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{February 27, 2011}   The Depths of my Rage…

So, I’ve disappeared a bit. There are reasons for this, and while I can’t get into particulars here, I want to discuss a few things that I’ve had the dubious honour of learning over the last 3 months.

First, the foster care system where I live SUCKS. Just…SUCKS.

Aboriginal children are treated like possessions, paycheques, and houseplants, at best.

No mind is paid to attachment. NONE.

Respite caregivers are helpless, even if they’ve known a child their entire life, and been a steady caregiver throughout.

Our system is more concerned about saving money than saving children’s lives, or saving families. You’d think they’d be able to strike a happy medium, right? Yeah, well, hope springs fucking eternal.

Foster parents are nothing more than vendors and have no power to advocate for the best interest of children. Zero. The courts and any other powers that be quite simply don’t GIVE A SHIT.

Even in the face of a reasonable solution that will provide minimal disruption for the child, Children’s Services will opt for the option that makes the least sense, and will turn a kid’s world upside down. EVERY. FUCKING. TIME.

Foster parents are naive, but it’s often not their fault. We ask questions, but those questions go unanswered in an effort to cut foster parents off at the knees and keep them quiet. I wouldn’t ordinarily say something so brazen, but what I have witnessed recently shocked even me, and I am not easy to shock when it comes to anything pertaining to foster care. Really.

So…I just want to say, if ever there is a foster parent reading this post:

PLEASE advocate. Don’t rely on your worker to tell you the whole truth. You MUST, MUST, MUST continue to ask questions, attend any court dates you are permitted to attend, and fight TOOTH AND NAIL if you believe a child to be in peril. You MUST, because it is your moral obligation as a foster parent, and a human being. Please do not simply “accept” what you are told by the system. Get lawyers, escalate complaints, write letters and be tireless.

Children die. Child abuse is not going away, but common sense IS. It’s NOT OK to send a child back to abuse without a fight of some kind. It’s not.

Children’s Services needs to remember who they work for. CHILDREN.



{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! ūüôā

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. ūüėČ

“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 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 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…



{September 24, 2010}   Let’s Just Be Kind…Please?

So, I’m as much a bitch as anyone. Really. But, I have a few things to say, directed at¬†no one (online) in particular.

First, everyone just needs to relax. Seriously. Stop getting up each other’s asses for comments¬†in which the context is unverified. Assume that people are not out to get you. Assume that they mean well. Assume that they mean to hurt no one. Assume that they are doing the best they can with what they have. One comment/remark/action/incident is not adequate evidence to condemn a person and write off their character entirely.

Just for today: Do something kind for someone who you would ordinarily feel is “undeserving” of your kindness.

Just for today: Respond to that which you find offensive or hurtful with loving kindness.

Just for today: Be that much more gentle.

Just for today: Laugh at something that is stressing the shit out of you.

Just for today: Do something nice for someone.

Just for today: Do something nice for yourself.

Just for today: Realize that your outlook is only one of many, and few (if any) things in life are black and white. No matter how right you think you are, you could actually be “wrong”. Or, at least, not entirely right.

Just for today: Let go of your hang-ups, and those things that cause your bum to pucker, and don’t worry about it. Really. Just…don’t. Your worrying isn’t changing anything but your cardiovascular health.

Just for today: Please remember that everyone is someone important to someone. No matter how vehemently you disagree with them, someone loves them dearly, and would feel a void and loss if they were gone.

Just for today: Remember that life is short and fleeting. Don’t hate people for their petty or misguided mistakes. At their funeral, you won’t remember any of those hang ups anyway. All you’ll remember is the good, and you’ll wonder why the hell you wasted so much energy on the rest of it, and why you wasted so much time.

Just for today: Hold those people close to you, and let go of the hang ups and resentments that create barriers between you. You can always put them back up tomorrow, but just for today, enjoy the love.

That is all.

And also,¬†I’m not high.



My husband and I are considering moving out of the city. I’m tired of the vandals, the poisonous grass (I’ll explain later) and the noise. If you’d have told me 10 years ago that I’d want to move back to my hometown, or one like it, I’d have called you a filthy liar and throat-punched you. But, here we are.

I feel, now that my Dad has passed, that our family chain is broken. We all adored my Dad, and often, he was what kept all of us talking to one another. He was the “glue”, if you will. We didn’ t want to hurt him; he so hated to see his family at odds with one another. But now, we have nothing holding us together, it seems. And suddenly, I am afraid of being alone, and isolated, and having no family at all. I made a decision a long time ago to remove myself from family politics, but since politics and infighting are such an enormous part of the family tapestry, it limits my relationship with many of them, because I am not willing to gossip, badmouth, or engage in any other mean-spirited behaviors that I would tell my children not to engage in.

I am worried about my mother, as well…She isn’t terribly independent at the best of times, and now that he’s gone, I fear for her in many ways. My siblings are so…unpredictable, and sometimes even volatile. Though they live near her, I don’t feel confident leaving them to be her support system.

I feel isolated living here, not quite an hour away. And I have also changed somewhere along the way. Where I once craved the activity and community of the city, I now find the noise and stress to be vexations to my spirit, and worry about my children growing up in a place where they breathe in nothing but exhaust and pesticide residue.

Oh, I said I would explain later about the poisonous grass… Well, the city I live in, once upon a time, agreed to keep pesticides and other chemicals off the grass that is in parks and school yards. Well, apparently they had a change of heart…We live in a house that backs onto two school yards and the community hall. My husband had my allergy-ridden son outside playing and rolling in the grass, when suddenly, WAAAAAAAAAAAY over yonder, he sees a TEENY little orange sign, in the middle of a 6 acre field. He walks over to it, and reads that the area was sprayed with chemicals the day before and to KEEP OFF GRASS.

FUCK!

So, he scooped up A, ran him home, stripped the poor little guy, and put him in a tub with epsom salts, powdered oatmeal and clay to try to prevent a reaction. He still got a rash, but at least there was nothing more serious.

But…Jesus…Really? Really, City? Must you? They at least could have warned us, considering they were renegging on a promise they made this very year. Sigh.

Anyway, I just want an acre or two of land, outside a small town, where I can feel safe knowing that the only thing on the ground is what I or the Creator has put there.

Selling our house in the city, and finding something affordable, however, is a whole ‘nother story.

I think maybe I was always a country mouse at heart. I’ll keep you posted about our progress, or lack therof.



et cetera