Kickstart My Heart

This morning I got a call from Carlos’s daycare that he had fallen backwards off a little ride-on, toy car and that he had smacked his the back of his head so hard on the wall that it triggered a nose bleed.

Needless to say I called Este immediately to pick him up and take him to emergency so that he could be checked out. Then I frantically called my Mom in a panic to pick me up from work so that I could meet Este at the hospital as I carpool to work so didn’t have my vehicle.

It is a horrible feeling when your child is hurt and you don’t know the extent of the injury. My anxiety was at an all
time high.

As my Mom and I drive out to the hospital she tried to distract me with conversation while I tried to keep a modicum of self control. I wanted to breakdown and cry out of nervousness and fear. But I didn’t. I picked my fingers and fidgeted until we arrived, thankfully, at the same time as Este and Carlos.

We were seen right away by the triage nurse and Carlos’s vital signs were assessed and his paperwork completed. When the doctor finally saw him she said that based on his behavior she didn’t believe he had a concision. I felt immense relief at that moment.

We discovered he had quite a bruise forming between his eyes and had some scrapes under his chin and on his jawline. It was determined he probably fell backwards and hit his head on the wall while the little car he was riding fell on his face, trigging the nose bleed.

The nurse gave me a printout on head injuries, which included a list of symptoms that indicated medical attention should be sought and a list of symptoms that warranted a visit to our GP or a walk-in clinic. I told her I would definitely be keeping that material in hand as Carlos is so incredibly clumsy and always bonking his head.

We were told to go home and take it easy for the rest of the afternoon as it was like my he had a wicked headache. So the two of us went home and watched Planes and cuddled on the couch.

He seems ok other than a little cranky. I, on the other hand, am exhausted from all of the worrying. I am currently curled up in bed ready to watch multiple episodes of The Mindy Project as a mental palate cleanser for the day!

Here’s my little man with a Penaten beard to help his exzema.

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O’Doyle Rules!

Two weeks ago Ali started strike camp instead of Kindy due to a bitter labour dispute between the BC Teachers Federation and the provincial government. This coincided with my first week at a new job so Este took over drop off duties while I remained the pick-up parent. On the third day of pick-up I walked into the building where Ali’s class was to the sound of shrieking. There are other classes happening simultaneously as  this camp is offered through our local rec center so I brushed the screaming off as a child in a younger class having a hard time. To my horror, as I walked into the room where Ali was I realised it was a boy in her class. This boy, let’s call him Ronan, was screaming a blood curdling scream I thought only reserved for injury or severe distress. Turns out it is also used for lego. He was whipping large lego pieces at other kids and then pounding his fists violently on the nearby table while continuing to scream a frothy, disturbing scream. All the while a poor, unprepared, camp counsellor in his early twenties was feebily trying to diffuse the situation with phrases like “Ronan, if you are going to behave like that you will have to put the lego down” and “Ronan, if you aren’t able to share you will have to sit over there” etc. This camp counsellor was clearly in waaaaay over his head.

As all of this is going on I see that Ali is kind of in the thick of things playing My Little Ponies with some other friends…totally unphased. I had the strongest fight or flight reaction as walked towards the epicenter of the chaos. The episode was so violent that I couldn’t get the fuck out of there fast enough. I collected Ali, her backpack and hightailed it to the car feeling all kinds of anxiety about her entering the public school system after seeing this display and hearing horror stories from teachers.

I continued to hear snippets over this past two weeks like “Ronan was not behaving and kicked someone” or “Ronan was having a bad behaving because he smacked someone in the face”. I would tell Ali how it is not nice to hurt people with your words or your body and that if she ever saw that happening she should tell a teacher right away. So as you can imagine I am not Ronan’s number one fan.

Imagine my surprise when I came to pick up Ali today and she and Ronan were playing. I could tell she was not herself and was in a very keyed up,  hair trigger type mood. I was in such a rush that I didn’t particularly pay attention to what they were playing so I didn’t think much about it…until dinner.

Ali: “Daddy? Can I tell you something? Me and Ronan were playing together today and we’re going to get married. I’m going to take Mommy’s car tonight to go to camp and Ronan is going to take his Daddy’s car to camp and we are going to get married. We’re going to kiss Daddy. Did you hear that Daddy, we’re going to kiss!”

Keep in mind that I am sitting directly across from Este and can see all of the different stages of emotions, in real time, as he is experiencing them. First he was attentive and listening and then when he realised it was the pyscho kid I had told him about his face dropped and once Ali started talking about kissing said psycho he got this “you will kiss no one” face  followed by a curt “hmm”.

