Home Sweet AnnaBelle











{February 28, 2011}   $hit My Family Says:

“Hm. You look kinda thin. And not in a good way.”

“Can you call these bill collectors and tell them I’m in a women’s shelter?”

“Mom and Dad weren’t alcoholics. They were just bar flies who drank at home when they got older.”

“You and your Dad will always have music. He loved the others, too, even though they were tone deaf.”

“You look like your great grandmother. My God, she was a bitch.”

“You sing like your grandmother. My God, she was a bitch.”

“Well I don’t know what happened…? You all have the same dad, fer Chrissakes, you just got the only tall gene!”

“You know what would look really nice on you? Make up.” [Said by my sweet, well-intentioned sister, who really didn’t understand why I looked incredulous at her “suggestion”. It’s like someone “casually” suggesting gum, deodorant or soap.]

“I totally forgot you had freckles. Mom wouldn’t let us mention them anymore after ****** said they were ugly and you cried. Loser.” [For the record, I was 7.]

“Can I borrow some money? My heat was cut off.”

“Can I borrow some money? My phone was cut off.”

“Can I borrow some money? My mortgage is behind.”

“Can I borrow some money? I can’t pay for my son’s braces/school clothes/school supplies/haircut/tuition?”

“Can I borrow some money? I just got outta jail.”

“Well, I don’t know why they always asked you for money either, fer Chrissakes. It’s not like you have any. You’re just the most gullible, I guess.” [Thanks, Mom.]

“Glad to hear your wisdom teeth came out fine. Hey, did they give you any percocet?”

“I can’t drink coffee without Bailey’s….What?….No….Bailey’s isn’t REALLY alcohol. More like a sweetener that warms me up.”

“I just hope when I kick off, you kids won’t totally disown your sister.” [No promises, Ma.]

“It’s OK. Tall girls can carry off big feet.”

“Yeah, you should probably stuff your bra to wear that shirt.”

“It’s OK. Your Dad’s expectations weren’t unreasonable. After ******, he just prayed the rest of you would hold a job and not steal.” [Hey! For once, I’m ahead of the game! I feel your pride shinin’ down on me, Daddy-O!]

“Whatever, at least I don’t keep garbage on my counter.” [My sister, referring to my kitchen composter.]

“If you don’t have a microwave, how do you cook vegetables?”

“I AM eating healthy. Peanut M&M’s have protein.”

Coming Soon: My Mother’s Mother-isms. Stay tuned, Kids.

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{February 15, 2011}   I know. I KNOW.

It’s been months.

I couldn’t begin to explain what’s been going on in my life, so I’m not going to try. Sigh. But…Things are on the upswing, I think. I hope.

If I have failed to return any emails, etc., I profusely apologize, and hope that you will not take it personally. I have 1500 emails right now in my inbox. Not. Kidding. UUUUUUUGGGGGHHHH. But, I will be spending the next couple of weeks going through them and catching up.

On the upside, I got a new computer! Yay! My old one bit it…BIG TIME. It’s a Mac this time around. Thank you Air Miles! 🙂

Peace.



{October 27, 2010}   One HELLUVA Week

I’m usually pretty calm. I mean, I’m a little high strung about some things, I suppose, but I’m UBER calm with my kids. Even on my worst days, I’m proud to say that there is very little they can do to push my buttons, or freak me out.

However, a 105.1 degree fever is definitely enough to make me almost shit my pants. Not at the fault of the kid, obviously, but at 4 am when baby is screaming and her temperature is up to 105 degrees, it definitely borders on new-underwear time. Let me back it up…

So, Friday night was pretty rough…Clearly LG (Little Girl) was having some issues when she went to bed, but nothing huge. She just wanted to be held (happy to oblige) and cuddled a bit. However, she woke up a couple hours later, and was pretty unhappy. Even after being fed, bum changed, rocked, sung to…Nothing. Inconsolable. Usually, she’s pretty easy to settle. She’s good at letting me know what she wants and getting her needs met. I quickly figured out that it was probably her teeth giving her trouble, though I couldn’t feel anything for sure. Gave her some homeopathics, and finally got her settled enough for bed at a very late hour.

