow up. My loving and concerned yet ill informed parents filled it and gave me the bottle to administer to myself. I took it for several weeks and was not feeling any better. The day after I got the prescription re-filled was my birthday and I was just more miserable and more lost, more lonely and more desperate. When I downed the contents of the bottle on my lunch hour at school I hadn't planned to do it that day or in that way but thinking and writing about my death had been the primary focus of my life for quite some time by that point.

I remember standing there, stunned, staring at the empty bottle and thinking "now what?". Part of me felt a little exhilarated with the knowledge that my horrible existence would soon be over. I sat at my locker, my heart racing, and wrote the note. Then I realized I would likely pass out at my locker and be found unconscious or dead by some unsuspecting student. I felt horribly guilty that someone would find me like that. This wasn't at all what I had envisioned when I thought of the various ways to end my life. I began to panic. Eventually I went to my guidance counsellor and handed her the note I had written.

Beyond that was a long and very painful path of multiple hospitalizations and medication trials and repeated suicide attempts. I had some horrible and scary experiences while hospitalized as a 17 year old in an adult Psychiatric ward. I also met some amazing people along the way who began to help me rebuild my life and uncover the causes of my severe clinical depression. I lost and found friends along the way. My parents experienced unimaginable pain and sorrow. With the help of a therapist provided by the hospital where I had been an inpatient I was able to do a great deal of healing. With the right medications I was able to move past the deep depression and anxiety and function again.

20 years later I took my own 11 year old son to the emergency room after he brought me housecoat belts and rope, begging for me to tie him up because he was worried he was going to hurt himself. He repeatedly told us that he wanted to die. That life was too hard and he wanted to die so it all would stop. He begged us to keep him safe. We were sent home from the emergency room. There were no beds available, we were told there was nothing they could do. Thankfully we didn't listen. We made calls, pounded on doors and refused to stop until he received the treatment that he needed.

It goes without saying that I am glad I did not die that day in 1990. But my pain was so real and so raw I still break into a sweat when I think about those days. I am glad my son was able to tell us this past spring how horrible and desperate he felt. Unfortunately too many people die from suicide every day. The general public often thinks those that attempt or die from suicide are weak or desperate for attention. Mental illness is as much a true illness as Cancer and Diabetes. People who are struggling with any form of a mental illness need our support and assistance not our judgement. Its not that they want to die - they just don't know where to go, who to talk to or what to do. They just want the pain to end.

Today is world suicide prevention day. Here are some resources:

Friday, September 03, 2010

Do it Anyway

A few months ago, during one of my darkest and most hopeless of times, I found myself questioning if all that hard work for so many years being C's mom had been for nothing. Had we really added to his life if where we ended up was where all those "professionals" we saw in his early years predicted? I sat in front of our Social Worker and told him where my dark thoughts had led me that day. He reassured me that although perhaps I couldn't see it through my pain that day, we had done a lot for our son. I asked him to please just keep reminding me over the next few months that being his parents has made a difference to his life. He honoured that request as did the rest of the team. I needed their hope and conviction while I found my way out of the deep dark hole I was in.

A friend then sent me the following in an email a few days later. It hit home then and it hits home now as we try to navigate a new system and educate and build relationships in our home community with service providers.

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

~Mother Teresa

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Family, Funnel Cakes and Ferris Wheels

Throughout this year, one lesson we have taken to heart completely is to enjoy and savour every wonderful moment we have together as a family. With C doing well we headed off to Toronto for our 2nd Annual Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) family Getaway.

A rare moment of brotherly love to start off the day. Truth was they were both worried that the other one would step over the yellow line painted by the tracks - A and I were worried that in their desperate attempts to "save" each other that one of them would get thrown over the side. SIGH

He plugged his ears out of habit, and yet, the GO Train was not as loud as it used to be AND even though the Ex was very loud at times - it didn't seem to bother him as it had in the past.

This is an actual picture of me with my two boys on that insane ride. I felt guilted into joining my boys in some sort of ride and at least this one wouldn't spin me around violently. Thanks to A and my best friend from highschool who joined us that day - I felt I had no choice but to take the plunge. (Don't tell them but it ended up being a great experience for us all).

What is the Ex without a Funnel Cake??

J was SOOOOOOO excited to discover that this year he was old enough to go on most of the rides, including being able to drive his own bumper car. He did pretty well too.

We didn't tell the boys ahead of time but we were hoping we might be able to last until after dark - when the lights get turned on and the Ex is just magical. We knew there was a very real chance that C would not be able to last that long but . . . .

