Journey Through My Time Machine

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So my posts are going to seem a little……dated! I feel that it makes the most sense to start at the beginning, to know a bit of my background and learn when my life changed for the better – when I became a mommy for the first time. ¬†However, that was 19+ years ago, so….. let’s take a little journey in my time machine…..back to 1996 when my baby girl “V” was brought into this world.

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I should have known the rest of my life would be an adventure – my kids and I can’t seem to do anything the “easy” way ūüėČ

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Liar Liar Pants on Fire!

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Whoever said writing a blog was easy Рwas a liar!  I have been trying to sum up my life and bring you up to speed with my journey so that other can see they are not alone in their struggles.  Not only that, but so that you understand who I am as a Mom, a woman and a person Рand how we came to be where we are today.  This process has been seemingly impossible, however.  I am struggling to update here consistently, and some of the details are now lost in time.  I am going to do my best to summarize the last 2.5 years in one or 2 posts.

As M entered Kindergarten, he became increasingly anxious and (seemingly) angry. ¬†He would run away, knock over book shelves and just get REALLY upset if things were out of sorts. ¬†He had an AMAZING teacher. ¬†She was able to develop a very close bond with him and figured out a way to help control his environment so HE didn’t feel out of control.

Miss H was in the school daycare and was given a support worker. She also developed an amazing bond with her and was able to integrate H into group activities and control her outbursts as well. ¬†While H can be very social and outgoing, she seems to prefer the company of herself….

We continued to have issues throughout the year and met with the Behavioural Intervention Team at the school.  We would be working closely with them to see how we could best help my children adapt to their new environments.

Even with all of their trials throughout the year look at how happy they are at graduation Kindergarten for M and Pre-school for H).

A, B, C’s and 1, 2, 3’s…..and M’s and O’s and R’s and 10’s and 20’s and 30’s…..

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Anxiety, ADHD, Abilify, Biphentin, Concerta, mood disorder, ODD, Prozac, Respiridone, SPD…2mg, 10mg, 20mg, 30mg, 36mg, 45mg……

I’m sure some of you recognize those ABCs and 123s of ADHD and the like. ¬†It has become common verbiage in my life.

While I don’t regret medicating my children AT ALL, the side effects and ups and downs are so disconcerting. Medication has allowed my children to thrive in school, have socially acceptable behaviours and conversations and to be happy for the most part. ¬†But when their little bodies become acclimatized to the doses, or when certain side effects like HUGE weight gain or mood swings happen – it’s scary and exhausting for ALL parties. ¬†I waited as long as possible and exhausted all options before beginning the cycle of medications, and we still aren’t where we need to be.

Counselling, behavioural intervention plans, resource, clinics, psychiatrists….more common place terminology.

After years of trying to figure out what was “wrong”, how do I “fix” it, am I a “bad parent”, I finally came to realize none of the above have answers. ¬†While there have been “diagnosis” and “treatments” and “parenting classes”, we will ALWAYS have to work harder to just BE.

Because of their compound issues, doctors appointments, school meetings, counseling etc., it is impossible for me to hold a traditional full-time job. ¬†That, and the stress from the illnesses, missing work, financial strain etc., actually made me physically ill to the point I was in the emergency room several times and had several procedures done to try to find the cause. ¬†IT WAS STRESS.6b3fe97d5531e72826726979a1d99ac4-300x300¬†This is why I started this blog. ¬†To tell my story and to GET PEOPLE TALKING. ¬†Depression, anxiety and mental illness/mood disorders are NOT JUST adult issues. ¬†Children suffer too. And it can get BAD. ¬†Self-care of the parents/care-givers DURING these times is SO important!! You need time to recoup, recharge, rest and HEAL. If you don’t, you WILL get sick. Then who will take care of your babies??¬†64074-quotes-about-self-care

Enter my self-care journey………

The Tie that Binds

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When your life begins to unravel….when you can see your children slowly becoming¬†unhappy, enraged¬†and just¬†SAD….when you feel like you are at the end of your Motherly rope – all you do is try DESPERATELY to continue to try to be the tie that binds.

