Saturday, July 31, 2010

All I wanna do is bang bang bang bang.

I come by running naturally. My birth father is a runner (he actually does marathons every once in a while). I've been running every day for just over a week and I'm up to 45 minutes on the treadmill. It is probably not a coincidence that I feel like I'm finally pushing up off the bottom of the ocean floor - moving up to towards the light of happiness. I thought I would run while watching television, but it turns out, all I want to do is listen to music. Loud. To help keep me motivated, I have been creating new playlists for each run. For tomorrow's run I've got the following songs on deck:

Hot-n-Fun (featuring Nelly Furtado) - N.E.R.D.
Konichiwa Bitches - Robyn
Cobrastyle - Robyn
Stylo (featuring Mos Def and Bobby Womack) - Gorillaz
Paper Planes - M.I.A.
Galang - M.I.A.
Move Your Feet - Junior Senior
Freak (featuring Kardinal Offishall) - Estelle
Deceptacon - Le Tigre
Hello Good Morning - Diddy
Boys Wanna Be Her - Peaches
You Give Me Something - Jamiroquai
Go! - Common

I know, I lost all my credibility with that Diddy track. But it's a fun tune, so you know, stuff it if you don't like it. I'm taking recos though - please leave me your comments with tunes you think would help keep me moving! I really appreciate it. Like, really really. Just no Queen, okay?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Pulling the Plug.

I did something last week that I never thought I would do. It even took Scott by surprise. It really isn't that big a deal - I merely deactivated my facebook account.

I know, hard to imagine that I of all people - lover of the clever status update - would take a break from facebook. And twitter. And my *gasp* blackberry. Not to say I'm not reading email and bidding on pandora beads on ebay like a fiend, I am absolutely still technically available. Just not as readily available as I used to be.

I'm not sure what the tipping point was. but I started to feel like too many people had access to me. Social media can be informative, funny, interesting and a great way to keep in touch with your friends. But it can also be a way for people to keep tabs on what you are up to, make casual, uniformed comments, or hit you from multiple channels when they want to get hold of you NOW. As someone who is trying to keep a lot of balls in the air on any given day, that can be very overwhelming. What I didn't expect was the outpouring of concern I received when I ditched facebook. The number of emails I got asking if I was okay made me realize how many people give a shit about me and my family.

So, yes I am okay. My family is okay too. If you want the details, feel free to email me - I might even email you back. ;-)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Run For Your Life.

We got a treadmill last week. Cancelled the gym membership we weren’t using with the hope that being able to work out at home would encourage us to do just that. I like being able to run on a treadmill at home. It’s private, there are no mirrors showing you what’s jiggling that shouldn’t be, and you control the music. There is no need to wear headphones, so I’m unencumbered by stuff. Just me and my shoes, my favourite tunes pumping, keeping me motivated to push through when I start to tire.

I have run every day this past week. The first day I managed 25 minutes. A week later I’m up to 40. I’m not sure where the energy comes from. I think what I’m really doing is funneling my anxiety into my feet. Running seems to be the only way to calm my nerves, work through the erratic thoughts bouncing around in my brain. I actually look forward to getting home so I can find some relief from feeling like I am going to jump out of my skin and climb the walls. It’s only once I’m soaked with sweat and completely exhausted that I am able to actually sit and feel calm, maybe even - dare I say - relaxed.

In the past I have mostly run for physical fitness and to lose weight. This time it’s completely different – I’m running for my mental health. A friend of mine told me he finds running really boring and repetitive – but that is the very reason I like it. There is no thinking involved – just one foot in front of the other. Suddenly the things that have been stressing me out float away or seem to line up in a way I can sort through them without feeling overwhelmed. Everything is not so big, not so bad. It will be okay. It will be okay. One foot in front of the other grasshopper.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Giving Thanks: Grandad.

