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A few disjointed thoughts…

20 Jan

On Decisiveness

Michael’s been pretty sick this past week and a half with a doozy of a virus that just won’t quit. It’s left him drained in the evenings, occasionally to comic effect. Yesterday evening when I asked him if he was going to band practice, he gave me this unequivocal answer. “No! Maybe… Yes. I don’t know.” Yes, that actually came out of his mouth.

(He went.) (And played between bouts of coughing.)

On Health

I’ve been wondering for a while if I have hyperthyroidism; there’s some history of it in my family. I have many of the symptoms (irritability, insomnia, fatigue, sweating, increased appetite… and did I mention irritability?) but don’t have many others (intolerance to heat, hair loss, weight loss…). I had a doctor’s checkup yesterday (you know, that yearly thing we ladies need to do) but the doctor was running a bit late so there wasn’t time to discuss signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism, as I hadn’t done any research before going.  The only thing I already knew about hyperthyroidism is that it can make one irritable.  (Theme? What theme?)

Last night, I wondered if I should call the doctor to ask about adding a thyroid function test to the routine bloodwork he was sending me for.  When I looked at the lab requisition, guess what was already checked off? “Suspected thyroid disease, not yet diagnosed.” So, was that just a coincidence, or did the doctor notice something he didn’t mention to me? Either way, kinda freaky.

On Cold Weather

It’s been a deep freeze around here all week, with temps dropping down between -35 and -40 °C. Yesterday, I was driving home along Robert Service Drive, which runs along the Yukon River, in the semi-twilight. The sky was a beautiful dark blue, and one star (actually, I suspect it was a planet…  I don’t know enough about these things) shone brightly directly above the cliffs. The road was perfectly clear, but above the river, the ice fog rose up straight and still. Looking out the driver’s window, my eyes hit that thick fog and gave me the feeling of driving next to a wall, most jarring when one expects to look out across the water. Very eerie and very cool at the same time.

On Improvising Crafts

Halia is on a painting kick.  I have a plastic egg carton that I use to portion out small amounts of tempera paint and she goes to town on a stack of scrap paper.  Last week, I had no yellow left and was running low on red, so we improvised. I had a jar of ModPodge and figured it was a good “white base” with the right consistency. So I filled three egg compartments halfway with ModPodge and let Halia mix drops of food-colouring in. This is great for working those hand muscles AND for a counting exercise. (No more than TWO drops, Halia. No, I said TWO. THAT was four.) Then a Q-Tip in each compartment for mixing, and we had beautiful colours that dry to a glossy finish.  The only problem with it is that the pages DO get sticky. And ModPodge doesn’t easily wash out of clothes once its dried, so smock up the kids!

On Being a Special-Needs Mom

None of us has enough hours in the day. I don’t care how simple your life is, these days we’re very good at filling up every minute with stuff we “have to” do.  Sometimes I have to stop to remind myself that it is literally impossible to do it all. Yes, I would love for the dishes be done every night, the beds made every morning, and the laundry folded and put away every afternoon, but the only way I could accomplish that would be to give up on everything that makes my life exciting.

Now, Jade does have special needs. But she’s loving school so much and growing intellectually by leaps and bounds, and besides that, one day we’ll be able to wean her off the keto diet, so I feel there’s nothing for me to complain about. But sometimes, I have to stop to remind myself that there is extra work involved. I don’t just mean preparing her meals and snacks. On good days, I can make three meals and two snacks for her in about half an hour. When it’s suppertime, assuming I have the ingredients on-hand, I can make her meal in about five minutes.

But there’s other stuff. Like dragging her to audiologist and ENT appointments that start three hours after they’re scheduled.  Doing paperwork to get funding for some respite, or to cover the few medications she’s on (all of them for combatting side-effects of the keto diet). Spending literally seven hours trying to get a prescription for antibiotics to combat an ear infection, because the antibiotics must contain fewer than 100 milligrams of carbohydrate over the course of the day. And then there’s the occupational therapy activities we’re supposed to do every day. Balance, hand strength, core strength… How do you fit that in between the end of school, downtime, and making supper?  Even if it’s just for 15 minutes? I don’t, that’s how.

On Succinctness

Yep, this post isn’t it. Whoops. Didn’t mean to ramble on so. Look, I can’t even stop when I’m talking about being succinct.


Ctrl + Alt + Delete please

3 Jan

Art by Anne Taintor. I totally borrowed this image without permission, so I'm linking to the store where you can buy these awesome sticky notes. (Click image.)

