The Mom in Me

Turning In, Taking Care

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.

 

Tricky Treats

Part of the fun of watching your kids growing up is watching them become more aware of holidays and the excitement that brings.

This is the first year that Vista’s really talked about Halloween.  She’s over the moon whenever she sees a pumpkin (which might include trying to walk off with the pumpkins decorating the local coffee shop… oops!).

But I’m discovering that the older your kids get, the more work Halloween becomes.

First the costume.

Vista originally wanted to be a butterfly or a lady bug.  And because I’m the obliging parent I dutifully looked for those costumes.  And proceeded to veto both.  Call me crazy, but I don’t think my daughter needs to wear a mini-skirt tutu to preschool.

We finally found a costume that satisfied both of us (cute enough for her, decent enough for me – with the option of being worn over a winter coat… welcome to Halloween in Canada).

Enter Little Red Riding Vista.

littleredridingvista 498x750 Tricky Treats

Either that or she’s a level 60 mage, casting a spell.  We’re not sure which.

Anyway, with the costume issue checked off, I moved to the next thing on my list.  Treats for her to bring to preschool.  Which as any parent with kids know, this is a WHOLE lot harder than it sounds.

I was planning on doing up little treat bags for each of her classmates.  Simple in theory.  Until you factor in that Vista’s friend, J,  who is also her classmate, has a severe anaphylactic nut allergy.  And when I say serious, I mean I’ve seen this kid react after touching something that had been played with by another child who’d eaten peanut butter earlier in the day.

Oy.

So I checked with J’s mom to see what candy I could bring.  I mean, surely there was lots of candy out there that’s peanut free… I just had to avoid the peanut chocolate bars, right?

Uh…yeah… wrong.

I had no idea that Halloween is so dangerous for kids with peanut allergies.  J’s mom knew of only a few candies that were safe for these kids.

So off I trooped to the local store.  And I read label, after label,… after label.  Peanuts, traces of peanuts, may contain nuts.

*headdesk headdesk headdesk*

Are you kidding me?

In this day and age everything has nuts in it??

Back home I turned to the great Google in a quest for peanut free candy.

Low and behold, I find out that Canadian company, Allen Candy (their Easter bunnies have been a staple in our house for a loooong time) makes peanut free candy!  YAY!!

They have Allan Intense Jubes & Jellies, Allan Chewy Rascalz and Allan Fruit Buddies*, all peanut free and enough to make great little treat bags for pre-school kids.  Double YAY!

Now that that’s out of the way, the only thing left is to top last year’s jack-o-lanterns…

026 750x498 Tricky Treats

* For those of you also looking for peanut-free Halloween treats, Allen Candies can be found in retailers like Wal-Mart and Loblaws

 

 


Disclosure – I am participating in the Allan Candy Company program by Mom Central Canada. I received compensation for my participation in this campaign. The opinions on this blog are my own.

 

 

As The Seasons Change

Ahhhh… October. The changing of the leaves, the return of the pumpkin spice lattes, pulling the winter wardrobe out of storage…

What? Not everyone gets to experience the joy of packing away all the summer clothes and pulling out your winter outfits that have been packed away for the past…ummm…three months…?

It’s SO! MUCH! FUN! *cough*

I just love having to go through every single shirt and figure out if it still fits Vista or if it can go in the donate pile. Love it, I tell you! I can’t think of anything I’d rather do with an hour of my life. *sob*

Vista on the other hand is beside herself with joy. She’s a firm believer in the theory that a girl can never have too many clothes.

Every shirt she pulls out needs to be ooooooohhh’d and awwwwwww’d over.  Then it has to be hugged.  Like you would hug a long lost friend.  Then she has to exclaim “Oh! My favorite shirt!  I’ve missed it SO MUCH!!” over Every. Single.  Shirt.

It’s a loooooong process.

Don’t even get me started on the absolute elation when she discovered the pile footie pajamas.  She’s a footie girl, through and through.  There might have been squeeing  (on her part) and a few advil popped (on my part).

On the bright side, since she so excited about the new-ish clothes, she’s more than happy to help put everything away in the drawers.   Child labour for the win!

The wardrobe change over does tend to highlight exactly how much your kid has grown over the summer, though.

