Sunday, May 31, 2009

I've got it!

I've finally figured out what to get Sean for his birthday. The only thing is, it's not for this birthday, it will be for his 40th.

We took up camping a few years ago. I'm all for the outdoors, I love to hike, I can handle bugs (to a point) and nothing is better than marshmallows and wienies roasting on a fire with a nice cold beer and crickets in the background. So we bought a ten man, two room tent. We bought the Coleman stove, lanterns, air mattresses, coolers, hatchets - all the necessities to live in the woods for a few days. The kids even enjoyed it.
The thing I can't do is sleep on those bloody air mattresses. Never in the history of time has there every been anything more uncomfortable. I never sleep a wink and the next morning I'm sore as hell.
Last year we decided not to camp. Connor was too young and we just knew it would a nightmare so instead we went to Sherkston Shores for a week. It's a trailer park on Lake Erie. Now that to me is roughing it the right way. There is a roof, beds, a stove, a fridge and a TV. Plus the lakes, the fire pit and best of all, activities for the kids.
We loved it so much we've already booked and paid for our trip there this year.
Now I'm a realist and I know that a big trailer is not in our budget and likely never will be but a pop up...now that we can do. Emily and I had been talking about the idea of buying one for Sean for his 40th. So this past week there has been a trailer sale of sorts in the mall parking lot. We went over today, just for shiggles and Sean fell in love. He's got the one he wants all picked out. He then said, very casually, "Hmm, now there would be a great 40th birthday gift" Little does he know!!
But now that I know exactly what he wants and what he thinks a reasonable price is I've got 3 years to save.

Now I've got to get down the figuring out what to get him for his birthday this year. Only 19 days left.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I'm out numbered.

It doesn't take a math whiz to figure that out. 3 kids. 1 me. I decided to take the kids to the zoo this morning. It's been crappy weather all week, they've been stuck inside for most if it so now that the sun is out, why not.
It's not that I haven't done the zoo before with all three by myself, we did it all last year. I've done it myself with 8 kids in tow. No problem. The difference then was that Connor was content to sit in the stroller and Mary wasn't going through her impatient, I'm the center of the universe phase.

For years I quietly passed judgement on those parents who has their toddlers on leashes. How awful!! I mean who's the parent here. I said you need to stay in the stroller and if you are going to walk you will hold my hand. The joke is, I said it after I had kids. I never in a million years would have even considered the notion of putting Emily or Mary into one of those harness things. But then, they weren't Connor.
I've never known a kid who loves the outdoors as much as he does. He wasn't to touch everything, he wants to see everything and he sure as heck doesn't want to hold my hand when he's doing it. The problem then arises that I have two other kids who want to touch and see what they want, this does not include following Connor around and oh, let's not forget the stroller that is carrying the money, car keys, wallet and camera.
It's been raining for the past few days so there are a lot of puddles. I'm not opposed to puddles and splashing. We've often brought the kids out for that expressed purpose. But Connor managed to find the puddles that were riddled with goose poop (or was it peacock poop....either way, ew!) So tantrum 1 was me taking him out of the puddle and putting him in the stroller until we could get away from that area.
Tantrum 2 was all about not being able to touch the stingrays (which I would have otherwise allowed but there is an allergen alert sign posted about crustaceans and Connor is restricted)
Those two tantrums were the screaming, going stiff so I couldn't get him into the stroller and buckled in type of tantrums. They lasted until I could buckle him in and distract him with food or drink.
Tantrum 3 was the worst though. Though, it was more fear than anything. We went on the zoomobile. It's a 30 minute ride around the zoo. Last year he loved it. He'd fall asleep within a few minutes. Not this time. He screamed holy murder. The problem was that, as usual, we left the stroller at the main stop because our intent was to ride it all the way around. Getting off and walking all the way back was not really high on my list of appealing options.
Now, maybe this is just me but I see or hear a young kid like him crying and I feel bad for him. I want to hug him and hold him and soothe him. I know not everyone is like me and I get that some people just get irritated by kids crying. So not more than a minute into the ride the man sitting in front of me shot me a dirty look. Then he stuck his fingers in his ears and gave his wife a look (the kind of look that says "Some people!!") All I can say is that he's lucky I was occupied with trying to settle Connor because otherwise I would have had some carefully selected words for him about how wonderful it must be to live in a world where children don't cry and when they do you can wave a magic wand and make them stop. His luck (or perhaps, his choice) he got off at the first stop so he was spared my barrage (and Connors fit)
I felt awful for the poor little guy but the ironic part is that the kid who wanted nothing to do with his stroller earlier stopped crying the minute we got back to it.
And for all the animals we saw, the highlight of the trip for Connor was seeing the maintenance truck drive by on the service road.