When I started writing this post, I wondered how I should refer to Grandad. He is Max and Cameron’s Grandad, my mom’s husband, my friend, and while we are not related by blood, I certainly do consider him to be a strong father figure in my life. Ian/Grandad was actually my friend before he was my mom’s friend. I used to dog sit for him when he went on vacation and I even had dinner at his house on several occasions. It was me who named his brown spotted Dalmatian “Coco” (may she rest in peace). Turns out I have pretty good taste, as my mom up and married him! One of the things I love most about Ian is his ability to see the good in people and look on the bright side of difficult situations. He always has a new joke on hand to tell you and he shares my love for all things sweet. He also gives me tips about car maintenance and reminds me to do things like turn my furnace humidifier on in the winter and to make sure I turn the water off to the outside taps when the thermostat dips below freezing so they don’t burst. He likes to tease me about my hair styles and how I curse like a sailor and I have to be sure I know the weather forecast for the coming week before I call him so we can compare notes on how they are fairing on the west coast compared to us folks in Onterrible. He also takes breakfast very seriously (as does Max). My one major criticism is that he didn’t meet my mom back in the early 70’s because that would have changed a lot of things for all of us. Thank you Ian for finding our family - better late than never!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Giving Thanks: My Friend Jennifer.

When I was looking for a picture of Jennifer for this post, I wasn’t sure which one to go with. I stole this off her flickr account because our friendship has always involved food, one way or another. Jennifer has a fantastic site about Vegan cooking called It Ain’t Meat Babe. She inspires me to eat local, try new things in the kitchen, and garden. When she visits us she cooks up a storm, plays with my kids, and doesn’t mind when I take an afternoon nap. We have known each other for over 25 years (so long that she never needs the background on a story because she lived through it with me). Jennifer was my maid of honour, was there for Max’s birth, and is Cameron’s favourite Aunt. I worry sometimes that I am a bit of a bore to her (she has a pretty fun life and a lot of super interesting friends), but she sticks with me through the day-to-day, mundane conversations about living in the suburbs and poopy diapers. She is also a great person to shop with and when I’m out with her I always end up buying a foxy dress (or two). We sure are different, but it has never kept us from being great friends. I used to sign off my letters to her with "I'm your trailer park and you're my hurricane". That's true to this day (though I'm the one they named a hurricane after!).

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Giving Thanks: My Partner in Crime.

If you wondered when I was going to get around to giving thanks to my husband Scott, never fear, here it is. We have been together for 12 years. We have had ups, we have had downs. I don't think we ever imagined we would have the life we do (how can anyone predict having a child with Autism?). Every day he rides it out with me. He laughs with me, cries with me, gives me hugs when I am too frozen with sadness to move, and tells me he loves me when he leaves in the morning, no matter what. He is not perfect, neither am I. We are works in progress for sure. When I am bouncing off the walls in one of my "MUST DO THIS NOW" manic moments he shakes his head and waits for me to calm down. When he needs a kick in the ass, I am there to help get him moving. He is the one person in this world who truly knows what I am going through, and every day he stands next to me and dukes it out with Autism. All that, and he is still able to be silly and laugh and take tremendous joy in both of our children. Thank you Scott for knowing when I need to tag out and for still wanting to go out on dates and weekends away with me, even after 12 years.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Giving Thanks: Maxwell Hunter.

What is there to say that hasn't already been chronicled on this blog? Max, you show me how strong I am every day. You have taught me what true love really is. We are on this journey together, teaching and guiding each other step by step. We have no map, though sometimes I wish we at least had a cheap gps or something. Ah well, we'll figure it out. Thank you Max for loving me and for being my son.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Giving Thanks: Cameron Elizabeth.

Where do I begin my sweet Cameron? You make me laugh every day. You are a ham, a charmer, a performer, a handful, and everything and more I ever hoped for in a daughter. Your big brown eyes melt my heart, your curls are just about the cutest thing ever, and your could launch a thousand ships. The things that come out of your mouth, they surprise and delight me every day (and make me realize I need to clean up my language). I am blessed to be your mommy and I can't remember what life was like before you.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Giving Thanks: Jess Howard.

I have only had the pleasure of meeting Jess once, and even then it was a very brief "omg! yay! I'm so glad I ran into you" type of exchange at BlogHer last year. She was very shy, and it was wonderful to get to meet her, if only for a few minutes. I have been reading her site, drowninginkids, for about 3 years now. We have emailed a few times and exchanged blog comments. I am grateful for Jess because she writes so candidly about her battle with depression. She is raw and honest and has written about attempting suicide, her divorce, her mental demons, medication, financial struggles - she lays it all bare. She also writes about her overwhelming love for her kids, and is one heck of a fine photographer. Knowing that she is in the world, getting up every morning and doing her best to figure it all out, staring at the ceiling many nights unable to sleep, that her thoughts run dark and wild, helps me know that I'm not the only one who struggles. I only wish I was as brave as Jess and able to write as openly as her. Maybe one day.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Giving Thanks: My Mom.