I put a size 5/6 shirt on her this morning, thinking it would still be fine on my 4 year old.  Uhhh, yeah… that would be a negative. Unless of course I was looking to send her to school in a belly bearing crop top.  Oy.

I am thanking my lucky stars I stocked up on a bunch of size 7/8 winter clothes when they went on sale last spring, otherwise I’d be taking out another mortgage just to keep this kid in clothes.

Have you started the great clothes swap with your kids yet?

 

 

Sometimes Making a Mess is Required

While spring has sprung (sort of) here, it’s still not quite warm enough to sit outside and play for any extended period of time.

Vista has been bugging me, daily, to let her play with her Aqua Sand.  I’ve been trying to put her off because, holy hell, that shit is messy and ends up everywhere, and I would much rather she played with it outside.  But yesterday, it was just the two of us (her aide was off for the day), and in lieu of having her paint (herself, the table, her clothes, everywhere but the paper), I finally caved and pulled out the sand for her.

I found the biggest tablecloth I could find and put it across the kitchen floor in the hopes it would contain the sand. Feel free to laugh hysterically at me now.

Photo 2ECE193C BCDA FAE2 14E6 A6B873B0399E 225x300 Sometimes Making a Mess is RequiredBy the time she was done, sand and water were from one end of the room to the other.

But?

She had fun.  And happily entertained herself for over an hour.

And the bonus of the sand and water, is that it’s a great tactile sensory exercise for her.  I also give her lots of containers, spoons, and sponges, so she can practice transferring water and sand from one container to another.

For those not familiar with Aqua Sand, it’s basically colored sand coated with Scotchgard.  That means it repels the water and ans soon as you take it out of the water it’s instantly dry (no mud pies in the house).  It also means it doesn’t stick to her hands so she can play with it and experience the fun of sand and water, without the freak out of her hands being dirty.

You can apparently make your own aqua sand, which I may try, because this stuff is like $5 for a little container and quite frankly I’m too cheap to continue buying it.

Routine

One of the weird brain things Vista has going on is called ‘Partial Agenesis Corpus Callosum’ (Partial ACC). It’s sometimes called ‘split-brain syndrome’. Your corpus callosum is what connects the right and left side of your brain and lets them talk to each other. Vista’s, however, isn’t properly formed. And so it is to blame for some of her issues with impulse control, recognizing emotions, and decision making.

The other day, a blog I read that shares stories of people living with ACC linked to an interesting video on split-brain.

There’s a part where the parents talk about having to learn that getting mad and yelling at their child is a waste of time and effort, which made me laugh. This is so true of Vista. You can get upset with her and she’ll just stand there with a blank look on her face, or say something random and walk away. That would be the point where I head for the liquor cabinet.

Watching the video, though, did give me some other insight on how to get Vista into some sort of routine.

As much as she hates leaving an activity, once she’s stuck into it, she’s not a strict routine type kid.  She’s much more like her father, in that regard.  They’re both free spirits.  And it drives me crazy.  Seriously.  I’m the person who lives and dies by my calendar.  I don’t do well with unstructured.

I’ve been struggling to find a happy medium with Vista.  Something that’s easy for her to grasp and makes sense to her little brain and allows us a tiny bit of structure to the days.  Also something that will help reduce the battles for simple everyday things like brushing teeth, getting dressed, and going to bed.

So, this is what I came up with.

A ‘chore chart’.  Right now it’s meant to help her with basic life skills.  As she gets older, it will evolve to include more ‘chore’ based items like making her bed, or helping with dishes.  But for right now, we’ll start with the simple stuff.  Heh.

chorechart Routine

It’s made with a piece of white poster board, stuck with magnets to the fridge. Each chore is a piece of paper glued to poster board then mounted on magnets, so we can switch or add chores and tasks easily.
Chore Routine

For the actual success/failure of whether the item was completed, I wanted something meaningful that a 3yr old could understand. Check marks are random. She’s just not going to get that. And stickers really don’t mean much to her either. So what I settled on was circles of yellow and red paper (I used a circle craft punch to quickly make them) and drew a happy face / sad face on them. We then use small magnets (which make up a nose on the faces) to stick them onto the board. I did it this way, rather than gluing each circle onto a magnet, because it’s easier to store flat pieces of paper when they’re not in use. (that’s a Canadian quarter to give you an idea of size)

happy sad Routine

The way we’re working this is if she goes the full day with 1 or less sad face, then she gets a treat from the treat basket (which is an old easter basket filled with random dollar store items).  And so far she seems to be grasping the concept very well.  She’s asking for almost everything she does, if that means she gets a happy face on her chart.  And the mere mention of a sad face was enough to stop a tantrum in it’s tracks this morning.