Saturday night, all hell broke loose. Up all night, I was, until I finally just pulled her into bed with me. She was fine, as long as some part of her was touching me. As soon as she couldn’t “find” me, in her sleep, she’d whimper and cry. I’d take her hand, or cuddle her, or rub her back, and she was immediately back to sleep. I woke up at about 2am, wondering why my arm was on fire. Only, it wasn’t. My kid’s was. OMG.

I took her temperature, and at that point, it was 103 degrees. Yikes. I checked her mouth. Gums on fire, and a molar about to erupt. Neat.

Still stumbling in delerium, I called our local “Health Link” number to talk to a nurse and find out if I had to take her to the ER for the fever. Fevers are important for fighting infections, but let them get too high, and you risk seizures/brain damage. Both my children have a propensity for those things already because of their medical histories.

However, the nurse on the phone, while helpful, definitely raised some questions in me. First, she did give me some good, current first aid info about fevers…The protocol seems to change so often. I’ve taken Infant/Child First Aid on 4 different occasions (had to for previous jobs), and the recommendations for fevers have NEVER been exactly the same every time. Evidently, you are no longer supposed to give them baths, or do too much to try to cool them down, because if they begin to shiver, the fever will elevate more rapidly. Hm. Interesting. Good to know.

But she did say something, almost chuckling as she said it: “The Canadian Pediatric Society has determined that there is no link between teething and fever.”

Pffft.  “Are you kidding me?”, I blurted out. Whoops. Guess 2am is not my finest hour.

“Uh, yeah,” she said, barely stifling a laugh. “It seems odd to me, too. I raised 4 children, and they always had fevers when they teethed, but hey, who am I?”

I like this lady.

“Yeah,” I said. “I guess thousands of years of mothers are wrong, eh?”

“Guess so!”

After running through a checklist intended to rule out possible serious issues/infections, she also told me that until the fever reached 105.8 degrees (OMG!) that she should be treated at home with Tylenol. No can do, said I. My kid can’t have Tylenol. Ibuprofen then. I conceded that if the fever got bad enough, I would, indeed, administer Ibuprofen, but preferably not before, since drugs sometimes do as much unseen damage, in my opinion, as they do good, if they do any good at all. LG has some tendency for tummy troubles, and I didn’t think it would help to exacerbate the situation unnecessarily.

LG’s fever got up to 104 degrees that night, until finally, at 5am, I checked her temp., and it was down to 100 degrees. At 5:45, it was down to 98 degrees. Thank the flying spaghetti monster. The kids and I slept late that morning, including LB (Little Boy), who’d been kept awake by the commotion, poor gaffer.

Monday night, however, things only got worse. Not only did she have a wicked bad fever that reached its height at 105.1 degrees, but she screamed, and screamed, and screamed in discomfort. She was up every half hour, and was absolutely miserable. This time, I did pull out the Infant Advil, unfortunately (a hard thing for a crunchy mom to do, trust me!), as well as using homeopathic teething remedies and putting some nutmeg on her gums, a remedy my Dad always swore by for tooth pain. At this point, I just wanted her pain to stop. In spite of the Canadian Pediatric Society’s claims, my baby is making it blatantly clear that her teeth are the root of this particular problem, including incessant chewing, drooling and rubbing her cheeks. Plus, during the day, she’s totally OK. Tired from her long nights, but otherwise OK. Active, eating well, drinking, etc. Teething tends to worsen at night. Quite the friggin’ coincidence, wouldn’t you say?

Last night, I staged a preemptive strike, and gave her Advil before putting her to bed. No temperature. Tonight, so far she is OK, but I take nothing for granted. The night is young.