We didn't stay long after it began to get dark. But long enough for A and I to feel nostalgic for our younger years and the boys to experience the Midway come alive. We were all feeling pretty tired and worn out (and full!!) but the boys went repeatedly through this fun house before we left . . .

My childhood friend commented that perhaps they felt at home there - that was when I looked up and read the sign with the name. We rocked with laughter then gathered up the troops to head home. A glorious and much needed day for our family.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Driving down the street I almost pass by the boys on their bikes without a second glance. But I notice them - goofing off, treats from the store in one hand, pretending to run each other off the sidewalk. Their tanned skin and bruised legs tell stories about their adventurous summer.

I realize I have been sitting at the stop sign moments too long - it has hit me. These almost adolescent boys enjoying a long summer day of freedom - they are boys in my sons grade at school. He started Junior Kindergarten with all of them - when they were all on equal footing. Now they are worlds apart from my son in so many ways. My heart hurts for the things my son cannot do and tears threaten to spill down my face.

I glance at my son who is sitting in the passenger seat beside me. Has he noticed them? Does he long to be free like they are? He gives a little wave to them as we drive by. There is my answer and I find myself wishing in some ways that he was less aware, for his sake. As we leave them behind he leans his head against the glass and closes his eyes.

He is all too aware of the differences, his longing is strong even if it is not voiced. I hold back tears but I reach over and take his hand. He squeezes it and I wish I knew what to say to make it better. But I know nothing I say would take away the pain of his longing and his feelings of loss. There are no words.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Today I Almost Fell Off My Chair

The phone rang and I walked to it, glancing at the call display and seeing an increasingly familiar number for the local treatment centre C recently began attending during the day. I realized my stomach had clenched and I had stopped breathing for a moment - an old familiar reaction to what I assumed was one of "those" calls. I considered for a moment not picking up. Denial can be a good thing, it's my friend on days like today. But I picked up and tried to brace myself for what would come.

"Hi Mom" greeted the chipper and clear voice of C.

"Hi C" I responded, hesitantly, trying not to convey my assumptions and worry through the phone as I waited for the onslaught . . .

"I just called to tell you that I'm having a great day. I played Chaotic with Joe. I got out of the pool 5 minutes early - it was my idea" His words came tumbling out. But they were full sentences, clear, easily understood. No need to interpret and ask further clarifying questions to understand the intent.

He was having a great day

He called just to tell me that

He played a card game with someone

He got out of the pool

It was his idea

Then as suddenly as the call had begun it ended with "I gotta go mom - we're heading outside to play ball. Bye. Don't come early"

He was going outside to play

He said he had to go

No whining or begging me to come get him

In fact - "Don't come early"

It took me a few moments to realize I was still holding the phone, dazed and confused, the fast dial tone scolding me for not hanging up.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

In Case We Were to Ever Forget

C has been home now for just over a week. For the most part things have gone well, particularly considering the plans for him to start attending our local treatment centre summer program from 9am-3pm each weekday was put on hold until after some things got sorted. I am a little bitter about that delay, as is C, but that's a different post.

For the most part, as I said, things have gone well. A blow up maybe once a day or once every two days. Some spikes in his anxiety that put us all on edge but also some insight on his part as to what is going on at that moment - mainly an ever so slight acknowledgement that his OCD is trying to wreak havoc on him. That acknowledgement is HUGE, no matter how slight, as it has been something we have been working towards for YEARS. So there were a couple of days where I started to question the big respite/day treatment plan we have submitted for C. Maybe we were going overboard, maybe he's improved and its really not that dire anymore.

Then mid-week both A and I started out with what we thought were seasonal allergies but ended up being summer colds. UGH. Then a long time co-worker and friend of A's passed away - he had been ill but no one expected his death so quickly. It was and still is a shock. Of course, throughout all this we still have to parent our boys. As I sit sniffling at the computer and A languishes on our bed, both of us willing the other to get better to take care of things - during all that - C and J continue to make messes, fight, lose things, whine - you know, act like kids. But with C it is even more. He just CANNOT understand that our pain and illness, while they really have nothing to do with him, are very much real. No we are not going to just get up and get things every two minutes. Yes, our tempers are short and patience is non-existent.