So the lessons I've learned today. 1 me taking 3 thems to the zoo is doable....as long as the next time I go to WalMart I need to get me one of those stuffed animal, backpack leash thingies....
and stay off of the zoomobile.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

They're here!

I'm a bit relieved. The books are here (I take back all the bad things I said about the femailman)

I ordered this and this.

The first one is a workbook, lots of colouring and such to help them work through their feelings and understand that everything they feel is okay. I think this will be great for Emily. She's like me in that writing it down is so much easier than saying it out loud (hence the blog)
The only thing I'm a little disappointed about is that the book covers happy endings (Going into remission or being cured and the fear of your love one relapsing) It does not cover the ending we'll have. I guess I'll need to find more books.

The second one is fantastic! It covers everything from what cancer is to how everyone may feel (patient included) and it even deals with death and it's all in language that Mary will be able to understand and Emily won't feel like she's being talked down to.

Now the problem will be getting through reading the story without crying. I can't even read Robert Munsch's Love You Forever without crying. But I think these books will be perfect for getting the discussion going again so that they really understand.

Well shit!

Last night I overheard bits and pieces of a conversation between Emily and Mary. It went like this.

Mary - "So you mean, like what Papa has?"
Couldn't hear Emily's answer
Mary - "So is he like going to die or something?"
Emily - "No, (something I couldn't make out) he's all better"
Mary - "Oh good, 'cause if he wasn't I'd be crying all over the place"

So gist of this is that they think that because he's home now, he's better. Our fault in telling them that A: he wasn't coming home (which was what we were told initially) and B: not clarifying that he would die from this.
So we get the distinct privilege of ruining another weekend of theirs by explaining to them that yes, Papa is home, yes he sounds and looks perfectly healthy but he's still incredibly sick and will die soon.

And where the hell are my books????!!!! 2-3 business days my ass!
Of course, our femaleman (we have a female letter carrier - we call her the fe-mailman) didn't show up yesterday. This is par for the course for her. We would sometimes go three or four days with no mail (in a house with four adults - we get mail every. single. day.) and then we'd get a big pile of mail in our mailbox.
So I finally emailed Canada Post and complained about it. They spoke with our letter carrier who, of course, insisted nothing was out of the ordinary. But by some miracle we've had mail ever single day since then. (insert an eye roll here)
But I'm still waiting on the books I ordered for the girls. I'm sure they'd be helpful in them understanding exactly what is going on.

This whole situation just sucks.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Yay!

My dad came home last night. The kids were happy to see him. I was happy to see him. Apparently he couldn't get out of the hospital fast enough.
So now that he's home we can relax a bit and enjoy our time with him. We're going to have a big bbq on Father's Day since it will be our last with him. I've already decided what the kids will give him. I'm going to get one of those 'make you own garden stepping stones' kits and they're going to make a stone that says Papa's Pond. And we'll put it right next to (d'uh) the pond.

While I'm more relaxed about him being home I'm also incredibly nervous with the daycare. We've got a lot of germs coming in and I've ramped up my sick policy so that the kids can't come if they even have a cold but I also know from years of experience at this that some parents will try to slide under that policy. I'm sure at some point I will have a child here who shouldn't be because they are sick. And being emotional about this, I'm not very flexible. This is one of those cases that some of my daycare friends would joke about because the 'termination queen' would strike again. I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt but I'm a little jaded. So all I can do is hope for the best that all my new families really understand the gravity of the situation.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Tough Questions

Emily asked me the other day if Papa had quit smoking. Wow. I don't even know how to address that.
She's learned from us and from school what the dangers of smoking are. She doesn't remember when I smoked, I quit 5 years ago this month. But she does know that I worked hard to quit so I would be healthy for her and Mary (and Connor)

So when she asked me it took me by surprise. I told her right out that he hadn't. I can't lie, she will at some point see him smoke. The explaining why is the tough part. Explaining addiction to a 9 year old is no simple task. Or explaining that he certainly can't do any more damage to his lungs. I ended up saying that yes he did still smoke and it was just too difficult to explain why in a way she'd understand.
And part of me is terrified that she'll be angry at him for smoking (past and present) Because those are not the feelings I want her to have about him at the end.