Just as a rundown, on top of LG’s long nights, I am packing for the four of us to go on vacation in another country, trying to clean, hire a cat/house-sitter, and dealing with a particularly fearful situation with regard to my son, which I can’t share here. I can’t do anything but wait it out, but let’s just say, I’m glad to be getting out of the country for a few days.

I’m getting a facial while I’m on vacation, Goddammit.



{October 18, 2010}   They’ll Tire Out Eventually!

Aaaah, the well-meaning words echoed to new mothers everywhere, as their babies colic, teeth, fuss and sob.

I truly wish someone would explain to me the appeal of letting my child “cry it out”. It is a suggestion I get over, and over, and over, by mothers of all different levels of experience. I am working on dissecting it a little…Trying to understand it while not attaching judgement. I am trying to look at it from a strictly pragmatic position.

Let’s break it down by using some rationalizations that I have heard from others:

“You’re no good to them if you’re tired and frustrated!”

Frustration. I get this. To an extent. Many of the advocates of the CIO method have touted it as some kind of child abuse prevention method. I have to admit, this is hard for me to understand. Not because I’ve never been tired, frustrated, or crabby…My daughter’s first few months were rough. She was a sick kiddo, and cried a lot. But because hitting my kid would simply be counterintuitive to me. Ask me again when they’re teenagers. 😉

“You can’t be with her every second…You need ‘you’ time.”

Okey doke. So, while my child is screaming in the next room, I’m supposed to put up my feet and enjoy some bonbons? If my child is crying, I am stressed. It is physiological for women, I think. Even if it’s a stranger child on a plane, the sound of a baby crying raises my blood pressure and makes me want to jump up and tend to them. Maybe it’s not physiological, and I’m just a creep. I don’t know. But babies crying stimulate a response in me that I have seen in many, many women, with and without children. Point being, I won’t be relaxing anyway. I might as well be with her.

“They need to learn to soothe themselves to sleep.”

When was the last time you found it soothing to essentially scream yourself to sleep? How did you wake up feeling the next morning if and when you have cried yourself to sleep? I know I end up feeling like garbage. Puffy eyes, headache, hoarse voice, fatigue. Sounds restful, doesn’t it?

“They’ll learn to manipulate you if you go to them every time!”

I don’t think babies manipulate. I think they’re very clear. They want their moms. There’s no hidden agenda there. They want love, affection, food, a change, whatever. It’s not manipulative if the kid needs love. Instead of thinking of it as a “scheme”, why not just give them the affection they are seeking? Is that really a bad thing?

“They have to learn to be away from you!”

Really? Why does an infant need to learn to be away from its primary caregiver? They’re infants. Their entire existence is based on the need/relaxation cycle…Having their needs met when they express them. I’m not sure I can buy into the theory that depriving my child of her needs is a way to make her somehow stronger.

Here’s the other thing that I wish others understood. My children (siblings) are adopted. We are adopting them from foster care, and were not expecting to have children so young placed with us. When they were, it definitely took a lot of adjustment, not just for us, but ESPECIALLY for them. Children grieve. I truly believe this, though my friends who are not involved in adoption in any way think I’m a crackpot when I say it. Even babies understand when those with whom they are familiar are just…gone. Because we were expecting older kids, it was a little tough for us to know how to express to non-verbal children that they were safe. That we weren’t going anywhere. And that we knew they were hurting and wished they weren’t.

My son was 16 months old when he came home, and lost everything he knew…His foster family, his home, his pets. Everything. He was afraid. He grieved openly. He didn’t sleep for at least a couple of months. He was confused.  He had suffered 2 MAJOR losses in his life already. His First Mother and his foster parents, to whom he was very attached.

Our daughter, while only 10 weeks at the time, had also suffered two losses in that short period of time. Her First Mother, and then her foster family.

