small town

10,000 Square Feet

We live in a small town in rural Alberta. I love it here. It’s quiet. It’s peaceful.

I love the sound of coyotes at night, the sight of the horses grazing in the field behind us.

It’s a pain in the ass when I have to drive to the next town over for the occasional Starbucks fix. But not enough that I’d want to move.

What I really struggle with, though?

I have a love/hate relationship with our 10,000 sq foot backyard (that’s about a quarter acre if you prefer).

I know. Most people would kill for that sort of space.

For Vista’s first birthday we had several big tents set up, several plastic play structures, and two pony rides and still had a ton of room. The yard is beyond huge.

But I have a black thumb. Blacker than black. I don’t have a single living plant in my house. Plants see me coming in the garden center and start wilting.

The one tree we had in the back yard? Died. I know. I wish I was kidding.

So now the yard is a dead tree, Vista’s playhouse and her slide, and… that’s it. *hangs head in shame*

Well except for the 10,000 sq ft of grass. But don’t worry. That’s dying too.

The only thing that’s not dying, but is thriving? Flourishing in fact? The weeds. *starts banging her head on the fence repeatedly*
Three guesses what I was out in the hot sun TRYING to kill today?

So yeah. Yard = dead, dying, or plastic.

I would desperately LOVE to do something with the yard, but what?

I have a dream of meandering paths, raised beds (with actual live plants in them), and a central fire pit area.
Bil wants a stream or a pond, but I’ve veto’d that idea. I’m realistic enough to know the dogs would just use it as a giant bathtub to play in. And wet dogs smell? *gag*

But it never seems to happen. I just don’t know where to start and I get so overwhelmed at the whole idea, I give up before I begin.

If there’s a bored landscaper out there looking for a great before and after project, this would be it.

Oh, and in case you think I’m joking about the yard:

 10,000 Square Feet

The Neverending Story

I was going to post a really hysterically funny video of Vista today. At least Bil and I found it hysterically funny. But then again, it’s well known to the world that we have a sick and twisted sense of humor.

I know, you’re sitting there going ‘OK, well, if this video is so damn funny, where is it??’

Well, here’s the thing.

I’ve decided not to post it.

The video was something along the lines of this, with a little less Will Ferrell, less scripting, and a lot more of me doubled over laughing in the background.

But after having CPS called on us last November, we’re quite frankly a little gun shy about putting anything out there that might smack of anything less than perfect parenting.

And then I think about that and it REALLY. PISSES. ME. OFF.

I’m not perfect.  Show me a parent who is.  And yet, here I am trying to live up to some impossible standard because somebody who knows nothing about me decided he should get some say on how I parent my child.

Now every time I’m out with Vista, I’m crossing my fingers that she doesn’t have a meltdown, and that someone won’t decide to stick there nose into something that is, quite frankly, none of their business.

I’m finding a lot of things don’t get done these days.  If I drive somewhere and Vista falls asleep before we get there?  Rather than wake her up, take her in the store, and chance an outburst, I turn around and go home.  Because?  It’s not worth the risk.

I walk around on egg shells hoping that no one will find fault that’s not there.

And I thought at first it was just in this small town we lived in.  I even tossed the idea around of moving somewhere new.

But then I realized, it’s not the town.  It’s me.  This… thing… has pervaded to the very core of my parenting philosophy.

And now it’s invaded my blog.

It’s like I’m living in Fantasia and being hunted by the Nothing.

This need to censor is at direct odds with the person I am naturally.

I am irreverent.  I am risque, at times.  Ditto for controversial.  That’s who I’ve always been.

I’m not someone to toe the line or follow the norm.

And yet I find myself doing exactly that, because I will do anything to protect my child from ignorant people who think they know more about her than I do.

 The Neverending Story

When Phd = Phucking Horrible Doctor

I thought my first post back after BlogHer@Home was going to be a wonderful “we had such a good time, thanks everyone, thanks sponsors” touchy-feely post.  I did sit down to start writing one this morning.

Yeah, that was before my morning turned to crap thanks to a doctor who has her head so far up her ass I’m sure she can see her own tonsils.