As I alluded to at the end of my previous post, my children were becoming out of control. ¬†It escalated so quickly (or so I thought) that they were even “kicked out” of their daycare!! I was appalled!! WHAT type of daycare cannot handle 4 and 5 year olds?? I mean SERIOUSLY! At this point I had been a mother for 17+ years and ALL of my children had been in care since before their 1st birthdays and I never had an issue with any of them. According to the employees – “M” would take off and run. Bolt at the 1st sign that he would be facing consequences for whatever actions had previously occurred. And he was FAST. He and another child (the same one from the bus) would also wreak havoc and completely ignore all workers, then get all of the younger ones going as well….at 5. ¬†“H” would apparently throw huge tantrums and knock over book shelves and kick and scratch and bite! Behaviour I had NEVER seen previously! (Behaviour that at this point was also not being seen at school).

“WHAT THE HELL DID THEY DO TO MY KIDS?!?”¬†was my first thought, the second was¬†“WHERE THE HELL DID YOU LEARN TO LOOK AFTER KIDS?!”.

Even today, knowing what I know, I still hate that centre. ¬†I learned that they had a VERY high ratio of “behaviourally challenged” kids and a very LOW ratio of properly trained ECE IIs! They also didn’t implement things they were taught via workshops, so I DO feel they held some responsibility in the way my children acted.

That started the next roller coaster ride! NO CHILDCARE FOR A WORKING MOM OF THREE! The frantic search resumed for childcare!! Calls and emails, pleading and begging…..nothing in our catchment. ¬†The school the next catchment over was full, daycare in that area wouldn’t transport to school and busing wasn’t available……can you FEEL my stress through this post??? I can feel my blood pressure rising re-living it in this post!! LOL!

With the help of the daycare coordinator, I found a space for “H” in a pre-school age program, but it was based in a school quite a distance away, and there was no space for “M”. ¬†Plus we weren’t sure the school had room for an out of catchment student anyway…. Well we had no choice but to take the space for “H” and start praying hard that something came up for “M” – and fast!

Oh and there was still another kicker in this story – I had an ACL repair surgery coming up! Guess who would be immobile for the next 4-6 weeks – OVER Christmas? THIS LADY!

During this time, we were blessed with an AMAZING Principal at “M”‘s school who graciously transported him to and from school for me while I was on medical leave, and Miss “H” stayed with Dad who transported her to and from daycare with short visits in between.

I DID receive some great news – the school WOULD accept “M” out of catchment so he and “H” would be in the same location, unfortunately still no space in the centre. This meant PT hours after recovery to transport to and from school until care was found.

This was a VERY rough time for everyone. ¬†“M” had to change schools mid-term, KNEW he had been “kicked out” of daycare and that things were stressful for everyone. ¬†It’s no wonder things got worse…….much worse…….

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Revelation

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I know I have been focusing on my journey and some of the issues I had been dealing with regarding “V”. ¬†That isn’t to say there weren’t ones with my babies – It is just hard to keep my blog posts concise.

I am going to finally admit I had a REVELATION! My kids are NOT perfect. WHAT?! I know, right?!

But in all seriousness, I was oblivious to many issues that they had been exhibiting – chalking a lot up to being a girl, being a boy, high energy, just a princess, it’s from all of the changes, etc; etc. ¬†And to be fair to myself, I was never made aware of the seriousness of some of the issues while they were in care until very recently. The daycare handled the situation because they were trained in how to, and left it at that. Hindsight is always 20/20 though, isn’t it?

I did touch briefly on some issues in my post titled:¬†“2011/2012 – The Whirlwind Year”¬†but not enough to really bring out the severity of the issues.

When we moved, that meant a change in child care as well as “M” would be starting school the following fall. ¬†This was a very arduous task as child care here in Winnipeg, especially SUBSIDIZED childcare, is very hard to come by, and I really wanted the kids to stay together. After MUCH emailing, cold calling, utilizing my MLA, Daycare coordinators and social media use, I FINALLY found a daycare – a centre that could take BOTH kids and transport “M” to school!

The daycare wasn’t my “ideal” centre. ¬†It was definitely a downgrade from their current one, and was located in a not so favourable location. ¬†But the staff seemed nice and competent….*ahem*.

I don’t remember any “issues” at the centre before the renovations began. ¬†In fact, they seemed to enjoy it there. Miss “H” took to her favorite girls, and kept mostly to herself. ¬†“M” was his usual social self. ¬†But they received a grant to renovate and the kids were all whisked away to a church basement – and then all hell broke loose, so to speak….and this is really where things began to unravel……

 

Welcome to the Letter “A”

Assault, Appendicitis, Anxiety and Antidepressants…That pretty much summed up our 1st September in our new home. ¬†Pretty “awesome”, hey?