We begin to come down harsh on him. Almost berating him for not understanding why things are not normal in our house right now. Then we beg him to just try to make do. Then we threaten. Then I cry and he becomes distressed by my tears. Still though he doesn't know how to make allowances. He becomes angry and physical, he begins to threaten to run, he honestly cannot back down and has backed himself in a corner. He doesn't know how to adjust his expectations, how to need us less. This whole weekend (and its only Saturday) seems to be a reminder, in case we were to ever forget (like I started to this past week), why we feel so utterly tired at the end of each day and why we need such high levels of supports in place.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bill of Rights

I am preparing for one of the most difficult and important meetings about C that I have ever had. Our whole plan and the funding associated with it is currently tied up in the assumption that he will attend Day Treatment at one of our local Children's Mental Health agencies. If this meeting does not go well I will be faced with either another HUGE fight to get him the resources and treatment he so desperately needs or I will have to decide the fight is not worth it and retreat - possibly still having to fight to reinstate the resources and supports we had before. And as I blogged before, this is no small feat - I am TERRIFIED of us going back to that dark place we were in before if we do not get the supports our family needs. I am just not willing to sell out my child and his needs to do it.

Amazingly enough, although I am anxious (when am I not???) - I am also really calm in knowing that what I am advocating for my son is the absolute truth and what he so absolutely requires. I am his voice tomorrow and I will represent who I know him to be. I will not be swayed by arguments that try to convince me of any truth other than his own. He is a GOOD kid who has worked HARD to get to where he is at. Adults around him using the Collaborative Problem solving (CPS) technique is what has brought him back from the brink of ultimate peril.

And with that I give you

Bill of Rights for Behaviourally Challenging Kids, © Ross W. Greene, Ph.D.

Behaviorally challenging kids have the right:

- To have their behavioral challenges understood as a form of developmental delay in the domains of flexibility/adaptability, frustration tolerance, and problem-solving

- To have people -- parents, teachers, mental health clinicians, doctors, coaches...everyone -- understand that challenging behavior is no less a form of developmental delay than delays in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and is deserving of the same compassion and approach as are applied to these other cognitive delays.

- Not to be misunderstood and counterproductively labeled as bratty, spoiled, manipulative, attention-seeking, coercive, limit-testing, controlling, or unmotivated.

- To have adults understand that challenging behavior occurs in response to specific unsolved problems -- homework, screen time, teeth brushing, clothing choices, sibling interactions, and so forth -- and that these unsolved problems are usually highly predictable and can therefore be solved proactively.

- To have adults understand that the primary goal of intervention is to collaboratively solve these problems in a way that is realistic and mutually satisfactory so that they don't precipitate challenging behavior any more.

- To have adults (and classmates) understand that time-outs, detentions, suspensions, expulsion, and isolation do not solve problems or "build character" but rather often make things worse.

- To have adults take a genuine interest in their concerns or perspectives, and to have those concerns and perspectives viewed as legitimate, important, and worth listening to and clarifying.

- To have adults in their lives who do not resort to physical intervention and are knowledgeable about and proficient in other means of solving problems.

- To have adults who understand that solving problems collaboratively -- rather than insisting on blind adherence to authority -- is what prepares kids for the demands they will face in the real world.

- To have adults understand that blind obedience to authority is dangerous, and that life in the real world requires expressing one's concerns, listening to the concerns of others, and working toward mutually satisfactory solutions.

I have printed it. I will laminate it tonight. I will place it before me at tomorrow's meeting. I will remind myself that I am not delusional. That I KNOW what my son needs and how he can be set up for success. It is not with coercion, physical force, threats and isolation. It is with mutual understanding and respect, its with collaboration and problem solving. It's not easy but I have seen it done. It works.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Collaborators not Prison Guards

Even before I became a parent, I worked for many years with children of varying ages with a variety of strengths and needs. Some of the children required physical assistance due to their diagnosis such as Cerebral Palsy. Others had Autism or Down Syndrome or developmental delays for unknown reasons. Some came from horrifically neglectful and/or abusive homes.

In my role as a Respite Provider, Special Services at Home worker, Physiotherapy Assistant, Intake Officer, Classroom teacher and finally Child and Family Consultant - I was charged with finding ways to utilize the young persons strengths to attempt to make gains in the areas that they struggled in.

Not once did I put a child who could not walk very well in time out because they weren't walking better. Not once did I comment to a parent that a child with a visual impairment could "do better if she just tried harder to see". Never was it part of the Support plan to implement behaviour management strategies to ensure that the child with seizures no longer inconvenienced the rest of us by having a seizure in their classroom.

Because that would be downright ridiculous and offensive - right?

Then WHY oh WHY is it alright for these same practices to be put in place for a child whose Neurology means they become inflexible in the midst of high anxiety? When intrusive thoughts compel them to lash out in anger or to try to run away. Why is it accepted practice to fill an IEP with behavioural goals the child will never be able to achieve just because "well all kids need to be able to do that"?