A bit of background here.  (And if you don’t like TMI, skip this paragraph).  Vista suffers from chronic constipation and, unfortunately, sometimes her bowels get completely blocked and back up into her stomach, which then causes her to throw up.  A lot.  The past couple weeks we’ve been trying again to slowly ween her off formula and onto rice milk.  The previous two times we tried the switch resulted in a bowel blockage, so we were trying a very slow introduction this time.  Well, it didn’t work.  So we’ve been dealing with a bit of puking the past few days while we get her sorted again.

So… on to idiot doctor story.  We were supposed to have an appointment with Dr.C today to have some assessments done for Vista to try and access some resources in the big city that aren’t available to us, living in a small town.  Half an hour before we were to leave, though, Vista started throwing up.  So I called the doctors office and apologized profusely saying “I’m so sorry.  I know this is short notice, but Vista is throwing up, so there’s no way I can make the hour drive into the city.”

No big deal, right?  Yeah, you would think.  Well receptionist puts me on hold and Dr. C gets on the phone.  I start explaining how sorry I am that I can’t make it in.  But driving with a puking two-year-old is out of the question.  The doc quickly cut me off and what she said next made my blood run cold.

“I don’t think you understand the importance of this appointment.  If you miss this appointment no one is going to want to help you.  And quite frankly, I am deeply, deeply concerned.  It is critical that you make this appointment today”

<insert me trying, once again, to explain the logistics of a one hour drive in a hot truck with a puking child>

“You have a decision to make.  If you decide not to attend this appointment, then I have no choice but to discuss this with **** {the other person we were meeting with to discuss available resources for Vista} and I really feel we’ll have to contact Children’s Services about this.”

<insert me spluttering going ‘Excuse me???? Children’s Services???  For WHAT???>

“You are obviously in denial and I am deeply, deeply concerned.  If you decide not to make this appointment then it shows your refusal to get help for you and your daughter and I feel that Children’s Services will need to be informed”

She signed off the call by telling me that there would be a $50 cancellation fee and would I like to be invoiced for that.

I hung up the phone and promptly started sobbing hysterically.  She was going to call Children’s Services on me??  WTF?  Was I not the mother that stayed by her child’s bedside every night in the hospital?  In fact I’ve never spent more than 6 hours (and never a full night) away from my daughter.  Was I not the mom who pushed the doctors to properly diagnose and treat my daughter’s reflux?  Am I not the mom who’s spent the past year working with specialist of every size, shape, and description working to make sure that all Vista’s milestones are met due to her developmental delays?  Am I not the one who pushed and pushed and finally got an MRI ordered that proved we were right in our suspicion that she had some brain issue causing her delays.  Yeah… And yet you want to call Children’s Services on me?  FOR WHAT?  Fuck you bitch.

We’ve had just recently started the process of switching to a new doctor  (an easy 5minute drive, rather than an hour on the highway).  This new doctor is amazing.  We first met him in the NICU after Vista was born.  He was our favorite resident. So when he told us he was going be starting a family practice in our small town, we were elated.  Unfortunately, due to various factors, that took 2 years.  He’s still managed to see Vista a handful of times over the past two years, and is always great with her.  He also has a background in neuroscience, which is a huge plus for us now with her mid-line brain issues.

So after today’s phone call, I called his receptionist and explained what had happened with the other doc.   My mom came with me and watched V, while Dr. F took his lunch hour to sit down and chat with me about what had happened.  As soon as I mentioned that Vista had been throwing up, he stopped me and asked “Is she OK?  Do you want me to take a look at her?”  I must have looked surprised because his next question was “Didn’t the other doc ask if Vista was OK?”  I realized that at no time had my other doctor even inquired if Vista was alright.  She had absolutely no interest in anything other than us making that appointment.  The reason for this became abundantly clear when Bil called old doc and told her to transfer all our files to Dr.F and the first thing the bitch starts in on is a schedule of fees.  It’s all about the money with her.  Nothing more.

Dr. F listened, took notes, and assured me that I had nothing to worry about.  He had watched Bil and I advocate for Vista in a variety of arenas over the past two years.  If anyone called me from Children’s services I was to direct the call to his office and he would take care of it.  It was so amazing to feel listened to.  Once we were done he walked with me out into the waiting room.  Mom and Vista had gone out to walk around so he grabbed his shoes and told the other patient in the waiting room “Sorry, I’ll be right back.  There’s a little girl I have to say hi to”.  Once we found them, he immediately knelt down to Vista’s level and started talking to her about the flowers she had picked (I don’t even want to know from where) and how pretty they smelled and how they matched her shoes.  He is just such an amazing doctor and we feel so lucky to have found him.