Este: [looooooong pause] “No mi amor. El beso es para los gentes grandes.” (note: this is purely from memory so is probably a crude translation)

Her behaviour from the moment I picked her up until the time she went to bed was so out of character. She was combative, argumentative, whiny and almost manic at times. I know she is struggling with all of the changes of late but managing her moods and meltdowns has become increasingly more unenjoyable.

We have always joked that due to her latin fire it will be her boyfriends we will feel sorry for, not the other way around. I can only hope that she continues to develop a strong sense of self and cultivates a tight knit circle of friends that are a positive influence on her life. If not, I guarantee you I will be like Leslie Mann’s character in This is 40:

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It’s A Good Thing

About a month and a half ago a ladybug landed on my computer screen at work. At the time I was waiting not-so-patiently to hear back about a job I so desperately wanted so I took it as a sign of good things to come.

As I continued to work at my computer for the next hour, that little guy hung out on my screen and reminded me how everything is all in your perspective.

Things were happening and I felt it. There was a shift. I was on the precipice of something and I knew it was going to be great.

A few days later I got the call that I had been selected as the successful candidate for my dream job of right now (I say that because our dreams are always evolving therefore our dream jobs rarely remain static.). I really needed someone to take a chance on me in order to get this job and I knew in my bones if someone saw the raw potential in me and gave me that chance I would show them all I am capable of and more.

With this new position comes a validation of my professional self and the talents I possess, which in turn has given me an incredible boost in confidence.

Everyday I have moments where I actually can’t believe I get to do the work I am doing. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. I have never felt this creatively fulfilled in my professional life ever and it is totally invigorating.

The negative voice in me, the one we all have, is working overtime to derail this high. Even as I write this, it’s saying “don’t write that, no one one cares about your trivial feelings”. Ya, that nasty bitch of a voice.

Anyways, she’s been telling me things lately like “it’s only a matter of time before they figure out you’re a fraud” and “you’re going to get in trouble for doing the things you love – you’ll see” etc. And she’s real persistent too so it is a full time job putting her in her place. I do it, but just barely as there is a part of me that thinks that maybe she’s right.

This is all to say this is the internal war I wage even when times are good. It is the constant tap dance of managing those old patterns and self talk while trying to enjoy the good in my life.

But for now, it is nine o’clock at night and I don’t have the work dreads…not even remotely. In the words of Martha Stewart, it’s a good thing.

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Wax On Wax Off

My poor Ali walked right through the front door tonight and straight into her room.

Ali: “Mom, can I go right into my bed? I am so tired.”

She was asleep within five minutes.

Carlos and I unloaded the car and prepared to have a delicious no-brained meal of Olivieri Three Cheese Tortellini and pesto sauce. Somewhat of a comfort food staple in our house.

While I was boiling the pasta I noticed quite a few had green stuff in them. I pulled the package out of the garbage to check that it wasn’t cheese and spinach, which it wasn’t, and to confirm it wasn’t past it’s due date. August 7. So we’re fine there but it was definitely mold. I called Thrifty’s to let them know and they were so nice, apologizing profusely and advising me to bring in my receipt for a refund.

All well and good but dinner is botched and Carlitos has already seen me pour the pasta into the strainer. Fuck.

Carlos: “Tortanini Mama? Pasthta?”

Me: “It’s moldy my love – do you want a hummus sandwich?”

Carlos: “Ya! A sammich!”

I know, hummus sandwiches…my kids are weird in their likes and dislikes (Ali only likes “smushed” tomatoes right now). I shudder every time I send them to school with hummus sandwiches thinking of the epic burps and farts their teachers have to endure and I know this to be true because I have been on the receiving end.

After our gourmet dinner of hummus sandwiches an leftover veggies from the night before, it is time to bath Carlos and begin the looooong journey of putting him to bed.

Carlos’s big things right now are asking what things are, what they are doing and repeating that line of questioning incessantly.

Carlos: “Whatsth thisth Mama?” (Pointing to the pin for the shower)

Me: “That’s for the shower. It redirects the water from the faucet to the shower head.”

Carlos: “Whatsth it doing Mama?”

Me: “Well, nothing really. It’s just kind of there.”

Aaaand rinse and repeat.

Carlos: “Whatsth thisth Mama?” (Pointing to the pin for the shower)

Me: “It’s for the shower. When you pull it the water comes out of the shower head.”

Carlos: “Whatsth it doing Mama?”

Me: “It’s sleeping.”

I felt like Louis C.K. but honestly after answering something five different ways you start to lose your creativity!

I have to bribe him every night to get out of the bath with a digger video or else he would stay in there for hours until he was a wizened little prune.

