Waiting on Good-bye

I am sitting here right now literally watching the hours tick by before my beloved Adah-Jane takes her last breath and I think I might being dying a little too. I am waiting on Good-bye and this is terrible.  But wait…everyone dies right?  At some point we will all have to say Good-bye. I should know that. End stage lymphoma or not people and puppy-dogs don’t live forever. My actual job is to hold the hands of people as they take their last breath. I get paid money to do that…I CHOOSE to do that. Sometimes my touch and my voice are the only good-bye they get. I provide comfort and compassion to the hysterical and terrified family members while pushing more pain medication through a SC butterfly. I break up fights between POA #1 and POA #2 about Mom’s money and belongings while poor Mom is laying in bed right beside them. (Just so you know…they CAN still hear you and it DOES bother them so take it outside mmmk??) I offer counselling and support throughout the whole process and then be there to the bitter end when the funeral director arrives to collect the empty shell that was once a human: my job ends and his begins. It’s kinda sick how his job depends on mine. I do this every single day….so why is this so hard? Is because for once there is no guessing game at when the end will be? Is it because of the career I have the disadvantage of knowing exactly what’s happening inside her furry cancer riddled body right now? Is it because when an elderly person passes on I know they have lived a full life and death is just the next step…but this is not fair: she’s only 8…she’s still a puppy. Or is because truth be told…I love my dog and watching her like this: afraid that she might be suffering and knowing that even if she was she wouldn’t let on lest I be sad? Whatever the reason, this is awful. Half of me wishes she would fall asleep and not wake up so I wouldn’t have to put her in the car one last time and walk her in the door of the vet one last time and then I wouldn’t have to know that after it’s over, after she’s gone…we will have to turn around and leave for home one last time without her. I don’t want to wait on good-bye. I don’t want good-bye to come at all.

How I Avoid Burning Out

As I mentioned in the last post –  life is crazy. I think this is true for pretty much everyone who has family, work and a social calendar. Finding a “balance” in all this craziness is a task that is not so simple to say the least. In order for this insanity to carry on – in order for my family not to fall to pieces in the process we had to work together to come up with a “plan” that worked for us all. Truthfully Jay and I did most of the deciding about said plan: but we really paid attention the the needs of the kids when laying it all out. We thought about what was important to them? What, when they look back on  their time at home with Ma and PA, do we want them to be able to take from this lifestyle? What are we willing to give up to allow them more of our “time” – because in the end truly the best gift we can give them is our time and if we work so hard to make a good life for them but don’t enjoy it with them…what’s the point?.  So far it’s been working. Sure we’ve tweaked it here and there to adapt to everyday occurrences as well as realizing as we asked our kids to take on more responsibilities they became more mature and thus allowed us a few more leniences.

A few key pieces of our plan:

Everyone has a job to do. Dishes need done. Laundry needs folded (I know…up until now you thought laundry was a magical entity that just appears folded nicely and smelling lovely in the drawers. It’s a shock…I’ll give you a minute to absorb it) Pets need fed and walked and brushed and loved. Basically: All the things need doing and somebody has got to do them and that someone sure can’t be the grown-ups all the time. We the grown-ups respect that this sucks and that is why we pay you an allowance.

Everybody helps everybody else. There is no such thing as “I didn’t do it/use it/or take it out”. If it’s not in it’s home: put it in it’s home. Which leads us  to…

Everything has a home.  Absolutely EVERYTHING has a home. If we can’t find something a home then we don’t have room for it. Also: All the things belong in their home because when I need the thing I don’t have time to go looking for the thing.

Mealtimes are a family event. If you are home and awake (awake was added cause night shift Mama isn’t always awake and I promise not to wake my family up from their well deserved slumber at 5am to join me for a hastily made bowl of cereal before I head out for a day shift) you are eating with us. We will cook together. We will eat together. We will talk and laugh and be silly ( no bathroom jokes at the table please!) and tease each other. We will enjoy each others company  because THIS is a place where you can have our time and in turn: we get to have yours (FYI: We LOVE your time with us. Thank you for giving it to us)

School is priority NUMBER 1. You will go. You do not have a tummy ache. You will learn. You will do your homework and all of your assignments and study for your tests. We will help you. (even after all the work and everything else, we promise we will make time- no matter how tired we are – to sit with you for as long as it takes to help you) We like to help.