I wish those books I ordered would come soon.

We've been given a bit of home that my dad will be able to come home after his radiation treatments are done. (later this week I think) I'm nervous about it. I'm nervous because I'm terrified he's going to fall down the stairs (I would be so much more at ease if he'd just live upstairs but I don't think he will) I'm also nervous about his health. Obviously with the two school aged kids, Sean working in germ central and the daycare there are a lot of random illnesses coming into our house. I can't do anything about the girls. School is still in for another month. Sean washes like a madman when he gets home from work. I've changed my daycare sick policy for the time being, not even allowing kids to come with a common cold, but I still worry.
But I also know that being home will do so much for his spirit and mental well being, as well as ours.


Now in a different direction. I was chatting with a friend about my blog (well, emailing one of my online friends) and had mentioned that while this blog has only been around since January that this is in fact my 7th blog. (Nancy, remember some of the others??!! LOL) I seem to be a bit of a serial blogger. I start them and within a month or so I get bored and stop. And then a few months later want to start again but rather than pick up where I left off I delete the old blog and start a new one. I kind of regret deleting them, I've discovered (especially around the year from hell) that I had a lot of foresight in my life that I didn't realize until hindsight set in (if that makes any sense at all) I would like now to go back and see my state of mind and life back then. But, you know how it goes, done bun can't be undone. I think I realized though, that despite the blog written in the year from hell (the only one that lasted more than 4 or 5 posts) I never really had anything relevant to say. How sad is that?! I suppose a lot of it was random nothingness trying to disguise itself as meaningful (which this may be as well, I guess we'll see in a year or so) but the feeling is different this time. I told my friend I was too lazy to put paper to pen when I can type much faster. So the therapy of journaling has turned into my blog.
Here's the catch. I have readers now. In the past I think besides Nancy no one has read my blogs. Now I have readers because I found it easier to update my dad's progress through the blog than to email individuals and clog my message boards with OT posts. And these readers all come from different areas of my life. I have family. I also have friends both in person ones and my online ones. And I think this is what keeps me honest. In the past I'd write but wouldn't pay much attention because I knew only Nancy read it and we'd get a chuckle. But it's different, kind of liberating.

Anyhow. I think this will be the last of the serial blogs....this ones a keeper. I'm finding it therapeutic. It relaxes me and prepares me for the day because I get all this off my chest so that I can focus on the little people and the future, rather than dwelling on what I can't change.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

On a lighter note

I am so freakin' proud of myself.

I'm trying so hard to be good with my money. We managed to work ourselves out of debt completely a couple of years ago. Only the mortgage. Of course, nothing good lasts forever and slowly but surely debt has crept back in. Nothing unmanageable (certainly not of the calibre we were at before) but it's there none the less. I much preferred not having any debt.
Anyhow we've got the new windows and doors now and while we technically don't have to pay for them until March of next year, I'm not all the interested in the interest that will be accrued from now until then. So I'm trying to pay as much of that off as I can before March. Oh, and there is the small matter of the Visa balance. Again, not much but it's not $0 either.

So in my effort to be good I've taken tips from Gail Vaz-Oxlade and put myself on a strict budget. We've already got plenty of money going into retirement savings and the kids education funds. So what's left is paying down our debt and day to day living.
The problem is that both mine and Sean's income fluctuates. Sean's can be varied within a $200 a week range. Mine is the same each week but being self employed, all it takes is for one of my clients to leave and my income changes drastically. On the upside, filling a spot gives me a bigger safety net.

So we've decided that from this point on it's cash only. No more paying with the bank card and no more credit card. Cash only.