The whole thing cost me about $5 in dollar store supplies to make.  Cheap and easy, just like me.  Wait…what?

For those who want to make their own, here’s the chore items you can print out.  It’s done in a Word doc and the pictures are simple clipart.
PDF version:  Chorelist PDF
Word version:  Chorelist MS Word doc

*just a tip – I glued the whole chore list page to poster board and then cut it out.  Much easier than trying to paste little strips of paper onto poster board.

** And another tip – this is a kids chore chart.  Stop trying to make it perfect.  They’re not going to notice if the lines aren’t exactly even or the faces are a little bit off.

Mangwani Mpulele

When my mother was young, she grew up in a home where only French was spoken. As she got older, and learned English, and they moved to English speaking communities, she slowly stopped speaking French all together. These days she can understand it, if spoken to, but chooses not to speak it as it takes her too long to formulate the sentences (and she finds her English accent, when she speaks French, embarrassing).

Despite her being anglified, my childhood was filled with French songs, as those are the ones she recalled from her youth. I grew up singing Frère Jacques, Alouette, and Au clair de la lune. Although I really had no idea what I was saying, or singing, they were still my favorite songs.

And now that I have a daughter, I sing the same French songs to her. Partly because they’re the songs I was taught as a child, but also because Vista has a very peculiar trait.

She is very particular about ownership. Everything must have an owner. My house, your car, her bike… and that applies to songs.

I was no longer allowed to sing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ after she heard the Wiggles sing it. “No mama, that’s the Wiggles song,” whenever I tried to sing it to her. The same thing happened when she heard Barney sing “Mr. Sun”. It became Barney’s song, and I was no longer allowed to sing it in her hearing.

And so my challenge has been to find songs she likes, and will tolerate me to sing, that have no ‘owners’.

I’ve been forced to reach back to my days around Girl Guide campfires, and pluck the obscures songs that she’ll never hear on the radio or TV.  (Lucky for her, I have the strange talent of being able to remember almost every song I was taught to sing as a kid.)

Her current favorite is an African song called “Mangwani Mpulele”.

Here’s a really bad audio clip of me singing it.
Warning:  I’m not a singer.  I’ve never claimed to be.  I don’t even sing Karaoke.  Listen at your own risk.

It’s what I sing to her most nights when she wants a song to fall asleep to.  (Yeah, a white redneck girl singing and African tribal song.  Weird, n’est pas?)

It does make me wonder, though, what sorts of songs she’ll sing to her children when she’s older.

In The Mirror

I lay out her new barrettes for her to pick from this morning.

“These ones mommy.  They match my shirt.”

I pick up the ones with pink polka-dots and clip them into her hair.  First one side, then the other, so her sides are pulled back and won’t fall into her face while she’s playing.  She hate’s having hair in her face.  But at least we’ve graduated from wearing hats all the time to putting barrettes in.

I adjust the one on the left so it’s more secure, and then look at her reflection in the mirror.

My heart skips a beat and I can feel the tears pricking my eyes.  She’s growing up so fast.  No longer a baby.  And hardly looking like a toddler.

She’s definitely a little girl now.  And all girl.  Pinks and purples.  Dresses are her favorite.  And having clothes that match are important.  Very important in her world.

Her blond hair and blue eyes tell me we’ll be in trouble when she’s older.  She has the same deep blue eyes as me.  People are always surprised when they meet us in person.  No, I don’t photoshop our eyes to be blue.  They simply are.

She meets my gaze in the mirror and gives me a big smile.

“You happy Mommy?”

“Yes, sweetie, Mommy’s very happy,”  I lie.

I can see the independence in her eyes.  I recognize it.  It is my independence.  And I know trying to keep her safe in a bubble with just make her fight harder to get out.