It hurts my heart and it damages my sons self-esteem every time he is set up to fail. Where behavioural expectations and consequences are too extreme to allow for his complex neurology. Why do we expect the child with the severely compromised neurology to make the most accommodations and change? Why wouldn't it be the adults in the child's life that could help set them up for success? When people fail to understand the reasons for why he acts as he does they disrespect him and his unique needs. I know my son and I know that when he is "non compliant" or "combative" it is because something has gone haywire in his usual routine or he's having anxiety or an OCD moment and the adult in his space either has not recognized it or did not have the tools to address it appropriately.

Imagine living in a world where everyday you are expected to strive to overcome huge neurological and mental health issues just to try to meet other people's expectations. Where you are never smart enough, calm enough, insightful enough. You are just so clearly never ENOUGH in their eyes. How would you feel being faced with that everyday? How long would you be able to function without shutting down or lashing out.

My son IS enough. He lacks some skills he needs. We hope he will continue to make progress but it is quite possible his brain might never be able to make some connections. From early trauma or neglect or the neurology he was born with - we don't know. We DO KNOW he has good reason for not behaving the way other children do. But in the end he is a child. A very good, loving, eager to please child who needs more collaborators in his corner rather than prison guards doling out arbitrary punishments.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

When Life Gives you Lemons

I admit I cringe whenever someone counsels me to "make sure to do things for you" and other pat things people say when you are a mom and that get magnified when you are parenting a child with complex needs. I hate being told what to do and I used to think "yah right, I'll find time for me when I am dead"

Truth is - even before kids I wasn't good at doing things for myself. I have a long track record of giving insatiably to other people. Always trying to make the world a better place, doing things for others, saving the world - you know.

The past year has shown me the deepest and darkest of how bad things can get if I allow myself to get burnt out. If I don't find ways to replenish and relax I won't survive and then who is going to take care of my family??? So I have been taking baby steps to reducing my stress and making time for myself. Today I went for a massage. Those that know me will be shocked. I shudder at the idea of people touching me, co-workers knew I wasn't the "hugging type". I carry all the tension in my shoulders and neck - that I knew. I am driving long distances several times a week, I worry about my son and I spend hours on the phone trying to work out details of his return and I feel the knots in my neck and shoulders growing by the minute. My migraines are hitting almost daily. It is all taking its toll.

So I took the plunge and with my best friend at my side (and giving me as much detail before hand as to what to expect) I went for a massage today.

It was glorious, it was absolutely wonderful. I think there was tension released today that I might have been holding on to since childhood. It didn't bother me at all to be touched and I loved every minute of it - even those painful moments where a knot was working out - the euphoria that was released after made it so worth it.

I smell like lemons and my arms feel 10 feet long. I could go for a nap but I must go pick up my youngest from camp. I've been thinking that an integral piece of my coping tool kit when C is home will have to be massages. And they are half the price of my therapy!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lean on Me

This past weekend my former work and the early intervention agency that played an important part in the adoptions and early development of both our boys, held a fundraiser walk/run. Those that know me are aware that while I keep my mind and spirit busy my physical body is often sedentary. Let's face it - I'm a couch potato through and through. I would love to say I was much more physically active before kids but that would be a lie. But lately A and I have been making a concerted effort to jump into life with both feet. To get up off the couch and away from the computer and to finally start crossing things off our ever growing to-do lists. Part of this impetus is, I believe, because while thrust into C's mental health crisis for several months we realized just how precious each "good" day is.

So C has been doing really well lately. He was coming home for the weekend. This walk was being held on the weekend. I felt compelled to give back to the agency that helped our family in so many ways and to do something as a family. I asked A what he thought and I was shocked when he promptly responded that he was in. I filled out the form online and clicked send. Then I felt sick to my stomach. Did I mention the walk was 5k AND I had signed all four of us up to do it together? What if C had a meltdown? What if physically I couldn't do it. But I pushed aside the negative thoughts and pushed on. We raised $205 in pledges in just 2 days and I hauled everyone out of bed Sunday to get them there for 8:30 a.m..

It was a beautiful day, sunny but breezy and without all the humidity we have had lately. I saw so many former co-workers and friends and I loved the feeling of being connected. The first event was a 100 metre dash for the kids. The boys lead the pack then J suddenly veered off course (it was a little confusing as to where to go) and C, worried about his brother, gave up his lead to go after his brother and get him back on course. Made my heart melt.