After I have troweled him off, put his diaper on, given him his three different meds and wrangled him into his jammies it is time to do the slowly slowly to slumberville. To which every night I am met with new and creative attempts at procrastination. Sleep? Sleep is for suckers and he isn’t having any of it.

After lots of stories, songs, chats, youtube videos of animals and snuggles I throw in the towel and leave him to out himself to sleep.

It was at this point Ali came barreling out if her room all flushed cheeks and crying.

Ali: “I donnnnnnn’t feeeeeeel wellllll.” [sobbing] “My neck hurts.” [more sobbing]

When I feel her glands they are definitely swollen and then when I look in her throat it is like two golf balls again. Sure enough I take her temperature and she has a fever.

I get her some Advil, a Popsicle and set up a movie on the iPad for her to watch in her bed. The crowning glory in my fever toolkit is the jaw bra from my surgery. Este rigged it up last weekend when she had a fever and it looks like a cross between Ralph Macchio’s bandana from the Karate Kid and Axl Rose’s bandana from the Sweet Child O’ Mine video. It is awesome.

It is strange. When I was a kid if you had strep throat or swollen glands often they would just remove your tonsils. They don’t seem to do that anymore and I am not sure why.

Anyhoo, it is 8 pm and one of my monkeys is asleep and the other is curled up beside me like a heat seeking missile.

Just a typical Thursday night :)

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Carlos del Luchador: A Case Of The Wednesday Night Crazies

Holy shit. Does anyone else’s kids go nuts on week nights? I get that everything is rushed and you are trying to cram in fifty things within a two hour window, but Jesus Christ!

I picked up the kids from daycare at five o’clock and the drive home was like every other; it started out all fun with lots of laughing and giggling and then turned sour about two blocks from our house.

Ali: “Mom! Carlos has my big this and won’t give it back!”

I turn to look and sure enough Carlos has big this wrapped around his head like a turbin and is laughing uncontrollably with his signature mischievious giggle accompanied by his crinkled nose. It is next to impossible for me not to laugh.

Me: “Carlitos, give Ali back her big this.”

Carlos: “No Mama – no want it!”

Finally Ali just snatches big this back and the two of them continue to yell, cry, laugh and scream. By the time we pull into the driveway my nerves are already shot.

I unload lunches, jackets, kids and head into the kitchen to get lunches made and dinner going. Typically I will put on some music and the kids will play while I cook dinner. Tonight is no different. As I am sauteeing veggies Ali and Carlos are playing on this little couch that Este bought when he was 18 to play video games. You know the kind that are foam and fold out into a make-shift bed? It is covered in that hideous celestial patterned fabric that is navy blue with yellow stars and moons all over it. I just want to throw on Women and Songs cd, light a sage smudge stick and buy some tickets to Lilith Fair – it is like the ’90′s threw up all over it. The kids like to unfold it, climb in and fold it back up on top of them. They call it “camping” – don’t ask me why.

While they were playing a rousing game of “camping”, Ali with her big this and Carlos with his stuffed puppy, I hear quite a commotion brewing from beneath the folded couch.

Carlos: “No Addie! My puppy! My pupppppppppy! MINE!!!!!!!!”

Ali: “I’m just playing with it Carlos. You took my big this in the car, remember?”

At this point in time Ali is smarter than Carlos but he is WAY more physical and will solve his problems with her by brute force. Cut to thirty seconds later when he has stood up, out of the cocoon of the couch and totally tackled her with all of his might. It was like a scene out of WWE where I thought he may break out a metal folding chair to follow-up the tackle if the puppy was not returned to him. He is yelling, Ali is crying, my fucking veggies smell like burnt garlic because I have abondoned them to deal with this melee and it is not even six o’clock yet. This is one of the many reasons I opt for sandwhiches or “tapas” for dinner most nights.

After dinner, in which I stupidly included rice, it was time to clean up and bathe the kids. Any parent of kids under the age of five will know exactly what I mean when I say I curse myself every time I serve rice as I remember just as the first fistful is landing on the floor what a fucking nightmare it is to clean up. It is like the herpes of the kitchen, you can never get rid of it.

After I spent ten minutes picking starchy, smushed rice grains of the floor I decided I just couldn’t face bathing the kids. So I did what any responsible parent would do and I wiped them down with baby wipes and put on their jammies. Ali was asleep within in five minutes and Carlos put up his usual fight.

As I was lying beside him, he decided it would be infinitely funny to grab my nose and twist it extremely hard. This provided him with endless amusement and anger was met with peals of laughter. After the requesite “fuckkkkkk” which, I am shocked he didn’t repeat as he is a total parrot these days, I was done with cuddles and left him to put himself to sleep. There is nothing like two watering eyes and a stinging nose to raise just enough irritation for you to abandon your maternal instincts and leave your kid to cry it out. Just as I was leaving his room he hit me hard with a good one…

Carlos: “Mama? A snuggle?”