At three, I have a glimpse of the girl and woman my daughter will become, as I look back at my own reflection.

VistaSept2010 In The Mirror

Preschool, School, Homeschool… *headdesk*

150x106 Preschool, School, Homeschool... *headdesk*
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

I’m pretty sure Vista’s therapists think I’m a complete flake.

We’re having to make the dreaded preschool decision for this fall.

And when you have a special needs kid, it’s not as easy as just picking one and going.

First there’s finding a place that will take ‘early entry’ (take them when they’re three instead of four).

Then we have to find a place that takes kids who aren’t potty trained yet. And that little criteria pretty much eliminates every preschool in our area unless Vista has an aide. Which at this point isn’t a given.

So at this point we’ve put her name in at both school boards (public and catholic) in the off chance she does get an aide.

But now I’m sort of backpedaling. I’m not convinced that putting her in preschool this fall is the right thing for her after all. She’s going strictly for the socialization aspect, but are there better arenas for that?

This past week of seizures has really made me reconsider. How are other kids going to react to a child who acts one way for a month then has a few seizures and has a complete personality change? Aide or not, other kids don’t react well to that sort of lashing out.

And Vista’s birthday party on the weekend was another event that made me rethink this whole preschool decision.

There were about 10 kids there (ranging in age from 2 – 10). These were good kids. Well behaved kids. Kids who weren’t wild and screaming and acting like idiots. Kids with LOTS of parental supervision. Ten kids is a VERY small preschool class. Only one school, in a small town south of us offers a class of that size.

And Vista lasted one hour with 10 kids before the meltdowns started. Before the pouting defiance started. Before she was miserable and overwhelmed. To the point where we didn’t open presents at the party because it would have been too much for her.
To the point where she didn’t even eat a piece of the special no-cheese pizza we ordered for her or her birthday cupcake because she was so stressed.

She latched on to her BFF, Gracie, as soon as she arrived and wouldn’t let her out of her sight. But Gracie isn’t going to preschool next year. So who would be Vista’s anchor in the sea of toddler chaos?

As much as Vista needs the socialization and to learn how other kids her age play, how much is she really going to get out of it if she’s completely overwhelmed with the situation?

So maybe we’ll keep her at home for another year and let her be a kid for a bit longer.

And maybe we’ll throw schooling right out the window.

More and more people out here are moving to homeschooling, sick of the bullying that goes on, sick of the substandard education that’s provided as a result of over-worked and under-paid teachers.

And Vista with her follower copy-cat mentality, poor coordination, but bright mind would be a prime target for bullies. I know. I was too. It ruined my early school years. I don’t want my child going through that.

What a choice. Schooling, socialization, bullying, questionable education vs homeschooling, butting heads, and losing my sanity.

Which would you choose?

 Preschool, School, Homeschool... *headdesk*

This Is What I Call A Workout, Sort Of. Now Where’s My Chocolate?

This morning started off nice and leisurely.

Vista got up, I made her breakfast, had a coffee. We were just kicking back.

I pulled up the weather site. Checked the temperatures. Cool. Hmmm… well, maybe if I bundled her up and threw her in the stroller we could go for a walk, since I’ve been saying for the last 6 months 2 months couple weeks that I was going to get out and start exercising.  Then I could have my shower once we get back while Vista’s having a snack.

My nice little plan was starting to take shape – then the unthinkable happened – the phone rang.

I know?  Who the hell calls at 8:45am?  Even if they do know I’ll be up.  Even if it is a weekday.  Still.

Jenn:  Hello *sounding a tad irritated*

Cindy:  Oh hi Jenn, it’s Cindy.  We have a 9am appointment for Vista and I just wanted to make sure we were still on.

Jenn:  Oh of course!  Come on over.  We’re ready and waiting!

Cindy:  Alright, see you in a few minutes!

I looked around at the living room, that hadn’t been vacuumed in two days, scattered with toys.  Glanced to where Vista was sitting, still in her pajamas, hair not combed.  Realized that I was wearing ratty house clothes, I hadn’t showered, teeth weren’t brushed, had an epic case of bed head and a ginormous zit had taken up residence on my chin.

And Vista’s early intervention worker was going to be here in 15 minutes to work with her.