Then it was time for the walk. There were runners doing 5k and 10k and then walkers doing 5k. There were not a lot of children doing the walk - I guess their parents realized that was a long way. But I knew I couldn't leave C at the kids activities without us and I wanted our family to do this. Something inside me just couldn't let it go. Like it's some cheesy metaphor for this life we have been living - together we can accomplish anything. For some reason I really needed this and somehow A understood this. We started off at the back of the pack - right away C was complaining and saying he wasn't going to do it (even as we walked the trail into the forest part of the conservation area). The poor safety patrol guys on bikes that were trying to stick to the back of the pack couldn't actually ride their bikes we were going so slow. At approximately half way into the first km C balked and stopped walking. I told J and A to go on ahead and they did. There wasn't a soul behind us other than random people walking their dogs. C stood his ground as I slowly kept walking, not giving him the audience he so wanted. I could hear some not so choice language and could only hope he would eventually move and not enter a full on rage. I tried to keep my anxiety down. So what if he threw a fit - there was no one around to get hurt, no where to run (except the finish line) and I had my Blackberry if I needed help.

Eventually, with no real explanation as to why, C began moving again and he caught up to me. Quickly he became distracted by a friends little kids who no longer wanted to ride in the stroller so they had fallen behind as a family. C began to encourage the kids and this distracted him. Then we reached the 1km marker and he was ready to bolt - to have walked so far but only be at 1km was so discouraging for him. Then somebody mentioned door prizes at the finishing line and someone else told him that he could have as much water as he wanted from the water stations and that he could just throw his cup down on the ground as he walked. So we walked and dumped water on his head, carrying as many cups as we could, laughing at being able to - for once in his life - litter. Soon it was just he and I, climbing hills slowly but surely. When he began to falter I encouraged him to lean on me - let my energy help him. He grasped my shoulder and leaned heavily, holding onto my elbow with his other hand. Suddenly around the 3km I didn't even feel tired. I felt rejuvenated, energized. We could do this. We had lived through the past 6 months, we could do anything.

And we did, crossing the finish line in one hour and four minutes.

Next year we plan to do it in 50 minutes. Just don't tell C yet.

Friday, August 06, 2010

I am supposed to be doing my hair (forget the makeup - its too hot) and heading out the door to drive 2 hours where my son is. I have been doing this drive at least twice a week (except when A is able to go but he works so I have taken this on) to bring our 11 year old son home on weekends while he is in a residential treatment centre. It is an awesome unit that he is on at a treatment centre that I wholeheartedly endorse. We have been receiving services from this place since C was 7 years old.

Usually I find a way to enjoy my drive - books on CD to listen to, music I LOVE on my MP3 player plugged into my van and at top volume, sometimes I just drive and think - relishing in the "me" time. But this is all losing its allure. I am tired. I am anxious to start a new chapter in our lives. I am also terrified beyond belief.

Our son is scheduled to be discharged August 13th.

I am not terrified of him. He has done wonderfully while away. We have watched him from afar regain his self esteem, begin to settle, blossom back in to the boy we know him to be. He has worked hard and some days have been harder than others. But he deserves so much to be home as soon as possible. No I am not terrified of him, I am terrified FOR him. And for me.

There - I said it. I am sooooo scared that after he comes home things will begin to fall apart. That he and I will spiral into that horrible horrible place that we were just a few months ago. I have good reason to fear this - we experienced it in April of this year after he went to residential on a crisis bed for a month. By the end of the month everyone on his treatment team was singing about how well he was doing and they couldn't believe how much he had improved. I was so happy to hear that. I had wanted so much to believe that what he had experienced was some sort of "blip" that would never again be repeated. (No one told me that - I had just wanted to believe it).

1 week after he came home he began raging. He began getting these "big ideas" and wanting, no NEEDING, to do strange things at all hours of the day. He slipped out of our reality and into his own. He started running from school again and he was only there for an hour. He began to speak of wanting to harm himself and he couldn't sit still and do anything. He was a whirling dervish and I went along for the ride. The more out of control he got, the more desperate and out of control we got, which then fueled his anxiety as he sensed we were no longer in control. It became a huge, horrible mess.

This time, the team, feel we have a better transition plan in place. I'm not so sure. I'm not convinced and it doesn't feel right (the place he is now FELT RIGHT no matter how hard it was to leave him there). Somehow I just don't get the same vibe from our local treatment centre he's scheduled to attend every weekday once he comes home. I try to tell myself to give them a chance and the truth is we have no other option at this time.