Weekends off are sacred. So much so we don’t even speak of them out loud until they happen. So no, you may not have a sleepover for 3 friends or go hang out in town with your peeps. We want to spend time with you and be a corny family sometimes. This is the time for this. We don’t need a plan and you don’t need to know what we are going to do…you just need to roll with it because at the end of the week and the 15 day stretches we don’t want anymore plans and structured timelines and deadlines.

We will all make sacrifices for each other occasionally. We will not always like it and may in fact bitch about it a little: but we will do it because we love each other. This goes for the rest of our lives too…not just now.

We will be kind. We will not fight or argue or act like someone with complete emotional disregard for everyone else to get attention when the parents attention is directed elsewhere. Also that will happen. Our attention will occasionally be divided and given to one child over the other depending on a situation. I know it sucks. Deal with it. We will be kind and accepting that Jay works from home and that means we have to be respectful of that during work hours (Jay will in turn not huff and puff and blow the house down when we occasionally forget). We will be understanding when Mom needs to sleep (In turn Mom will realize that it’s not YOUR fault she is tired and try to keep her grumpy to a dull roar). We will not be a pest when our sibling is doing homework. We are not jerks and we won’t act like it.

And like I said: This list and these rules are not the be all end all house rules: they are simply guidelines. Looking at it written out its actually quite amazing to see that Jay and haven’t just set rules for our kids so that our house doesn’t fall apart: but we have set standards for them to use and adapt as they grow into adulthood. We are managing to keep ourselves sane while at the same time raising respectful and responsible children (who just happen to be wearing clean clothes they laundered  themselves!)

 

An Organized Distaster

My life right now. 2 jobs (working all three shifts at random meaning some stretches are 12 days long). 2 kids – 1 of which shares time between our home and her Dads on a week about basis. A Jay that works full time from home – having to travel at random to Florida several times throughout the year – while also running a business part time doing his beautiful art and shooting amazing photography.  We have more pets than people in this house. We have a house under major renovations right now. We have doctors and dentists appointments. 2 vehicles to maintain. We have family spread across the Province. We have more things to do and take of than time to do it all in. It’s a disaster and we are trying our darndest to keep everything straight. We are trying our darndest to also manage to somehow have time for US: to have time together, and for ourselves: to have time to do the things that are important to us individually (for writing, for photography, for art, for reading and just being lazy sometimes).

Finding a system to keep everything organized that works for us both (us being Jay and I: Me being OCD and paranoid about always being on time and him being Mr. We’ll get there when we get there…OH look a shiny thing!) has been…a struggle. We have tried shared calendars online and then updated our phones and the sync just wasn’t there anymore. We’ve tried just telling each other our plans and timelines and got fed up arguing every other day about whether you really DID tell me about your meeting or not. We tried a wall calendar by the door but the pictures were pretty and ended up taped in Ryleigh’s scrap book :/ I’m a definite writer downer: meaning I feel better with things written on paper, so I’ve suggested a daytimer for Jay to use to keep his agenda straight and to help with when he has booked who for what and where: apparently he is very bad at writing thing down preferring instead to count on his memory that, lets be honest here, SUCKS which means he counts on me to keep things straight for him. We’ve downloaded apps and set alerts on reminders and even resorted at one point to writing on the fridge with a marker. A few weeks ago when my work schedule got beyond crazy and I couldn’t remember where I was let alone expect anyone else to, I devised the idea to set up the big white board easel in the dining room, drew a calendar on it, made a colour coded legend and wrote out our life one month at a time.  (NOTE the rule is unless you take part in paying the mortgage you are NOT allowed to TOUCH the white board).

