I took my truck in the other day for some routine maintenance. Oil change, tire rotation, the usual.
When I dropped it off I mentioned to the service desk that I had noticed that the trim around the back wheel well seemed a bit loose and asked if they could retighten that. No problem. So I sit down to wait.
A half hour later the mechanic comes out.
Mr.Mechanic: “Can we give you a ride home? We’re going to need the truck for at least another 2-3 hours.”
Me: “2-3 hours? I thought the service was only going to take an hour?”
Mr.Mechanic: “Oh, yeah, that part we’re almost done. It’s fixing the trim that’s going to take a few hours.”
Me: “Really?? Isn’t it just tightening a screw or something?”
Mr.Mechanic: “No, it’s held on with double sided tape, so we need to carefully remove it then take all the old tape off. We need to make sure we get all the old adhesive from the tape or the new tape won’t stick properly.”
Me: “I’m sorry, I thought you just said ‘tape’.”
Mr.Mechanic: “Yeah, double sided tape.”
Me: “So… what you’re telling me is that my seventy thousand dollar truck is held together with… TAPE?!?”
Mr.Mechanic: “Ummm… yeah. But it’s double sided tape.”
Me: “Right. My seventy thousand dollar truck is held together with double sided tape…. Exactly how expensive is this tape anyway?”
Me: “Never mind. I’ll bring it back in another day for you to tape it back together. In the meantime I’m going to go buy some 3M stock.”
My poor, poor neglected blog.
I needed to step away from social media for a while to focus on real life for a bit. I didn’t put a big announcement on here, or make a big deal about it, simply because I didn’t know when I would be back (if ever).
Now that V is in school full time (Grade 1! OMG! How did that happen??), I finally feel like I can breathe, regroup, and look back and the chaos that has been this year.
This year started off with my autoimmune disease going from ‘inflamed’, like it has been for years, to ‘oh shit’.
What’s that? You didn’t know I had an autoimmune disease? Huh… I guess I forgot to mention it on here. It’s something I’ve had all my life and so I don’t tend to think about it much. The other reason I don’t tend to mention it, is because most people don’t know this condition is actually an autoimmune disorder rather than a skin condition.
It’s a little thing called Psoriasis. For most people, it’s just minor patches of dry flaky skin that can be treated with cream. For a small number of people (smiles and waves), it becomes a full blown inflammatory condition.
I made the hard decision to start taking a drug called Methotrexate. It’s normally used as a cancer drug and has a list of potential side effects a mile long. For me, though, it has been a great decision. I do experience a few of the side effects on occasion still, after being on it for 6 months now (like nausea and fatigue), but they’re manageable and worth the results. My psoriasis is under control, as is the inflammation that was taking over my body and joints. I have more energy, I’ve been able to come off a lot of my other medications (like some of my blood pressure pills) and I just feel better. I’m kind of kicking myself for not doing this years ago.
To take my mind off all my side effects when I first started taking methotrexate, Bil decided to cheer me up by buying me a new truck this spring.
Yay for diesel engines! (Oh, and husband’s that spoil me rotten!!)
My new truck is big and shiny and does a good job of pulling our 5th wheel. Also, it has a backup camera so I can actually park the damn thing. I love it a lot.
I was especially glad we had it when we managed to evacuate our home and survive what’s being called “The Worst Natural Disaster in Canadian History” this summer.
We live in a small town called High River that was almost completely destroyed by flood waters in June. It was a surreal experience, seeing people being rescued off roofs by helicopter, and being brought out of their homes by giant combines and other heavy equipment (yay for living in a farming community!).
For two weeks we lived at my parents place, not sure if we would have a home to go back to. But we lucked out. The flood waters stopped at the end of our little cul-de-sac. We escaped with no damage (other than having to get rid of our fridges and deep freeze that had been sitting without power for two weeks *gag*).