Two doctors. The same medical program from the same university.  One is all about the money.  The other is all about the patients.  Take a guess  who will never see a red cent from me or anyone I know.

*addendum: I’m really, strongly considering filing a formal complaint with our Health Region.  I feel this doctor tried to bully me into an appointment when it was not in the best interest of my child.  Threatening a mother with Children’s Services is just low.  And slimy.  And something no RESPECTABLE doctor would do. *

Judging Those Who Judge

We live in a small town.  It’s a fairly close knit community where if you don’t know someone directly, you probably know someone who does.

Being in a small town though sometimes means coming face-to-face with narrow minded thinking.  When I lived in the big city and came across people like that, I could scratch them off my ‘get to know’ list, and move on to other people and places.  In a small town that’s not always so easy.  Because if I do what I’d really like to do and tell someone exactly what I think of them, it’ll probably come back to bite me.

I take Vista to a physiotherapy group session every other week.  It’s supposed to be a good chance to chat with other parents who’s children are facing similar challenges and an opportunity for the kids to work on their gross motor skills and sensory integration issues.  Which is great in theory.  And the physiotherapist is really nice.  So are the other therapists and early intervention workers who come to work with the kids.  The problem is the other moms.

They’re complete bitches.

There.  I said it.

Oh, I know… you’re thinking “Well, Jenn…perhaps it’s not them that’s the problem?”.  Yeah.  I was wondering the same thing until an incident a couple of weeks ago.  But let me back up here…

The very first time I took Vista to this group, I hadn’t even had time to take off my shoes at the door before the other mom’s had sent one of their group to tell me to leave.  I wish I was exaggerating.  After I explained that the PT had invited us to be there, her only response was:

“Oh.  Well.  The other mom’s didn’t think you belonged here so asked me to come tell you to leave… but I guess if the PT invited you…”

Yeah.  I know.  Charming.

I figured it would get better after they knew we were supposed to be there.  It didn’t.  I found out why when one of the other moms came up to me after we’d been going to this group for a while.

Other Mom: “So, what are you doing here”

Me: “Pardon?”

OM: “Why are you coming to this group?”

Me: “Because the PT felt it would be beneficial for Vista to attend.”

OM: “OK.  But what’s wrong with her?  She looks fine to me.  I just don’t think you guys really belong here.”

And so we got to the crux of the matter.  Vista ‘looked’ too normal for their tastes.

vback Judging Those Who JudgeA couple weeks later, the PT having got wind of this conversation, took all the mom’s into a back room and had us talk about our kids.  The other mom’s were more than a little surprised to find out that we face some of the same challenges with Vista as they do with their children.  We had a long discussion about ‘not judging a book by it’s cover’ and how some issues aren’t always immediately visible unless you know what to look for.  Vista, for example, can walk, but has balance issues and locks her legs for balance rather than using core muscles.  This create problems with running or jumping.  She also has midline issues where she favors one side of her body over the other.  But all the other mom’s could see is: She’s walking, so she’s fine.

They were still cool towards me, until the week we got Vista’s MRI results back.  When I shared that we had found out that she was missing a membrane in her brain and the other MRI findings, all of the sudden I had a new group of best friends and I was instantly accepted.  I was stunned.  Vista was still the same little girl she was the day she walked into that group, but now that she had something verifiable wrong…well…that changed everything.

Ever the optimist I thought perhaps the mom’s had learned not to judge to quickly.  I was quickly proven wrong.

The next week a woman from the local Hutterite colony came with her daughter.  When we arrived I saw her sitting off to the side on her own, so went over to chat with her.  She was incredibly sweet and her daughter – adorable! But the other moms, true to form, didn’t even acknowledge her or speak to her.  She told me the other day that she’s decided not to return to the group.  And it’s not like I don’t understand why.  It just makes me sad.

And in a small town, there are no other alternatives.  Either you go to this group, or none at all.

So as much as I love my small town life… sometimes the people who go with it really suck.

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