In doing that I also decided to let go a little of the constant worry that I needed to keep everything straight for everyone. I decided that this way it’s all there: all written out for everyone to see, so there is no reason for anyone to be shocked when say the duct cleaners show up at 0830 on Tuesday morning. (If you are still in bed your going to get a shock when he comes in your room and I won’t be home so good luck!).  I decided too that in this house of technology (for reals 4 cell phones 5 computers and tablets and iPods and wireless everything) maybe going back to simple is best. Maybe the in-yourfaceness of the calendar is what we need to keep it together and…so far it’s been good. I think I have had to say only twice “Is it on the calendar? No! Then I guess it’s not my problem!” I still have my calendar in my bag that I use but everyday I do a check before leaving to make sure everything matches up and I rest a little better knowing that we are all on the same page.

An Organized Disaster

My next goal/plan? Is to get myself into a habit of keeping my blog  and photo ideas better organized. I think (ok I know…we live in a digital world and blogging is a digital life) for this to happen I am going to have to get out my comfort zone and away from scraps of paper and notes on the back of my check book and really get comfortable and proficient with using something like Evernote: which I downloaded months ago, played with for literally 10 minutes and then promptly forgot about.  If anyone has any other suggestions or tips and ideas I would certainly LOVE and appreciate the help!  On that note…I better get moving here because according to my calendar….I am due to work in 2 hours for night shift number 3 in the middle of an 8 day stretch!

 

The House That Love Built

1 year minus 3 days ago we had the house, we now call home, inspected prior to purchase. It was, in essence, our last chance to back. Just say no. Run AWAY. We didn’t. We saw the mess (thanks arse hole rental tenant and your demon children and lack of lawn-mowing/grounds keeping/it’s called a GARBAGE PAIL: use it – knowledge). We saw the massive amount of work that was going to be involved to get rid of the “abandoned shack look” that the cabin had taken on in the few months since our departure (Jay rented the house for 2.5 years before we bought it. tldr: We wanted to buy it then but the owners wouldn’t negotiate on the price so we left. Crappy tenant moved in AND shock! owners came back to us being more reasonable). We saw the dollars involved in making said improvements.  We also saw the beauty in the land. We remembered the beauty in the sun setting over the pond. We heard the sound of silence (that is actually a thing…and my favourite song). We looked to the future and saw  family suppers on the porch and meals cooked on the wood fired cook stove. We saw our children having graduation pictures taken in the yard and then their future children playing in the same yard someday. We saw life. We saw home in a log cabin on a pond down a country road.

And here we are just shy of a year into first time home ownership (after having had someone explain interest rates and land transfer taxes and deeds to me 67 time until I finally understood). Looking around it’s hard  sometimes to remember the way it looked before.  It’s hard sometimes to think about how far we still have to go without crying. The spring and summer have flown by with weekend projects absorbing every second of our “spare time”. We aren’t counting down the remainder of summer by thinking what we can do to enjoy it: but what we can get done in this short amount of time before the dreaded winter returns. We have in essence become weekend warriors: of the renovation kind. We’ve done our best to keep things cost effective (some of our favourite projects, like our garden path, not costing us anything) by reusing items from “other” projects and areas of the home: Sure it takes longer but the end results have, so far, been worth the effort. We put off  few major renos and bigger projects for the time being, accepting “band-aid” fixes  instead. We have adopted “We have years to get things done: Let’s make sure they are done right” as a mantra. The thing is: Effort and time we have lots of, money we do not! There is no rush. (Also why pay for something with credit when you can save for a while and pay cash instead)

It’s been tiring and exhausting and costly and painful at times. It’s also been amazing and wonderful and full of laughter and learning.  The best part of this all? Is the fact that Jay and I have done the work together. Without even contemplating ending each others existence in order to get our own way. We have learned that we make a kick ass team. Our tastes and wants are actually quite similar as is our ability to know “there is no way I am winning this discussion so I am just going to cut my losses and agree with him/her”. We truly have the epitome of a symbiotic relationship.  This truly will be the house that love built. That, or “The renovation project that never ends and I now need a third job in order to keep up”. I  think like the first one better.