Kids don’t just “forget”. Maybe cognitively, but not physiologically. They remember those losses, and their grief is locked up in there somewhere. It’s my job to respond to their needs so they know that they CAN trust. So they know that they WON’T lose us. I don’t know if it will get through, but I know that NOT responding to their needs won’t get it done. I tend to be verbal (shocker), which is why I do so well with older kids. I can talk to them, and I can often get through. Babies were a huge challenge and learning curve, but I knew that what I couldn’t express verbally, I could express with consistency, nurturing and unconditional love. It’s really the only tool I have, so letting them cry, in my view, would really send them a glaring message, wouldn’t it?

In the end, I think it worked out. I can’t say for sure it was because we didn’t use CIO, but I think it’s probably a good bet that they feel secure that their needs will be met. Both kids are very affectionate, expressive, and have healthy attachments to us. Hopefully, as they get older and work through their grief, they will be able to express it (not necessarily to us, if they don’t want to) because they have not been made to feel unsafe in expressing emotions, even difficult/negative ones.

I am not writing this to judge other Moms. We all have our way of doing things, and while I may disagree with another mother’s methods, I am certainly in no position to be sanctimonious, and I hope that’s not how this post reads. I am just really trying to understand what, if any benefit is to be reaped in allowing an infant or small child to cry his/herself to sleep. Because I am at a loss.



{October 14, 2010}   You Know What’s A Bitch?

Getting passports for kids not yet legally adopted for a trip you don’t particularly want to go on with people you really don’t like that much.

More on that at a later date. Thanks for listening.



{October 9, 2010}   The Calm After the Storm

I’m feeling much more peaceful now, after the last post. Yikes. I’m sorry you had to read that, but either I posted it here, or I sent it to my sister, and I thought that this was probably the lesser of two evils. I swear, my head was going to pop right off my neck if I didn’t get it out. I’ll explain more another day. I’m not in the mood to be angry.

So, onto much happier topics…

Isn’t it pretty?

This is a piece of relatively “unspoiled” land, just outside the  town hamlet where we want to live. It is roughly 107 acres, and is listed at $449K.

No, we did not suddenly come into money. We don’t want all 107 acres. But, whomever purchases that land will likely subdivide it, and sell it off, 5 acres at a time, for rural homes. THAT is what we are looking for.

So, if this is the land that we are waiting on, so be it. If it takes 2 years, so be it. I can be patient. No, I can’t. That’s a lie. But, I must. I keep telling myself that if we work hard, save hard, and don’t settle, that things will work out.

I just REALLY want to be out there before the kids start school. I’ve driven by this land. It’s beautiful. Treed, and backs onto a wildlife reserve, which is amazing. We would keep most of it just like this–raw, except for the front 1-2 acres where the house/yard/garden/fruit trees/chicken coop would be.

I just keep thinking of my kids. I have NEVER loved another human being like I love them. I love them so much, that it physically hurts at times, and I mean that. I have never been so grateful for anything in my life. And I want them to have this. I want them to be able to play outside amidst trees and flowers. I want them to be able to eat fresh eggs (hopefully my son outgrows his allergy), and I want them to occasionally wake up to a deer in the yard. I want them to know where their food comes from, and know their neighbours. I grew up in a smaller community, and there are aspects of that community that simply cannot be replicated in the city. I guess it’s natural to want to give your kids the best of what you had, and spare them the worst.

I’ll keep you posted on how the land shapes up. It’s been on the market since February, and no takers yet. We’ll see.



{October 6, 2010}   To Whom it May Concern:

I’m a nice person. Get the fuck over it. When I express concern, worry, and caring, it is because I am concerned, worried, and I care. I always tell you what I’m thinking, but you’ll notice I don’t have to club you over the head with it.

I don’t hold shit against people. Well, sometimes I do, but honestly, no one is perfect, and I don’t have to have everything in common with someone to show kindness to them.

I don’t fight other people’s battles. If you are angry with someone I won’t stop speaking to them on your behalf. Sorry, but if everyone did that, no one would be talking. Ever. In life. Plus, I have enough of my own shit. I don’t fight with people for funsies. I can disagree. Even vehemently disagree with someone, and still treat them with respect and dignity. It’s the classy thing to do.  Sulking doesn’t get your point across. My 2 year old has THAT figured out.