The assault happened in our old neighbourhood, which ended the commute for my daughter to continue attending her highschool there.  She was attacked by an intoxicated woman of my age while she waited in a bus shelter to catch a bus home Рover not having a cigarette to give her (non-smoker).  She suffered quite a severe concussion.  They never caught the assailant.

Less than 3 weeks later I received a call from her at work telling me that she is in severe stomach pain. ¬†I took her into the nearest hospital (the 1st time) and after waiting for 6 hours left. ¬†The next morning I took her to the Children’s Hospital, we find out she has appendicitis and she is admitted and scheduled for an appendectomy.

YIKES!!! This definitely wasn’t the “new start” I was hoping for!!!!

So “V” had started at the local Highschool (just prior to her appendectomy) and the school is less than a 10 minute walk from our house. I was so much more comfortable with that over the commute by bus to our old neighbourhood of course! ¬†Unfortunately, with the good also comes some bad…..

I found out “V” was continuing to indulge in the Mary-Jane (yes¬†– my drug use suspicions had been confirmed by way of a suspension from school prior to our move – and my first cell phone ticket as well!). ¬†So, in order to curb her destructive behaviour, we took a trip to see her pediatrician where she was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. ¬†Some other scary, personal information came out as well regarding “V” and self-harm and her reason for her drug use. We elected to go to counseling through MATC¬†– well I decided for the both of us. ¬†“V” was prescribed Prozac but hated the medication and side effects so I didn’t force the issue as we were attending MATC regularly. ¬†At the time she hated the meetings, but in the long run, it opened up our lines of communication and our relationship is stronger than ever.

“V” has grown into an amazing, strong, beautiful young woman and I could not be more proud of her! ¬†She makes me proud to be her Mom and continues to make ME WANT TO BE A BETTER PERSON EVERY DAY.

I want to share this.  This is an excerpt from her IG account:

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I’m not usually someone who opens up or likes to share personal stuff with the world. But seeing as how lots of people often ask ‘what does your tattoo mean to you’, and everyone does have a special meaning behind their own tattoo, I thought id explain to everyone at once what mines about. I’m doing it because the one thing I’ve learnt in the past year is, honesty is the most important thing. No matter what. You find out who your real friends are through honesty, even which family is worth allowing to take part in your life, some don’t always appreciate it and some really do. But honesty is something I’ve began to appreciate myself. The feather breaking off into the birds is essentially like a new beginning, almost like a sense of freedom. The past few years I wasn’t putting myself in the best places, I made some silly choices, drugs, self harm, etc. my mom found out and it’s actually because of her that today I’m healthy, clean from everything and I honestly believe she’s the reason I’m still here. She helped me climb out of what felt like the deepest hole. She really did help me through it every step of the way. Not a lot of people actually know any of that, just a few. Today, I rarely go out, and I honestly have taken a different route. The feather was me at my worst time, and the birds are parts of me breaking free and onto new beginnings. This tattoo as my first tattoo is the most honest and pure thing in my life. And I’m sharing it with you. All I can say is, anyone in a dark place you’ll get through it, I know that’s so clich√© and easier said than done. But honestly don’t ever be afraid to share what’s going on with someone because I guarantee they’re open to guiding you towards helping you through it and essentially freeing yourself. You have to learn to love yourself and always remember you’re something worth climbing out of the darkest holes for. ~”V”

**If you need help please contact your doctor. There are also resources for Manitoba here: http://www.ementalhealth.ca/Winnipeg-Regional-Health-Authority/FindHelp/index.php?m=findHelp

Please Update Your Address Book….

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My life got weird – fast, lol. ¬†As ‘foretold’ in my previous post – sure enough there were recommendations from my Broker….good ones, but still.

I sat and talked with my Real Estate agent and we decided to put in an offer on the last day Рat asking price.  She told me to trust her, so I did.

Man – I was sick and scared shitless. ¬†I had been outbid on EVERYTHING and that was going ABOVE asking. ¬†But she knew something I didn’t……

I was the ONLY offer on the house – and they HAD to accept!! I don’t know HOW or WHY (the house isn’t perfect, but it is sound and has zero issues), this happened, but it did – and suddenly – I WAS A HOME OWNER AGAIN!!!! YIPPEE!!!!!!

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Our new family home ‚̧

I am STILL in awe as to how we acquired the house. ¬†My Grandfather’s photo sits on our fireplace mantel. ¬†I believe he was instrumental in us getting our home – it just should NOT have occurred how it did! ¬†We are feeling truly blessed right now!