Most of our friends were not so lucky. They either sustained tremendous damage to their basements (imagine coming home to find water and sludge contaminated with sewer backup that’s been sitting in your house for two weeks *double gag*), or their homes were ‘coded red’, meaning they were no longer fit for human habitation.
The town has come together, though, and slowly people are rebuilding their homes and lives. Experiencing this has been an incredible testament to the strength of character some people possess.
After coming home and settling back in after the flood, we figured the worst was over. Until Mother Nature (that bitch), decided to hit us with a massive hail storm that damaged my new truck (*sob*) and the roof of our house. The good news is that it’s all repairable for the low price of an insurance deductible, which we will gladly pay.
Which brings us to now…
V is settling into Grade 1 after a bit of a rocky start. She’s enjoying her class and looks forward to school each day, which is all I can ask for.
It’s been an interesting year, to say the least. And now that some sort of normal has returned, maybe I can return here.
My facebook and twitter feeds are filed with parents expressing their hurt, their fear, their grief over what happened at Sandy Hook.
And I’ve had nothing to say.
Nothing I COULD say.
Because the grief is not mine.
The grief belongs to those parents who lost children, to the siblings left behind. The grief is for those families who lost a mother, a sister, an aunt, a cousin, a niece or a nephew.
I cannot claim that grief.
As a parent I ache for the parents and families who grieve the loss of those children and women.
As a member of a close knit community I hurt for the the community grieving the loss of so many innocent lives.
As a member of society I rail against what has happened.
And as a special needs parent, I watch with concern as autism is linked with the words ‘violence’ in the media.
But in the end, I am but a bystander.
I refuse to make this about how I feel. I refuse to make this about the killer – he who shall never be named on my blog.
This is about the victims.
This is about supporting the survivors.
This is about finding hope and peace again.
This is about making sure the names of the victims, not the killer, are remembered.
But this is not about me and it’s not about you.
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
~ Mary Elizabeth Frye
All my life I have been one of those people that others turn to when things go wrong.
Something not working? See if Jenn can fix it.
Having an issue with someone? See if Jenn will deal with it.
Life falling down around you in tiny itty-bitty pieces? Bring it to Jenn to put back together.
And I don’t mind, for the most part.
I like being able to help. I am a problem solver by nature.
But sometimes it can be an isolating experience.
People go off and leave you holding everything and a roll of duct tape because they assume that you’ve got this.
Or people are suffocating with their attention when they need something. But as soon as they are back on track they disappear into the ether.
And while I’m happy that they’re happy… I does make me wonder why I was the one they turned to. Was it because they knew I’d listen? Offer advice? Do what I could to help?
Or was it because they consider me a friend who has their back.
But if I’m such a great friend… when do these same people start asking how I’m doing?
Because that’s the interesting thing… they never do.
The people who do take the time to ask (and care about the answers) are never the people who expect me to drop everything and fix their lives.
Maybe it’s because those people who want their lives fixed for them are too self absorbed to look beyond what they are experiencing in the moment. I don’t honestly know.
All I know is, if you vanish into thin air,when you finally reappear, don’t expect me to still be standing in the same place.
Friendship has become a word that is lightly bandied around. Connected on twitter? Friend. Added on Facebook? Definitely a friend. Someone you have coffee with once in a blue moon? Well then, of course they’re a friend.
As I get older, though, I find that word much more precious and use it more selectively.
Friends are those people who take the time to understand who I am. This isn’t something that happens in one conversation, or even 10. There are people who have known me for years, and yet really don’t know a thing about me.
Oh sure, lots of people think they know me. But those are the people who scratch the surface of who I am and are content to leave it at that.
And I can’t say I fault them for that.
I am an intense personality.
I live my life with purpose.
I am passionate about the things I believe in and the people I care about.
I am direct in my thoughts, words, deeds.
All that can be a lot for people to take in. Intimidating, even.
So, for them, there is ‘JennLite’. The happy-go-lucky, no cares, no worries, superficial version of me.
But is that me? No.
And if that’s the me you know?