So this morning I took my pathetic little $100 to the grocery store. Before I go any further I should mention I am a grocery snob. You know how some people will only by brand name clothes, $500 shoes, $800 bags....well don't you try and sell me your crappy no name brand Ketchup. It's Heinz or nothing (haha - maybe I should send that to them for their next ad campaign....A woman on screen, fake boobs, botoxed face, tanned, hair extensions...the whole package..."I love my Manolo Blahnik shoes, my Coach bag and my Tiffany bracelets...and when it comes to my ketchup, it's Heinz or nothing!")
I have to shop for my family of five plus 4 daycare kids. I try to avoid prepacked foods, not healthy and more expensive. Sean and I are also trying to eat a little more sensibly and lets face it, produce ain't cheap. So that said, it's not unheard of for me to drop upwards of $200 a week on groceries. And now here I am strict budget of half that.

Armed with my list, my cell phone calculator and three
not-so-impressed-to-be-grocery-shopping-at-8 am-on-a-Saturday kids I faced my challenge.
Oh, I also broke the cardinal rule of food shopping. I hadn't had breakfast and was starving!
Now I'll openly admit that some items didn't get sacrificed. I bought the generic bread (yuck) but I bought the real Apple Cinnamon Cheerios. I bought what we commonly refer to around here as "bologna burgers" (crappy, 3 oz frozen hamburger patties) but squeezed in a bag of tortilla chips (we needed at least one treat) The girls wanted Hamburger Helper (oddly enough a favorite of theirs lately) and had to choose between the chips or the hamburger helper.....guess which one won.
And when it was all said and done I got out of there with food for the family and daycare for the entire week, plus a treat, paid in full with cash....and I have $11 to spare!!

Oh, and since we were at WalMart anyway and I had two McDonalds gift cards in my purse with a few bucks each left on them (leftover Christmas gifts for the kids) we each got a hash brown to reward our frugalness. (is that even a word?!)

I'm pretty proud of my first ever effort at list/calculator/cash shopping trip. I'm thinking I could save a small fortune like this. And by God I could get those windows paid off before March if I really, really try.

As for the $11, 3/4 will go to beer (but it will be the crappy value brand) and the rest will go to a movie for Em's sleepover tonight.

And come Monday morning it's a whole new week with a whole new budget!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ups and Downs

Yesterday was a day of ups and downs. I dropped my mom off at the hospital yesterday morning. She'd finally come home to sleep and it did her some good. But not long after she called very upset telling me not to bring the girls that evening because my Dad was not doing well. He didn't know why he was in the hospital. Things didn't look or sound good and I sent my brother up to sit with my mom and comfort her. (my brother really is the rock of the family - as strong as we are all trying to be he really is the one person who never wavers. I guess that comes with the territory, being cop he sees all sorts of misery)
But then by lunch she called and said that my dad was much better. They finally got him a room and have figured out his meds to keep the pain at a minimum but not so stoned he doesn't know up from down.

So I brought the girls and Connor to see him last night. I know the girls were scared when they got there. They didn't know what to expect. Connor had a small fit in the elevator (got Mommy's fears I guess) and when we got off on the oncology floor he was screaming so loud I was afraid to go any further for fear of disturbing the patients. Note to self: bring lovey, a drink of milk and maybe even a soother when we visit on Sunday.
I couldn't have asked for a better visit. The girls were so happy to see Papa and Connor was over the moon. He kept saying "Hi Papa!" and hugging him. My dad seemed well and that was great. I think he was pretty happy to see them too. They've already made all kinds of pictures to decorate his walls with.

I don't hold any false hope. I know that despite how good he seemed yesterday that nothing is better than it was the day before but at least the kids were able to see him in a good state, especially right after being told, and at the very least will be able to make a few more good memories with him. I don't think they quite get it yet that Papa will not live very much longer. One of the daycare kids mentioned to Mary this morning that Papa was going to die and Mary said "No he's not, the Dr's are taking very good care of him. They give him needles" The time will come when we'll have to sit with Mary and explain to her that yes, Papa is going to die, but for now I'd rather she get used to Papa being sick and living at the hospital.
My dad gave them both another Webkinz yesterday too. Mary took hers to school today so that if she missed Papa she'd have it to hug.