But today I procrastinate leaving and driving the two hours because today I meet with the doctors following an email I sent to our case manager. I wasn't upset but I wasn't happy. The team decided I obviously need more of my questions answered prior to a big discharge planning meeting we are having on Monday. So they cleared their schedules for this afternoon and I got the call yesterday offering for them to meet with me prior to my picking up C today. Its what I wanted and yet now I find myself stressing and trying to make sense of the jumbled thoughts and emotions i have going on so that I can ask clear and direct questions during our meeting.

As I am driving I will repeat this mantra ""I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and Doggone It - I can ask the right questions!" Well, that and "coffee, must have coffee"

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Sensory Stuff and a great Give-A-Way

There is so much going on around our house and in our family. Throughout each day I compile in my mind all the Blog posts I want to do - but I never get to them. Even when I have a few minutes to sit down at the computer it all seems too much to make sense of it all let alone try to make a post. I do think I will be able to carve out time next week when J is at an all day Summer Camp and C is still not back home yet (such a long long story and I promise I will tell it - I am just mindful that much of the story is his to tell, not mine).

In the meantime, Natalie at My Yellow Apple blogged about this great contest and I wanted to let anyone who might be reading about it.When I jumped over to Soft to check out their giveaway I was amazed by all that I saw. How had I not heard of this company before??? How many hours had I agonized over trying to find C clothes and other accessories to fit his needs? I was able to find things here and there, like some VERY EXPENSIVE polyester clothing kids wear under their clothes when playing hockey etc (I later found it in the U.S. at Target for a 1/4 of the price but the damage to my bank account was already done). In his early years waistbands on pants were an issue and we were fortunate enough that many stores carried adjustable waist and what we termed in our house "Easy pants" - the pants that have a little clasp instead of a button (which was Fine motor issues rather than sensory). But then he got bigger and it was harder to find "easy pants" and he began to be bothered more by the texture of the clothes. He really loved the make of Mexx pants, they are soooo soft, but unless on sale they are expensive. For the last year he has been mainly wearing jogging pants - I HATE them. I want him to wear some nicer looking pants - and I usually just let my kids where what they want. I had hoped to order from this company but it looks like they stop one size lower in pants than what C wears. Sigh. But thats okay because they still have lots to offer our family and I'll keep you posted about how we like them. Of course I am also entering the Soft clothing contest in hopes of winning the giveaway. A mom always needs to have dreams!

You can enter too. Click on the company name in my post above or follow this link

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Better than Christmas . . .

The bags are packed. A is loading up the van. I wander around the house with my list, trying to make sure we haven't forgotten anything. Baths are being had and clothes will get laid out to aid in our early morning rising and departure. The air in our home is electric, the excitement is palpable.

It's the eve before we leave for what could possibly be heaven on earth for C. Two weeks of unadulterated fun and freedom at Camp Winston. C told me earlier today that if given a choice between what was more exciting, Christmas Eve or the night before Camp he lit up and said "Camp of course, every time".

At Camp he is himself. He is embraced and loved and celebrated for his uniqueness. He is gently challenged to try new things and to try to see other people's views in things. But in all he is a boy at camp. A wonderful, curious, brave soul who is loved wholly and completely.

It has been the hardest year for all of us and I am not sure who in this house is the most excited about Camp tomorrow. It will be hard to let him go and yet as we drive away I know I will have a calm in my heart that it hasn't felt in a very long time.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Recently I sat with a Social worker who is fairly new to our family but who, thankfully, is not new to the world of adoption and attachment issues (its HIS specialty!) and who also "gets" kids like our C. The whirling dervish little guy, the toll it takes on our family and yet the depth of our love and devotion to him. This man, lets call him Dave, had commented before on my resiliency and we were talking about the level of parenting it takes for a kid like C. I told him that over the years I have very much felt I was in "in the trenches" in a parenting war. I even envision myself decked out in full army fatigues and gear. Some of this might have to do with C's obsession with the military (he wants to be a US Navy Seal when he grows up, despite the fact that we are Canadian) because I actually do not like anything to do with warfare. But that is how it has felt over the years - waging small and large battles. Winning some, losing some. Winning some but with HUGE costs that make you wonder afterward if it was worth it.

Usually I feel like I am waging the war on my own, defending the precious soul that is my son. Knowing that I have A in the background to swoop in with heavy guns only when absolutely necessary - afterall, someone in this family has to stay sane, go to work and take care of the mundane but necessary life things like banking and car repairs. Occasionally I get reinforcements in my war. Usually however they are new recruits without any fire power and it is still up to me to coordinate and lead and in the end to throw myself on the hand grenade should it come close to my boy. And man has it come close way too many times to count.