Then you don’t know me at all.
It used to be, when V got sick I would take to the Twitter and Facebook to get advice, support, and sometimes a much needed dose of reality.
But lately I find myself turning inward more and broadcasting less.
Everything is put aside so I can focus on Vista and what she needs to get better.
This past week has been a perfect example of that.
V’s been sick again. Starting with a bad case of croup, and then spiraling down into an asthma flares and other complications.
We’ve been logging the hours at the ER and Children’s hospital (where they wanted to admit her, but there weren’t any beds available. -1 for free healthcare).
And through all that, I’ve been much quieter than normal. Except for a few of my closest friends (who I had to cancel plans with) and a couple clients (who I had to explain why I wasn’t getting any work done), no one has really known the extent of V’s condition, this go round.
I couldn’t really say why. There was no concious thought to not let everyone know how she’s doing.
It was more just the need to spend the time taking care of her, mixed with a healthy dose of exhaustion.
Thankfully she seems to have turned a corner and maybe now that I know that she’s on the upswing I feel better about putting out updates.
We still don’t fully know what’s going on with her. But we’re working on trial-and-error meds to see if anything will help and if not we’ll get a referral to a pulmonary specialist.
Mommy instinct (which never fails me) tells me that there’s something more going on and we’ll need that referral. But we’ll play the game, and try the meds, and then I’ll gear myself up for another battle for my daughter’s health.
Me: “Vista, maybe you should go put your pyjamas on.”
Me: “Let me rephrase that. Vista, go put your pyjamas on.”
Vista: “NO! I’m going to stay nudie FOREVER!”
Me: “You can do that when you turn 18 and move to a nudist colony. While you live under this roof, you will have to wear clothes.”
Vista: “I don’t care. I want to be nudie!”
Me: “It’s not summer anymore. It’s cold at night. Go put your pyjamas on…. NOW.”
Vista: “Well this sucks!”
a) I can’t believe I have to have these conversations with my five year old.
b) I’m starting to sound more and more like my parents. Kill me now.
c) Clothes are highly over-rated, but I’ll never tell her that.
I’m cooking dinner and I’ve already kicked the dogs out of the kitchen several times. I can see them slinking just outside the kitchen door, trying to look ever so casual as they prepare for another attempt at begging food.
Me: “Dammit Spyro! Go lay down”
Dog: Makes as if to go lay down then turns back to the kitchen when he thinks I’m not looking
Me: “Go lay down or I’m going to stab you with this fork!”
Vista: “Nooooo Mommy! Don’t stab him with a fork!!
Me: “Fine. How about a spoon”
Vista: Thinks about it for a minute. “Yeah, OK. Use a spoon…. He’d like that!” Skips off smiling
Me to Bil: “Something tells me she really didn’t understand that conversation.”
I don’t think I’ll be letting her watch Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves any time soon…
Back to school and back to blogging. I feel like I can be excited about writing again.
I decided to take the summer off to just enjoy the sun, hanging with V, and take time to recharge. It was something I needed. Time to reflect and just….be.
But lots has happened since June.
So here’s a 3mth update:
In June we were worried about V getting for an aide for school this fall. She was doing really well and if she scored too high on her assessments she wouldn’t qualify for that assistance, even though we still knew she needed it to some degree. Turns out we didn’t need to worry. She only scored 5th percentile or below in all her testing. Her fine motor scored less than 1st percentile because of severe behaviour issues during the testing.
Those test results were a bit of a sucker punch. We had watched her improve so much through the year. But we didn’t take into account the growth and improvement that is natural and expected of a kid her age. So, when you factor that in, she’s still sitting about a year behind in her skill set.
Except for reading and computer skills. Those are off the chart. The school has asked for permission to test her reading again when school starts to get a gauge of them. Last fall at the age of 4 she was reading at a solid grade 2 level. They think her level now that she’s 5 is closer to a high grade 3/4 level. Which scares the hell out of me. I was an early reader too, but she’s way beyond where I was at her age.