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So now it was time to move again! Things weren’t all fun and games at home – my eldest “refused” to switch schools, so we agreed she could commute as long as she got there, and I had to book time off of work during a time while everyone wants holidays! ¬†Thankfully we had the house for almost a full month so we were able to move in slowly – I truly believe this is will be the best thing for my family!

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The Hunt Is On!

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So in my previous post I mentioned that a HUGE new change was happening in my life ‚Äď and that was that I was going to become a home owner again.¬† This was even more exciting as I was doing it on my own (well kind of ‚Äď the down payment was loaned by someone near and dear to me) but my ‚Äúown‚ÄĚ as a single Mom.

I knew that I wanted to move to the west side of the city as that is where my Mom and sister lived ‚Äď they are both my anchors.¬† I honestly don‚Äôt know where I would be in life without them.¬† The issue here is, is that this is also one of the more expensive areas to buy a home in. And with 3 kids, one being a teenager, and a little dog I needed space.

OOPS! Did I forget to mention our new addition?¬† We rescued a little Chug named Max.¬† The poor ‚Äúlittle‚ÄĚ guy was going to be put down and I just couldn‚Äôt allow it.¬† Although he was already 4 when we got him, it seems like he has always been with us.

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When Max first came to see us on the left and last summer on the right

So I started the hunt! I was so excited about the possibilities as I felt I had a decent budget ‚Äď but those thoughts were soon thwarted by crazy bids on the houses I wanted.¬† I was being out bid faster than I could blink :(.

Then I found it.

I saw a photo on the Real Estate site and I HAD to go and look.  It just seemed to call to me.

Although it was a 2 story, and I was looking for a bungalow, it had everything we needed. 3+1 bedrooms, a huge fenced yard with a play structure and an ISLAND OF MY DREAMS.¬† As I mentioned in this post, I make cakes on the side.¬† I had slowed down as they were becoming too overwhelming, but had picked it up again recently.¬† Plus I LOVED to cook ‚Äď and even to do crafts with the kids ‚Äď it was perfect.

Play Structure Island

The play structure in the backyard, and THE island. See those cupboards and drawers – those are on BOTH sides!! EEEEK! ‚̧

But the house was also priced upwards of my max budget, and the area it was in ‚Äď I¬†was very worried I would be out bid ‚Äď by a LOT.

Soo… this is where the fun part comes in that I mentioned in my previous post.¬† My gf was having a Pampered Chef‚ĄĘ and medium¬†party ‚Äď and I was attending.¬† I had never been, to either actually, but was most excited by the medium¬†part.¬† We saw a lovely lady named Lisa Scrivens ‚Äď she can be found her website¬†here or on Facebook¬†here.

I felt immediately at ease when I met her and our session began.¬† She asked my name and then asked a weird question.¬† She asked if I did Reiki.¬† (I did not ‚Äď but more to come on that at a later date).¬† She asked about me working in healthcare, which I do in a way; she knew it was not my dream job, but that I was content.¬† She followed with a tarot reading, and OMG. I mean she hit ALL OF THE NAILS ON THE HEAD. My past relationship, issues with my kids (which had escalated a bit), everything.¬† Then I was able¬†to ask a question ‚Äď and of course I did ‚Äď about the house I wanted.¬† The answer was simple: The person helping me was going to be asked to do some things by the broker.¬† Do them ‚Äď the house is yours.¬† Then my Grandfather came through with his old dog Shep, and for the first time in a long time, I felt sure of my future, and glad that I knew <for sure> who my son‚Äôs Guardian Angel was ūüėČ

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My Grandfather – my son’s Guardian Angel – missed dearly.

2011/2012 – The Whirlwind Year

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When a couple separates after half a decade+, you really find out who your friends are.  They take sides, stop calling, come out of the woodwork to help, call to see if you are ok Рor start dating your ex.

It was when the latter happened when my life changed drastically. ¬†My depression has been under control for the most part for years, and suddenly I was spiraling into a really dark place. ¬†I tried to hide it – after all I still had my teen to worry about, who was exhibiting symptoms of drug use, my 2 babies that I had pretty much full time, a Foster Daughter I had taken in and a new job I had just started when I moved back to the city. ¬†But I wasn’t doing well – at all. ¬†I was either drinking more at a gfs house, or out with her¬†(on weekends that I didn’t have the wee ones), or I would lay in bed all weekend and read. ¬†And I cried – a lot. ¬†Not in front of anyone, again trying to hide everything, but still….. a lot.