It’s one of those Murphy’s Law days, where it feels like anything that could go wrong, is going wrong.

I had a long list of stops to make today, with Halia in tow, so I wanted to be out the door by 9:30.

The van wouldn’t start because it never does when the thermometer dips below freezing. Stupid battery. So I hooked up the booster pack and then proceeded to break my fingers uninstalling Halia’s carseat from the back row for reinstallment in the middle row. Now that her cousin’s carseat is no longer in the van, Halia insisted we move her seat back to its rightful place.

After successfully moving the carseat, I tried starting the van again, in vain. I had to interrupt Michael’s client meeting to get him to boost the van from the truck.

As soon as I got the van started, it dinged at me to remind me the gas tank was close to empty.  I’d had to drive around for a few things on January 1st, when no gas stations were open, so the tank was getting down to its last fumes.  I was halfway out of the neighbourhood when I remembered the banking paperwork I had to take with me, so I drove home. Then down to the gas station. (Made it! Whew!) Where the van wouldn’t restart.

A gruff old guy was kind of enough to give me another boost (after I’d dropped my keys in the gas station garbage, fished them out again, and made a fool of myself trying to untangle the booster cables) and he even peered into the engine to tell me the alternator was working, but it looked like one cell of my battery had boiled.

Every month I have to go to the bank to take care of some business that is stuck in the dark ages and can’t be done online. I walked into the bank and was delighted to see there was no lineup.  One teller was just coming free, hurrah, and it was… oh no, it was the guy I dealt with last month who had no clue what he was doing and caused me to be in the bank for over 45 minutes.  I will say he was a bit quicker this month, but I’m sure the long line of customers that formed behind me didn’t appreciate that I was taking up two tellers after he got stumped.

Then there was the soaking of my jacket sleeve by the faucets at the library bathrooms, forgetting things at the grocery store, and the frightening cost of Nanuq’s medication refills, but the coup de grâce was when I decided, after all the other tasks were over, to let Halia have a snack in the van while I quickly ran into the pharmacy to buy her vitamins.  I left the van running this time, to keep it warm and to prevent the need for another boost, but when I got back outside, the van was locked! This never happens.  The van doors only lock when the van hits 30 kmph, or when it’s manually locked, and I sure as heck did not lock my kid into the running van.

I phoned Michael, who was on the road heading for another client meeting.  He had to turn around and go home to get the other van key for me, making him late for his meeting. Thank goodness Whitehorse is so small; I think it took only about 20 minutes for him to get there, maybe less, but I was freezing my buns off by the time he arrived.

Halia was fantastic through it all. I hope it wasn’t just because I’d promised her a chocolate-chip cookie if she kept her listening ears on all day. But you know, on a day like today, I’m not at all above bribery.

And I’m not above having a chocolate-chip cookie for myself, either.

Well, of course you did

29 Sep

Halia, holding a whole red pepper that has fallen to the filthy, dusty, dog-hair-covered kitchen floor: “Mama, can I eat the wed pawt on dis?”

Me: “No, Halia, it needs to be washed first.”

Me, noticing a bruise on the pepper and mistaking it for a bite mark: “Halia, did you already take a bite out of that?”

Halia: “No.”

Me: “Oh, good.”

Halia: “I licked it.”

Mom mornings

12 Jul

Jade is sleeping in the basement here at the cabin, so that she and Halia don’t disturb each other at bedtime, and because the basement is far cooler than the top bunk she was sleeping in upstairs.  Michael is sleeping with her down there, while I’m upstairs with Halia, with a fan pointed at my body to ward off the heat.

At 6:30 this morning, Jade climbed up the two flights of stairs and came into my room, weeping.

“I’m hungry!” she wailed.  This is my regular wake-up call most mornings.  But I shushed her groggily, not wanting Halia to be woken, not really wanting to wake up myself.

“Why didn’t you tell Papa you wanted breakfast?” I whispered to her.

“Because he’s still asleep,” she sobbed.


The girl who didn’t read

15 Mar

Jade has loved books since she was old enough to sit up and look at them.  She’s been known to sit quietly in the “book corner” and look at books for an hour or more.  Any adult who dares spend more than 5 minutes in our house shouldn’t be surprised to be accosted with a book and a head-tilted, hopeful, mono-syllabic request: “Read?”

They say that simply having lots of books around is a major contributor to giving kids an interest in reading.  We have no problems there.  And the girls almost always get half a dozen stories read to them in a day.

Still, I worry a bit that they are lacking in reading role models.