At least we don’t have any worries about her alphabet skills going into kindergarten.
July was project month. Which including building this behemoth in the backyard.
We started off trying to build it ourselves, with the help of some friends.
Then we got real and called in the experts (aka: My dad and a couple of his buddies).
Without them, I can safely say that swing set would still be a work in progress.
We’re very glad we bought this though. It has an angled ladder with a handle, which allow’s V to climb up on her own. (she can’t manage the more vertical ladders that are on many slides at playgrounds). And having swings in our backyard has really allowed her to work on her core strength and balance. Yay for play that acts as therapy!
We also got her a new wooden playhouse because her old plastic one was too small for her (can we say major growth spurt?). Bil and I built that one ourselves. I won’t show you pictures, though, because it’s a wee bit crooked. I blame warped boards for that. It has nothing to do with our complete and utter lack of building skills.
August was an awesome month. We paid off all our debt (except for the mortgage)!! YAY!!!!
That was an amazing feeling…. for the whole week it lasted.
Because then we went out and bought this:
But we’re super happy to have bought this. We got an awesome end-of-summer deal on it and we’ll have it paid off by the spring.
It means we can actually take camping TRIPS with V, rather than short excursions close to home. This allows us the flexibility of making her meds while we’re on the road and also give us the security of having a power source in case we need to use her nebulizer.
We’re already saving up for a camping trip out to Vancouver Island next summer. Can’t wait to show V the ocean!
And that brings us to September!
School starts tomorrow!! (Me, excited? Naaaaaah)
V has her aide from last year back again, which we’re thrilled about. And now we just wait and see how she handles the first day back!
Hope you all had a fabulous summer too!
Vista has been saving her money and so we went out today to let her pick out a toy. We headed over to the local box store and started wandering up and down the toy aisles.
I made a conscious decision not to skip the first few aisles where the so called/labeled “boys” toys were. I wanted to see what toy Vista would pick when allowed to choose for herself.
She ignored the barbies. She walked right past the dolls. She didn’t even look at the shelves upon shelves of princess and Suzy homemaker stuff.
I will admit I was a little surprised. But instead of asking if she was sure that was what she wanted (and thus making her question her choice), I instead asked her if she wanted to look at anything else or if she was done.
She told me she didn’t want to look anymore and was ready to go.
So we headed home, put together her new toy, and she proceeded to play with it for the next two hours.
It’s always interesting what toys kids will choose when left to be kids rather than assigning the toys genders. Many parents when faced with the same situation would have told their daughter’s “No, sweetie. That’s a ‘boy’ toy,” and dragged their girls to the aisles of pink.
Vista does love pink, and loves to dress up as a princess, but she also loves to play with toy cars and trains. I’m OK with that.
This year for her birthday, we bought her a butterfly net and a kit for catching and examining bugs. She was thrilled and immediately had to go outside and get some ants to look at under the magnifying glass.
I don’t want to limit her scope of play just because she’s female.
When I was in Junior High the girls had to take home-ec and the boys took shop. That was just the way it was and no one questioned it.
I was disgusted. I wanted to take shop! That sounded like a heck of a lot more fun than baking a cake.
I got together a few other girls and we campaigned to be allowed to opt into the shop class instead. We pointed out that it was just as important for us to be able to use tools as it was for boys to be able to cook a meal and sew on a button.
We were lucky. Our administration listened and changed the classes so that both girls and boys each took half a semester of shop and half a semester of home-ec.
That was over 20 years ago.
And still, here we are assigning gender roles to everything.
I would even go so far as to say that we’ve taken several steps backwards in this area (if the PINK Easy-Bake Oven that Vista has is any indication. When I had an Easy Bake it just looked like something you would see in the kitchen. It didn’t need to be pink.)
I will continue to encourage my daughter to play with toys that she enjoys and that encourage her to explore and question her world, because, the last time I checked, toys don’t have genders.