Tantruming, sulking and bullying does nothing for your case. Truly. If you use those tactics, you will eventually find yourself with no one. Because no one will tolerate that shit forever. Not even our own mother. You can’t sell people on your point of view by being mean to them. Social Skills 101.

Stop with the “more persecuted than thou” bullshit. Everyone has their shit. Take a vitamin and truck on, you know? It’s not that I don’t think pain is valid. I do. But Jesus Christ, does EVERYTHING have to be about how much harder it is to be you than everyone else? Seriously? You are creating a self-fulfilling prophesy. You act like an asshole, and then no one wants to be your friend. Then you stomp your feet when people aren’t that nice to you. Well…how about not being an asshole, for a start? Give it a go…?

Lastly, just because I am your family member does NOT mean I owe you anything. (In fact, if we’re counting, I believe you owe me something to the tune of $15k…sound familiar, or did amnesia just kick in?). You don’t get to treat people badly and then have everyone indulge your bullshit.

We are ALL suffering. All in our own way. Pull yourself together, and quit being a douche.

Sincerely,

Your sister who lost the same father you did, Fuckhead.



{September 30, 2010}   3 Awesome Things

1) My kids are so cool. Today, I was ahead of the game on almost everything (LOVE when that happens!) and got to play with my kids ALL DAY. Well, anytime they were awake, that is. I guess another awesome thing is that they both napped at the same time today, which lately has been a total no-go.

2) My son’s beautiful curls are long again, and he needs a hair cut. But he’s so cute when he wakes up with bedhead that it kills me to cut it.

3) On the topic of hair, my previously bald baby is now a beautiful 12 month old girl who is rockin’ the toddler mullet. So awesome.



{September 27, 2010}   Dear Anxiety:

Go fuck yourself. Please. Just let me close my eyes at 1am without racing thoughts and shortness of breath.

Thanks.

P.S. – I know you think it’s funny when the baby wakes me up 10 minutes after I can FINALLY fall asleep. Well, laugh it up, Chuckles. It’s not funny. Nor will I be particularly funny at 6am. I’ll see you then, Asshat. With bells on.

Sincerely,

Very Sleepy & Anxious AnnaBelle



{September 25, 2010}   Wanting to Get Outta Dodge…

So, we’re still trying to move our asses out of this city, but we are facing some major hurtles.

First, when you are moving to a small place, there will logically be fewer places on the market there. Which means, it’s hard to find something within your specifications, no matter how broad, because there is just less to work from.

Second, we have no idea how the logistics of all this are going to work, or even IF they are going to work. See, we really can’t buy a house until ours is on the market, and ideally, sold. But then, we also can’t be homeless, and given what a tough time we are having finding something in our desired area, we don’t want to risk having nowhere to live at all.

Third, M doesn’t want to move ’til spring. Understandable. It IS going to be a longer commute, and while he realizes that he’s going to have to do a winter commute at SOME point, there is no reason it needs to be this winter, since our wheels are kind of spinning anyway. So, we are at a bit of a standstill.

We will keep looking, but my desire to get the fuck outta here is killing me. We got egged–AGAIN–the other night. They got both our vehicles (one of which we don’t even drive because we are trying to sell it…thanks fuckers), both our living room windows, our dining room windows and all the way along our fence.

Jesus.

I hate living where we live. We are vulnerable because we are right off a path, and that path leads to a dark field, on the other side of which sits 2 elementary schools and the community hall. I’m on my community league and we have so many little hooligans around here that we have had to replace COUNTLESS windows in the community hall, and even fix the roof, and replace a whirlybird (is  that what those things are called?) because they climb onto the roof at night.

Anyway, I am increasingly disillusioned by this place. Our little home… “close to schools and all amenities!” is losing it’s appeal, very quickly.

Maybe a really big, pissed off dog will do for now…



et cetera