One of my wonderful online friends gave me a website to look at with books and resources for grieving children. I found a few books that are perfect for our situation and ordered them yesterday. Hopefully they'll be here by Monday. Emily has already told me she wants to join the Rainbows group next fall at school.
We'll get through this - unfortunately millions of families do.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Where to go from here

We told the girls yesterday about Papa. It went pretty well exactly how I thought it would. They cried, I cried and 10 minutes later they were giggling at Connor spitting at them.
Every now and then through the day Mary would ask me if I was sad or she'd tell me she missed him.
It occurred to me that while they knew he was sick and probably not coming home that they might have understood it as Papa will be living at the hospital so over dinner I had made a comment about when Papa goes to Heaven. No reaction but at least it was processed.
Mary and Emily both wanted some extra hugs last night and decided that if they were missing Papa they would hug the Webkinz he gave them when he came home from the hospital last week.
They are both excited about visiting him tonight too (provided he finally has a room)
I, however, am very nervous about it.
The mass on his brain and swelling is causing him a lot of confusion. I'm hoping that the steroids have already kicked in and that the swelling is reduced enough that some of the confusion is gone. I don't want the girls being afraid if Papa isn't making sense.
I was also disappointed to find out that the program I wanted to get the girls into, one that was meant for kids their age who have close family members with cancer, has already started it's 8 week cycle. It rotates with another group meant for kids who've lost a loved one to cancer so the chances of them getting into the group I wanted them in before September is slim. And by then I'm probably just going to get them into the Rainbows group through school.

I've learned a lot more than I ever wanted to know about cancer. Like Denise pointed out to me, it's good to know as much as you can so that when the Dr's are talking you know what they are saying without having to stop and ask for things in layman's terms. I was fortunate (?) enough to be there yesterday when one of the palliative care Dr's came to see my Dad yesterday. In talking with her my Dad questioned why, with all the medical care he's been under for the past four years for his diabetes, heart, etc, was nothing ever detected. It turns out that it's all about the kind of cancer he has. It probably wasn't there as recently as 6 months ago. It's that aggressive. Honestly, it doesn't give me much hope for the future and a desire to live each day to the fullest because in just a few short months your whole life can fall apart.

I've got the unfortunate advantage of having a lot of family and friends who've walked this road before me. Our family has a lot of support and that is priceless. I've also got my sanctuary, my escape from the real world. I can get on this computer and play on Facebook or get in heated debates about Jon and Kate Plus 8 on Fertility Friend (heehee) and for that time I can block the world out and pretend that everything is as it always was. I can be normal and I am so glad for that because if it weren't for that little slice of normalcy I don't know how I'd manage to be strong enough to walk this road with my family.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I have so much to say but saying it will likely spill out randomly.

I've never been on to talk openly about my feelings. In my father's last days I'd like to tell him how much I love him and what a great father he's been. And I don't think I'll be able to get through it coherently.

I would like my daughters to have memories forever of their Papa. My own grandfather died when I was 12 and I don't remember very much about him. I guess the fact that my dad lives with us will be better for my kids having memories.

I wish I could age Connor so that he too will have memories of his Papa. His very first word was Papa (I know that was a huge source of pride for my dad)

I'd like to know how it's fair that someone who's already taken enough shit in his life has to have it end like this?

"What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger." I'd rather stay weak.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Every now and then I find myself getting into a rut with work. I feel like I've done the same activities to death and sometimes I worry about getting stale. Especially with one of the kids because she's been in my care for the better part of 5 years. I worry that she'll get bored or won't learn anything new because I've quite literally used up all my resources on her and am constantly trying to find something new and interesting to do with her. It became a little more difficult last month when one of the other kids left the daycare and now this little girl (I'll call her Ham....when she was a toddler and I'd point the camera at her and Mary Jo and say "say cheese" Mary would always shout "cheese" and the other little one would shout "Ham" I took to calling them Ham and Cheese) is all alone in the afternoon with me and two toddlers. So if I'm busy with one of the little ones, she's left to her defenses. Having said that, spending 5 of her 6 years here with me, she's certainly comfortable enough here to call this place a second home and can find a million and one things to do while I'm busy with the babies.