Sadly, they rarely see me or Michael with a book in our hands.  We do a heck of a lot of reading, but more and more of it is online.  Less and less of it is the carefully-crafted story, or perhaps a well-researched non-fiction book.

Somehow, perhaps because online reading is sometimes not just entertainment, but work, it is easier quell child-interruptions with a, “Not now, I’m busy.”  It’s also easier to start and stop the whole online reading business amid the rest of the daily routine.  Picking up a book seems to demand a more concentrated and less-interrupted effort.  And that just doesn’t happen in a house with small children.  At least not much during waking hours.

While I was sick with the flu last week, I read The Girl Who Played with Fire.  Cover to cover.  After spending a day and a half sleeping, I still had to be in bed with my sore throat, chills, and aching muscles.  But I couldn’t sleep anymore, and so I read.  Oh, what a luxury, to read, sip tea, read some more, and then roll over and nap when I needed to.

(I recognize that not every mom gets to have sick days, and I must just add here that I am soooo grateful to Linda and Sonja and Michael for giving exactly what I needed in order to get better.)(I totally paid for it in advance with having to take Jade to pre-op appointments and surgery while feeling like a train had run over me.)(The nurse told me I looked like crap.  Nicely, but still.)

I made myself go to bed at a reasonable hour even though I hadn’t finished the book, and the next day I finished up in the living room, as the girls played.  I didn’t even open my laptop.  Let them see me reading a book, for once, instead of my messages, I thought.

I’m not sure I can keep it up.  In real life, when I don’t have the excuse of illness, there are dishes to wash and meals to prepare, files to file and clothes to fold, appointments to drive to and jobs to go to.  In real life, it’s easier just to check my messages — quickly — and dash off a reply, perhaps.

But sometimes… sometimes, let them see me with a book.  How can we expect the girls to keep loving books, if they’re only good as long as they can snuggle in someone’s lap?

Mama loves books, and Mama loves to read.  Sometimes… I hope they get to see that.

The best of times, the worst of times

30 Nov

For four days now, I have skipped putting Halia down for her afternoon nap.  The first two days, she slept for 12 solid hours.  Last night she woke up once at 3 a.m. and wanted some boobing.  Tonight I’m hoping for the 12-hour miracle to repeat itself.

Now if I could just get myself to bed at a reasonable hour, I might become a productive member of society again.

No, really, I am sooo happy with my set of problems right now.  Balance is a hard thing to find.  Working, even half-time, has added a lot to my plate, so that fitting in parenting (single parenting a lot these days, with Michael on the road), keto cooking, music, advocating for Jade, blogging, and sewing are all jostling for attention, and they can’t all win.  Or else they do, but then I’m a cranky miss crankerpants to everyone around me.  Let’s not even talk about stuff like exercise because that just doesn’t happen.

But even though it is exhausting, it is good.  Jade has gone six months seizure-free. (!!!!!) Halia makes magic everywhere she goes.  What more could I ask for?

But! Yes.  It is exhausting.

I was talking to a good friend the other day; she has two grown sons just a little younger than me, and one of them had some very strict food allergies as a young child, and also required some accommodations when he was going to school.  When I talk to her, I feel she understands a lot of what I’m going through now.

“I don’t want to complain,” I said to her.  “I know plenty of people who’ve got it a lot harder than I do.”

“Yes,” she said.  “That may be.  But you can still acknowledge that your life… your situation is a lot harder than most.”

That made me pause.  Thank you, friend. Thank you for letting me feel that I am allowed, at least once in a while, to not like being exhausted.

There are lots of reasons why I don’t want to complain, lots of reasons to feel that it’s ungrateful to do so.  Everyone lives with the same reality of 24 hours, seven days a week, and the miracle of tasks that expand to fill every last square inch of time.

But maybe today I’ll try not to feel ungrateful just because I’m not glad that Jade has to be on a ketogenic diet.  I can be grateful for the miracle it has wrought without liking the daily consequences.

Maybe today I’ll acknowledge that leaving the dishes for tomorrow morning — or even tomorrow night! — might just be the best thing for me to do.

Maybe today I’ll go to bed at a reasonable hour.

(And maybe, just maybe, Halia will sleep through the night.)

Tomorrow’s gonna be a long day

21 Dec

Make that today.  Today is going to be a long day.  It’s nearly 4 a.m.  I have lain in my bed tonight, but I haven’t actually slept.  There’s this really short person who has refused to go back to sleep since 12:30.  She just ate all but one bite of a banana and part of a rice cake and she’s chirping happily to herself with no signs of fatigue.  Three guesses as to my mood at the moment.