This is one of my favourite pictures of my mom and me. I think I appreciate it now even more that I have a daughter of my own. My mom means everything to me. She understands me better than I do sometimes. She sees things in me that I think nobody notices. And when I don't call her back she doesn't get pissed off at me. She also doesn't hold it against me when I'm so wrapped up in my own stuff that I forget to ask her about her stuff. I wish we got to see more of each other. I wish I had more energy to put into our relationship. I'm just at the beginning of learning how to be a mom. She's a wonderful guide on how to make sure your kids know they are loved. I'm lucky and blessed that she is my mother (and not a snort).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Giving Thanks: No-Nonsense Nana.

I've been having a hard time of it lately. I think I need to focus on the blessings in my life, instead of the struggles. So, here we go (and rest assured, if you are a positive force in my life, you will get a post, not to worry!).

No-Nonsense Nana.
She is Scott's mom. She is also my mother-in-law. But most of all, she is Max and Cameron's Nana. We nicknamed her "No-Nonsense Nana" a few years ago. Not because she is mean or harsh or any of that, but because she doesn't put up with bad behaviour, and the kids know it and love her for it. Scott is pretty sure that in Cam's mind, Nana is ahead of him in the pecking order. Max knows when she tells him to wash his hands she means it (but he also knows if he asks for a cookie she will give him one). And when Cam goes to Nana and Bumpa's for a sleepover, I can rest assured that Nana will keep her until the very end of the weekend, because they are both having so much fun they just forget where the time goes.

Scott and I have been together for almost 12 years now. That means that I have also known Lorraine for that long - which, mind boggling as this is, equals over a third of my life. She has seen me through ups and downs, heard me complain about her son (and the other way around I'm sure), and over time, she has become my friend. I can tell when she is having a hard day, and she most certainly knows when I am having one. She helps me with laundry, poopy diapers, and most of all, she has been there for the most challenging days. Some weeks the dark days outnumber the "easy" days (I'm guessing what we define as "easy" is really still pretty tough by most other's standards). But she keeps coming back, no matter what.

Thank you No-Nonsense Nana. I am lucky to have you in my life.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

My Brother Has Autism.

I was at the pharmacy yesterday, picking up my bag ‘o drugs (mostly allergy related). Of course, I had Max with me, and of course he was objecting loudly about the wait. The pharmacist came to the counter with my meds and started walking me through the new prescriptions (potential side effects, YAY!, etc). Max continued to whine loudly, causing her to look over at him, perched in the grocery cart, attempting to get out. I felt like I needed to explain why he was whining, that he wasn’t a poorly behaved 4 year old, so I said “he has a diagnosis of Autism”. But I think she already knew that, and in the blink of an eye, she had come around the counter and was standing right in front of Max, looking him in the eyes and introducing herself. She went on to tell me that her 17 year old brother has Autism. I inquired as to how he was doing, hoping for a good news story. She hesitated and told me that her brother is severely Autistic, and completely non-verbal, that back in 1994 there wasn’t the therapy there is now. In fact, when her brother was diagnosed, the blame for his Autism was placed squarely on her mother’s shoulders because she must have been a “Refrigerator Mom” (cold and unloving) to cause him to be so detached from the world.

Hearing that stung. I can’t even imagine how that must have felt for her mother. I already feel so much guilt about Max having Autism. I know it's irrational, but I carry it with me every day. I do wonder if there is something I did to cause it. One of my friends who has a son with Autism jokes that she believes all of the cheese whiz she ate during her pregnancy must have caused it. There are 6 children with Autism within 2 blocks of our house. I often wonder if the Ford plant in the city we live in contributed to Max’s disorder. But nobody has ever suggested that Max has Autism because I was an unloving mother. I think that would have killed me.

The pharmacist went on to tell me that Max’s eye contact blew her away, that she had crawled on the floor for 3 years, getting in her brother’s face before she got him to look at her. While I worry that Max’s squawking and objecting is bothersome to those who aren’t familiar with him, she thought that the fact that he was singing, greeted her and said “good bye” was amazing. Meeting Max probably made her day. I am finding I meet people who are directly affected by Autism more and more. They are “my people” and they are everywhere. One day Cameron will be in the same situation as this pharmacist, but she'll be able to share her brother's great success story.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Déjà Vu All Over Again.