Eight years later I am tired and battered and worn out. Months ago C's mental health issues really ramped up and I began waving the white flag. Still the war waged around us. Seemed no one knew what the white flag was or perhaps I was waving it wrong but it went unacknowledged. I thought people not seeing the white flag was the worst, it wasn't. Even worse was when people finally began to see it for what it was but still failed to do anything about it. After all, I'm sure they thought, this was the infamous Military Mom who excels in Extreme Parenting - she'll get back up on her horse in a couple of days. I called for reinforcements, they didn't come. Finally I beat down doors and finally some people listened. They have closed ranks around C and they are keeping him safe and helping us all sort things through.

Through all this, this cease fire of sorts - I am trying to find myself again. I am trying to leave the military gear by the back door. I am trying to figure out how to go forward in a kinder, gentler way for all of us. I cannot keep up this level of intensity - it is just not possible. As I have begun to over function less it is wonderful to see family and friends start to step up with offers and real actions to help. We are trying to redefine what our family is and how it will work. It is all very hard work but I am so proud of all of us.

I am thankful for the ceasefire.

I think sometimes the enemy I waged war against the most during the eight year campaign was myself.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Markers, Poptarts and Meatloaf - a Modern Love Story

In the Fall of 1992 I headed off to University all wide eyed and innocent and too young to drink. A few months later I turned 19 and through my much older room mates brother I met a man who I thought was a jerk with a weird last name. I won't get into too much of the details as to why I thought he was a jerk but I will say that it was being fuelled by tales told by my room mate, who had her own version of reality that in the end we all realized was DRASTICALLY different than everyone elses.

Despite the fact that my room mate kept telling me what a creep, weirdo and jerk this "guy with the weird last name" was, she seemed to be actively encouraging him to hang around our totally illegal dungeon basement apartment. She had a boyfriend (living in the U.S.) and I was naive enough to wonder why he would hang around someone who wasn't "available". After a while she seemed to lose interest in "guy with the weird last name" but he still hung around on occassion and he began to joke around with me as I sat, cross legged in my chair, hair high in a pony tail a top my head, eagerly highlighting practically every line in my textbook as I crammed for exams. He laughed and mocked my study habits and note taking. He encouraged me to "relax" and do the "bare minimum". Somewhere along the line I was mortified when he walked in to find me writing a moronically childish letter to a friend as I was using a different coloured marker for every letter of every word (what - I was bored!). I tried to act all nonchalant and flirty and deflect my embarrassment and somehow that turned into me offering to write on him with the markers. Because somehow that's a turn on right???? Don't ask, I don't know - I was trying to be something other than the uncomfortable 19 year old inexperienced book worm that I was. Thankfully he declined on that occasion and my markers remained capped.

A few weeks went by and we hadn't seen "guy with the weird last name" around. I asked my room mate and she acted indifferent. A few days later she walked by my room and threw a paper at me, "Here's his name and address if you want to get in touch with him". I carried that paper around a few days. What if he didn't even know who I was? I thought about calling him but I didn't have the nerve. So I did what I did best I wrote him a letter and signed it "marker fetish woman". Yes, I was that bad and that corny. And he answered. He wrote me first and I wrote back and then he called me and we talked for hours. Soon we arranged to meet. Our first "date" was in the middle of the day. I have no recollection how that came to be. We met up in a shopping mall. I had a car, he didn't. We hopped in my car and as we drove to our first destination he nonchalantly opened my glove box. There was nothing in there but a box of chocolate Pop Tarts. I think he knew he loved me then. What person drives around with pop tarts in their glove box? That first date lasted 26 hours (NO it's not what you think - I was a good girl and he was a perfect gentlemen and he was having trouble getting over the fact that I was only 19 and he was GASP 25).

Within 4 months though he had proposed and I said yes and we moved in together and then moved 4 hours away so he could go to grad school. We planned our wedding and we both went to school and I worked full time as well. And then in 1995 I graduated with my Bachelors degree in Psychology and then on June 10, 1995 I married my best friend. I was only 21 years old. I had no concept of what forever meant. But that's okay because it was and still is the best decision I ever made. The days leading up to our big day were stressful and not without problems (mix ups at the hotel, my mother accidentally overdosing on her medication and needing to go to the hospital during our rehearsal - THANKS PAM for staying with my mom!!!!)None of it mattered in the end. The day was beautiful. It didn't rain like they predicted. We got wonderful pictures, the ceremony was great (okay a little long but I did give it some comical moments including putting the ring on A's wrong hand). Later that night at the reception, surrounded by our friends and family in the dining hall A and I spontaneously decided to go up to our room and change into shorts and we came back down and the DJ played Meatloafs Paradise By the Dashboard Light and suddenly we were surrounded by a group of friends and family, A and I singing the words to each other as though we had rehearsed it. We were having such a great time that guests from the wedding next door crashed our wedding. That moment plays in my head now 15 years later and it makes me smile so hard my face hurts.