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So back to the Dr I went, and back to counseling. ¬†My doctor upped my meds (doubled them in fact) and my counselor patiently listened to me crying about my ex, and my so called friend, and me questioning if we made the right choice separating, and was it best for the kids… etc etc…

When I was done, she looked at me and asked what I really remembered about my relationship. She said I seem to have this perfect house, with a white picket fence version in my head, and everything was mostly good (and she held her hand up high, like I revered that ‘memory’). Then she put her hand down and said – “Crystal – let that version go. ¬†That is NOT what it was like. I have been your counselor for years, and you two had issues from day 1. ¬†It’s like you are both addicted to each other – to the adrenaline of being mad all of the time. ¬†You need to find a way to be happy”.

And just like that – the darkness was gone. ¬†Not the sadness, not ALL of the guilt for what I have put my kids through – I still harbour some of that to this day – but that EMPTINESS. ¬†I don’t know how else to describe what I had been feeling other than pure emptiness until that point. She showed me, and again TOLD me, what I NEEDED to hear, point blank and blunt. ¬†Next step was making me and my kids happy again.

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My son had also been acting out Рthrowing tantrums and actually taking off, mostly at home but some at daycare Рso she directed me to a wonderful place called New Directions, which would help with my parenting skills.  She also advised me to try and get active Рendorphines are the best medicine!

My sister has become my best friend, and was so incredibly supportive through – well everything! Her and I decided to join Zumba! We found a Groupon‚ĄĘ and tried it out – LOVED IT!!!! This is who we went through:¬†http://winnipegzumba.com/, HIGHLY recommended!

Then she dropped the big one on me! She asked if I wanted to go to CUBA with her for a friends wedding – HELL YA! I had never traveled anywhere exotic, we worked our asses off at Zumba, my Mom agreed to watch my kids, and in April 2012 I took my 1st trip away – and it was AMAZING. ¬†Seriously – I fell in love and I can NOT wait to go back. ¬†Next trip will be with “V”!

Beautiful Veradero Cuba – no matter how much weight I had lost, the bikini shots don’t lie! Still had a way to go in my fitness journey.

When I got back, my FD’s worker informed me she would be leaving ūüė¶ and I also received a notice that my rent would be increasing – BOO! BUT this meant one other thing for this Mamabear – time to BUY HER OWN HOUSE!

And that is where I am going to leave this crazy year off….. there is so much to tell about the house hunt……it’s a neat story anyway – from the beyond…… :-O

Single Again………But Now With Experience

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So fast forward to almost 2 years in our home… and things aren’t so peachy.

There is stress between us (still going to counselling), stress with “M Sr’s” exes and stress between the boys and myself. ¬†I feel like I am slowly dying inside. I am not happy, I have gained a TON of weight and our children are REALLY unhappy – mostly the older ones, as they know what’s going on.

I treated ALL of the kids equally and as my own, I always had. ¬†This meant discipline as well. ¬†I would not tolerate back talk from anyone, and I was getting a LOT of it from “J” and zero support from “M Sr”. ¬†It was a HUGE stressor for me and one day my top finally blew. ¬†And that was it – we were done. ¬†I won’t go into specifics, but it wasn’t pretty (no one was injured and no abuse of any kind took place, let’s be clear on that).

During a previous session, our counselor had asked us something. ¬†I can’t remember now what it was, but I remember her response to ours, and that was: “You should not be together”. ¬†It was blunt and point blank. We should have listened.

As quickly as we moved in – we moved out. ¬†“M Sr” left first and I stayed with the house, my daughter and the babies. ¬†Once the house sold we all moved back to the city and started our lives over……..single again, but now with experience (and three kids).

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Left to right: Me (Mamabear), “M”, “H” and “V”

I had this piece commissioned by my cousin’s gf. ¬†She made it as per my requirements and I love it SO SO¬†much. ¬†To this day it reminds me of my WHY – my reason for BEING – and that is:

  • that I am a MOTHER to three GORGEOUS children
  • I am their leader in our journey called life. ¬†I have to show them the way, hopefully the RIGHT way,
  • this is also where¬†my new personal journey begins. One where I learn to love ME again; to find myself and get back to being healthy and happy (and hopefully before I’m 40)!