I'm getting off track here. So I thought since the nice weather was here that I'd have bike day. Something to spice up things for the older kids. I'd have the older kids all bring their bikes to daycare, we'd ride to and from school. It went over great, they were excited. Mary and Ham got on their bikes and away we went. (of course, Emily doesn't have a bike, doesn't want a bike and hates bike riding) Much to my relief, Ham still has her training wheels. So while I was a little worried that Mary still does and that she'd get picked on I thought that maybe there would be strength in numbers.
No such luck.
My baby wasn't even in the school yard and some little snot nose made fun of her for having training wheels which made my sensitive child burst into tears.
I'm not normally the 'get involved in school yard battles' kind of mom. My kids have learned how to settle disputes quite well but this just burned me. And it's a darn good thing I wasn't PMSing or I might have torn a strip off of whichever kid was picking on her.

In the end I let her come home at lunch with Ham and spend the day playing, being the 6 year olds that they are and not worrying about having training wheels.
Mary is determined to learn to ride on two wheels now. If she does, great. If not - we just remind her that Daddy didn't learn how to ride a bike until he was 12....so she's got lots of time!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mothers Day

It's hard to write while dodging the obvious because there is a lot I'd like to say. In good time though.

It's Mother's Day. I'm not usually a big fan of this day. Not that there is anything wrong with Mother's Day but I feel about it the same way I do about Valentine's Day. Do we need a whole day set aside to tell our Mothers how much we love and appreciate them? And if we do, what does that say about our relationship with our Mothers? Not much I think.
I tell my Mom everyday that I love her. Of course I have the obvious advantage of living with her so there is more than enough opportunity. I'm sure I don't always show my gratitude for all she has done/does for me (and our family) and I know I'm not always the most pleasant person to live with but all the same, I think she knows.

I certainly don't mind the extra pampering I get today, sleeping in, breakfast, dinner but for me, and especially more so after having battled infertility and loss and becoming virtual friends with so many women who have struggled a lot harder and longer than I have to become mothers and so many who have yet to be blessed with children, I see the bigger picture. Everyday is Mothers Day for me. Everyday that I get to hug my Mom. Everyday that I get to kiss my kids.

I think if anything, this day makes me reflect on those who don't have their moms anymore and those who struggle to become moms and my heart goes out to them and I think about how very lucky I am.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

It's no secret that I am a control freak. I am a type A, it-will-only-get-done-right-if-I-do-it-myself type of person. But at the same time I'm not the kind to attempt a DIY. I would rather someone come in and remodel my bathroom than do it myself. I'd hire painters if it weren't so expensive. And though I'm okay with having others do the manual labour, I want to supervise.

So Thursday morning came. I had the beds pulled out, I had all the curtains off, I had the rooms ready for the window and door guys to come. I waited. I waited. I waited some more. I finally got impatient (see my past post about lateness) and called Home Depot to get an ETA on the window guys. I'm sure in some circles 9:45 is a great time to start a job. When we had the roof done the crew was here at 7 am. That's my kind of worker!
So the guys came. Two of them. Two guys to install two giant bow windows, 5 other smaller windows, a double entryway door and a patio door. Oh, and apparently he was only scheduled to work Thursday and Friday. (the girl who scheduled it told me Thurs., Fri., and Sat.)
So he very casually told me that he'd get one bow window done that day, he'd get the other one done on Friday and another crew would come and do the doors. Um...that still leaves 5 windows. His reply (the poor guy, really in all fairness he didn't know what he was doing by opening this can of worms) I can't really promise anything but anything left over will get done Monday.

It's amazing how I can appear to be nice, calm and rational while I'm going up one side of you and down the other. Once I was done with him I had his assurances that the whole job would be done (correctly, because he'd be damn sorry if he had to come back to correct a problem) by Saturday.

Now, I'm sure it didn't hurt that he was a Newfie. Any Newfoundlander only need be in our house for 5 minutes before they figure out that someone here is a kindred spirit. If it's not the pictures of icebergs and lobster pots is the woodcarving in the shape of Newfoundland over the fireplace.
Well, that sealed the deal for us. The b'y got another crew to come out and those windows (all 7 of them) and the doors (both of them) in (and threw in some extras like insulation where there wasn't any before) and they were out of my house by 6pm on Friday evening.

And I survived.

I'm still trying to clean the dust out of the nooks and crannies but my house is not drafty anymore, it's a hell of a lot quieter and it looks darn pretty too.

God bless the working man!