Shiiiiiiiiiiiit.

I sprinted down the hall and grabbed the vacuum and did a 10 second tidy of the living room and hallway.

Grabbed some clothes out of Vistas drawers (matching is for pussies.  And if Cindy says anything I’ll say V picked out the outfit.  Yes.  I’ll LIE).  Threw them on the girl who was still sitting there watching me, trying to figure out what the hell was going on.  Her hair.  Oh geeze.  Thank goodness she’s obsessed with hats.  Grabbed one and threw it at her as I sprinted down the hall to my bedroom.

I cursed the fact that, of all days, I had to pick today to forget to check my calendar.  Then made a mental note to thank Bil for throwing on a load of laundry, so I at least had clean clothes and made the mad dash into the bathroom.  Blow dryer in one hand, toothbrush in the other.  I realized I’m not that coordinated when I just about ended up with toothpaste in my hair.

I gave up on both and resorted to copious amounts of styling product and hairspray, and a good rinse with mouthwash.

Check the clock.  2minutes.  Crud.

I critically examined the zit that was attempting to become a micronation.  Grabbed the cover-up and did what I could.

Looked at the rest of my makeup… another glance at the clock.  Dammit… guess I’m going au natural.

Ran out to the living room and got Vista to help me herd the animals outside.  She’s giggling hysterically thinking this is great fun.  Yeah….laugh it up chuckles… just you wait til you have kids…oh gawd…I’m becoming my mother…

Try to get around Vista who’s meandering back to the living room.  Gave up and ran the other way around the kitchen island, jumped the steps down to the front door, and pulled it open as Cindy was coming up the walk.

I pasted a big smile on my face and welcomed her in while calculating in my head how many calories I just burned, because, really?  I think I deserve an award… made of chocolate.

 This Is What I Call A Workout, Sort Of.  Now Wheres My Chocolate?

The Lowest Priority

Raise your hand if 99% of the doctors appointment you’ve been to since having kids have been for them.

I’m totally guilty of this. I spend at least a portion of each week running to this appointment or that therapy session for Vista. And I would never, ever, ever forget her nightly meds.

But when it comes to doctors appointments for myself, or even remember to take my daily dose of happy, it sort of falls into the ‘I’ll get to that eventually pile’.

I’ve had a doctors visit on my to-do list for the past two-and-a-half years. It just hasn’t been that big a priority. It’s not like I was dying or anything. I simply am getting headaches and migraines more often. It’s been like that since I first got pregnant with Vista. But, in the grand scheme of things, it just wasn’t life altering enough to actually bother with the hassle of organizing a visit to the doctor for myself.

The past few month have been worse, so I finally got my act together and made an appointment.

Sitting in the office today, I felt sort of silly whining about headaches. I mean, really? But he nodded, raised an eyebrow when I mentioned how persistent they were and the occasional dizzy spell. He whipped out the handy-dandy blood pressure cuff and took a reading, and then a second one…. and a third one to confirm the first two. 150 over 90. That? Is not good. And that would probably explain the headaches.

I used to have perfect 120/80 pressure. But once I got pregnant with Vista, my blood pressure started creeping up. The day I finally went into labor it hit 160/115.

But after I had her, I got busy with new baby stuff. And there just didn’t seem to be time for anything else.

I’m realizing now I should have made the time. And I know most parents are guilty of that. We neglect ourselves in favor of our children.

So, I walked out of the doctors today with a prescription for blood pressure meds, two prescriptions for migraine meds, and a lab requisition form with almost every other box checked off. Evidently my doctor thinks draining every last drop of blood from my body will somehow help things.

But I will give him points for being thorough. He wants to make sure there’s nothing else I’ve neglected. So I’m getting the full panel – Electrolytes, glucose, cholesterol, vitamin B12, vitamin D, thyroid, protein, and a bunch of others I have no idea what they are for. Oh, and a bonus ECG, just for the fun of it.

I think we need to remind ourselves every once in a while that our own health is just as important as our kids. It doesn’t help them if we leave things too long and end up sick ourselves. So the next time you think ‘Oh…I’ll get to it…eventually…”, just go do it. That’s the voice of personal experience speaking.

 The Lowest Priority

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