Carlos still has a tongue-tie so has a slight lisp which makes anything said with an “s” sound ridiculously cute. As my mother-in-law says, he pronounces things perfectly as if he was from Barthelona. I digress.

The long and the short of it is, that monkey coaxed me back into lying beside him as he stroked my face with his little hand and nuzzled his head into mine before he fell asleep.

God damn it I love my kids. They drive me crazy, but they are mine :)

Now for a few hours of peace and quiet before I am woken up by Carlos multiple times tonight because he has misplaced his choochi.

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That Time When You Realize You Are A Blogger Who Doesn’t Blog

*Siiiiiiiiiigh*

It’s been a long time since my last post, about five months long. This has been one of the hardest years of my life; in some ways I faced it head on and in others I buried my head in the sand. One of the things I love about blogging is the freedom to be completely honest about the things that are going on in my life. The trouble is, when you are working through a mountain of shit the posts aren’t that appealing.

I sat down to my computer many times over this past year, attempting to write, but was met with hesitation as I didn’t want to share my struggles until I was sure I was well on the other side. I am happy to say I am on the flip side of horrible and ready to talk about my journey.

One year ago, to the month, I returned to work from Maternity Leave. As I have widely documented in this blog, the year was fraught with many absences from work, trips to emergency and multiple prescriptions for my Carlitos; culminating in a chronic asthma diagnosis from a Pediatric Asthma specialist this past March. All of the spheres of my life seemed to impload at once, at a time when I had just transitioned off of anti depressants. This was an incredibly dark time for me. I have talked only to my counsellor and a select few about the depths of my dispair and how I was so scared my emotions would betray me and lead me to the point of no return. Let me be clear, I did not ever want to commit suicide but I felt so suffocated by my depression and anxiety that I was terrified of arriving at that place.

I have never shared this with my husband or my closest family members. That is the power the stigma surrounding mental illness holds.

During this time of intense depression my best friend B, would check in on me everyday. We share a common messaging system at work so she would be sure to touch base multiple times a day to see where I was at. On weekends she would ensure she made plans with me at least one of the days so that I wouldn’t retreat deeper into the darkness. It was B who encouraged me along the way to seek counselling, supported me in my determination to take better care of myself and who created the safety between us for me to feel free to talk about the things that tormented my heart and mind.

To make matters even more complicated I had jaw surgery right smack dab in the middle of this emotional clusterfuck. In a way, it was a distraction; a surgery where my jaw was broken and advanced using a bone graft from my hip. Just to give you an idea of how bad I was feeling that this was a welcome diversion.

I was desperate to shed the shackles of my feelings so I got to work.

My focus shifted to recovery. I went to my specialist appointments, followed the protocol and developed a routine that involved way too much soup. In fact, if I ever have to look at a fucking Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup can again I might pitch it out the window!

I had started to lose weight from eating shitty canned soups and Nutribullet smoothies for weeks after the surgery and decided that joining Weight Watchers was the next step on my road emotional recovery. In the midst of my personal turmoil I had put on forty pounds. It was the personification of all the negativity going on inside me, projected on the outside. I attended Weight Watchers meetings once a week and tracked my calories. Routine is extremely important for me and I viewed the program not as a diet but as self care. I told myself: I am worth the effort it takes to live a healthy life.

It is a funny thing when you lose a lot of weight. Two things happen: you feel emotionally lighter and you become visible to the world again.

Over the next few months I continued to go to Weight Watchers, meditate, write in a gratitude journal and work hard at keeping my anxiety at a manageble level. II will tell you one thing: it is exhausting and hard fucking work living a healthy life.

So here we are. One year later. What’s changed besides my smile and the number on the scale? Well, I would love to tell you that everything is fantastic and that my problems are solved but that wouldn’t be truthful or realistic.

The truth is, I am in a lot better place emotionally. I have maintained my weight for five months and the spheres of my life that had imploded previously are actually thriving. Being mindful of the things I need to remain healthy and happy is a full-time job. Some weeks I am better than others at certain aspects of self care and other weeks I totally fall down. I am a work in progress. No one is more aware than I am that it is all so tenuous.

It is incredibly easy for me to backslide on what is proven to be positive for me; it is my pattern. I try to gently remind myself when I get lazy and don’t write in my journal because I am tired or go to bed late because it is easier to watch tv than to go to bed early that skipping these things eventually becomes detrimental to my health.

It is a balancing act in which I am constantly learning the ropes.

I am glad to be back here, sharing the shit that counts.

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