We were 21 and 27, our whole lives ahead of us. Lots of wonder, lots of heartache ahead. We would face it together and that was all that mattered then and that is all that matters now. Well that and that I no longer think he has a weird last name.

15 wonderful years. I love you sweetie. Thanks for taking a chance on the young girl with the markers and the Pop Tarts.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

State of Emergency

On Saturday I drove J out to National Park an hour or so from our home for his first ever Beaver Camp Out for the end of year Troop Celebration. It had taken some convincing to get him to the point where he was comfortable with staying overnight and even when I drove away that morning I knew there was a chance I might get a late night call to come get him, and that would have been ok.

But that call never came.

During the night I vaguely recall hearing some loud thunder. In the early morning A and I quietly conversed in bed, me hoping out loud that J slept through the storm. I was thankful that the Beavers and Cubs of the Scouting troop were in the Bunk Houses rather than tents. I got up and turned on the radio enjoying the easygoing morning where C slept in while I made pancakes for everyone before I had to get ready for the long drive to go pick up J.

I had a few minutes before I had to jump in the shower so I sat down to the computer to check blogs and my local mom forum. And I saw it - State of Emergency Declared in the town neighbouring the Provincial Park. I swear all the air was sucked out of the room I was in. I quickly clicked on the online local paper and there were pictures of mass destruction from the early morning storm that had hit the town. Roads were closed. Power was down. I walked upstairs to where A was. I could barely breath as I tried to tell him the news. I tried to call the Provincial Park. No answer. I tried to call the Leaders cell numbers, no answer.

We have very good friends, lets call them Honey and Jake, who live out in that area and though it was still early I called them. Luckily they had power and their phones were working. She answered and told me Jake was up and already down by the water, the hardest hit area. I told her where J was and listened as the air also left her lungs and Honey worked to not panic as well. J is the son Honey and Jake never had and I whole heartedly share him with them (I will tell you more of their story another time). I asked Honey to call Jake and ask him to see if he could get to J and bring him to their house. All I could think of was to make sure my boy was safe and I wasn't even sure I would be able to get to the park with all the road closures. Honey agreed they would try and I proceeded to get ready to get in my van to at least try to get to their house to be that much closer to J.

As I threw on my clothes all I could do was pray that my boy was first and foremost unhurt and that second he was not terrified. It was horrible knowing I was so far away and not able to get to him. I bolted out the front door, leaving A and a sleeping C behind and was just leaping into the van when A came running out the front door - phone in hand saying it was Honey on the phone. She wanted me to know that Jake had been able to reach the park and had spoken with the Park Supervisor. Everyone was perfectly fine.

He could not get J though. There were trees and powerlines down. They were working hard to clear it and would hopefully have the path cleared by the time the parents would get there for 11 a.m. There was nothing to do but sit and wait a little while longer. I thanked Honey, hung up, and fell onto the couch. We agreed we would wait a while longer then head out as a family as it might take longer to make it around all the detours and blockades and I didn't think I had the strength after that turmoil to do it myself.

When we got to the park shortly before 11 we had to wait and we chatted with the Park Staff. The Scout Troop had been the only overnight guests in the park but thankfully the leaders had figured out around 2:15 a.m. that the weather had decidedly taken a turn for the worst and got all the kids that were in tents out and into the mess hall. It was later determined that a Tornado hit the neighbouring town around 2:45 a.m. The Beavers of the group slept through the ENTIRE event. When they woke up in the morning all they cared about was that they couldn't turn on the lights. The leaders themselves didn't even know the extent of the damage in the town or that a natural disaster or state of emergency had been declared. The crews at the park had to work from the early morning hours right up to our arrival at 11 a.m. just to clear a path so we could go in and retrieve our children. While the crews worked our kids ate breakfast and played soccer. While the parents were scared out of their wits with worry the kids were laughing and playing. And I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. I am so thankful to those volunteer leaders for keeping their calm and for being prepared.

Needless to say - J received a lot of hugs that day and the days since then. Yesterday I picked him up early from school and we just went and did fun stuff. Hanging out just the two of us as I try not to think too much about "what if . . ." but trying instead to to just be thankful for what is.

Loading image

Click anywhere to cancel

Image unavailable