When I was a kid I got a few really bad sun burns. As in, need to a see a doctor, hurts to breathe, stay in bed kind of sun burns. They usually happened as a result of me swimming for hours on end and refusing to get out of the pool. I suppose the fact that I'm about as fair as Snow White and I was in the Dominican Republic didn't help. (There are pictures of me burnt to a crisp, cradling a pineapple in each arm somewhere, but I can't find them so you're out of luck.) But as a result, we're really careful with the kids - dousing them with SPF 60 whenever they are outside. They love that a lot.

One of the things Max does (and this behaviour comes and goes) is wipe his face over and over with the back of his hand. It causes his face to become so raw that it bleeds. One of his therapists reported to us that in a 3 hour period, he wiped his face over 200 times. It's heartbreaking to see his face after a day of this.
We combat this by applying zinc once Max falls asleep. I had to wear zinc on my face when I was a kid, so I know it sucks and I don't blame him for hating it. He seems to know, even when he's sleeping that I'm applying it. Thing is, it really works, and by the morning his face looks a lot better.
The challenge, of course, is that if he falls asleep on the couch, I have to carry him upstairs, and by the time I get him in his bed, we're both covered in the stuff. Good thing he's cute!
One of Max's therapists has figured out that if we wipe zinc on the back of Max's hands, when he wipes his face, he actually wipes zinc on his nose and cheeks, which both helps heal his face and stops him from wiping, because he doesn't like the zinc. Max is so friggin' bright, it's nice to outsmart him every once in a while. Also, I need to get him tested for allergies as it may not be a coincidence that at the very time my allergies are going nuts, he's wiping his nose mother like son, perhaps.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Saved: Part II.

Today was my last day "off" before I start work full-time on Monday. I spent the afternoon gardening and despite taking a Claritan, my allergies went bananas. My eyes are red and swollen and itchy and watery. But my garden, looks great.
Before (Front Walkway):

I'm surprised the cedar bushes didn't drop dead from the other bushes encroaching on their space and basically strangling them. I cut one down to nothing and trimmed everything else back so that the walk way is completely clear. Of course, I forgot to take a "before" picture of the front of the house, but picture it all crazy and overgrown and you'll be super impressed.
After filling 4 paper gardening bags I topped up the front beds with mulch. I'm please to say that the mulch pile is GONE. And my yard has that fresh cedar smell I love so much. Now, where's that Benadryl??

Thursday, July 01, 2010


This month's NaBloPoMo theme is "Saved". While I can't commit to blogging everyday this month (I've been hit and miss for the last while), I do like the idea of writing about saving. Today I'm going to write about something that has saved me, instead of the other way around. Surprisingly enough, it's my garden.

Prior to this summer, I have never enjoyed gardening. It was something that I did because I felt like I had to - it was a right of passage for living in the 'burbs. And then I had Max, and it all went to hell. Between being sleep deprived, caring for a baby, being pregnant again, and then caring for a baby and a toddler, my yard was the LAST thing on my mind. Really, I couldn't have cared less.

This year, I find that I look forward to getting outside to work on the garden. And even when I can't work on it, because I'm chasing the kids, I find myself puttering, picking weeds here and there, assessing what bush needs pruning (all of them), and what areas need...MULCH.
I got 2 cubic square yards of mulch delivered yesterday. That's a lot of mulch. My father-in-law, bless his heart, spread half this pile over the backyard (I took this aerial view from Max's room to show off his hard work). I added another pile later in the day, and yes, there is still quite a bit left over (I'll use it up, not to worry). I only wish I had taken a before picture from this perspective!
The mulch cleans everything up, makes the garden look well kept, and the added bonus is that Max loves the way it feels under his feet. I'm pretty sure he's wondering what the heck I'm up to in the backyard, but likes the fact that we're outside so much.
My neighbours, Michael and Irene are big fans of all of the work we've been doing. They took great joy in sharing some of the plants from their yard with me. Irene tells me that this one (back center) will turn purple in the Fall and be really pretty:
And daisies! Who doesn't love daisies? I am told these spread like wild fire, so I'll have to keep an eye on them so they don't take over:
One of my favourite plants is the hosta. We managed to separate out a really good one from their backyard, and I planted it in a nice shady area next to the shed. I'm willing to bet by next spring this whole area will be full of hostas.
Tomorrow I'm going to tackle the front yard - lots of hack and slash gardening to be done (my favourite). Hopefully my mother-in-law won't hold my heavy hand against me! I can't wait to put my mind at ease and my muscles to work.