A before and after view of the front of the cabin. Sept 2013 and August 2014
A before and after view of the front of the cabin. Sept 2013 and August 2014

 

 

If My Cat Had Instagram

Because of COURSE my cat needs her own Instagram* account! It would be AWESOME. I would love nothing more than to see post after post appear in my newsfeed from a cats perspective….especially a 9 week old kitten perspective! I imagine it to look something like this…

Tonka Trucks Instagram

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And ya..I totally made my cat an Instagram account….cause I am that cool! This silliness all started when I was explaining to my sweet  little Squish that at the age of 9 I felt she was too young to have ANY social media accounts. I explained it to her by saying it was just plain silly: Just as silly in fact as a cat having an Instagram account!! So then  of course, rightfully so, my brain switched from being a good concerned parent to a crazy blogger and I thought MY CAT TOTALLY NEEDS AN INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT!!! And I sent Squish off to play with some leaky old car batteries and got down to making this for my kittens! Follow along with @toncatruck and see what other craziness ensues! (NOTE: Squish will be taking over with “assisting” Tonks and her siblings going forward as a compromise for her having her own…see?? good Mom!)

*Instagram has not paid me, asked me or approved the use of their name in this post…they won’t care cause they are awesome and I am not being a jerk head here! I ❤ Instagram…please don’t sue me!

R – April 21, 2014

R is for…Ridiculous: The things I find such. A list.

  1. High school “dudes” walking around with no-shirt when it’s only 15 degrees out (It’s not summer yet homies…not yet)
  2. The 436 students who stand outside my son’s school smoking. You’re all like 14. All y’all. Just stop! You don’t look cool…you look stupid.
  3. Gas prices: Seriously ridiculous.
  4. Reality TV. I mean What. The. HECK??? I don’t know what Honey Boo-Boo’s Mom took when she was pregnant to cause that to actually be a thing…but it should be outlawed. Also Tori and Dean…umm fixing your marital issues on TV might probably not be the best thing since TV probably messed up your marriage in the first place. Just sayin.
  5. Non-reality TV that passes for “good”. Mostly all good TV died when Firefly was canceled. Way to go Fox…you broke life.
  6. Facebook credits: I can’t even…why??
  7. The “new” Twitter layout: Again…why?? I already have a Facebook account, why would I want my Twitter feed to look the same?
  8. Air Port Parking prices: Why yes! I do like paying as much for parking as I do for a flight.
  9. People who think SPAM email actually works: Tell you what! when I need a Russian bride with a HUGE penis and I also want to save money on my car insurance I will give you a call HotnSEXi567489304@gmail.uk.ca.fakeemail.com mmmk??
  10. People (women or men) who don’t get weak in the knees when Tom Hiddleston speaks/shouts/walks/dances/sits/breathes or exists.

Help me add to the list!! What is ridiculous?

Q – April 19, 2014

Q is for QUIET!!!

And how it’s not even when it is. I am sitting here trying to enjoy the quiet and the clam of the house early in the morning: but it’s not quiet. I hear the night dew dripping of the upper roof onto the steel roof over the porch. I can hear kitties playing and the dog snoring. I hear Lucas talking in his sleep (a dragon is about to get his ass handed to him…poor dragon!). I hear the duck and geese flying over and then the slash as they land in the pond. I hear birds chirping and roosters crowing (seriously gonna find that guy one day and ring his rooster neck!) I hear cows mooing(?) and I hear the clip clop of horses hooves on the road pulling the Mennonite buggies behind them (We live smack dab in the middle of Mennonite country right down from their school! It’s really cool to see the kids going to school everyday! Cutest. Kids. Ever!) It’s spring here now so I also hear chainsaws and tractors.

What don’t I hear? Traffic. People. Dogs barking, Horns and sirens. Transport trucks. Construction sounds. THIS is why I live where I do. I love the not-so-quiet quiet sounds of living in the country. This truly is the life!

P – April 18, 2014

P is for…PANTS!!

No…not the wearable Pants: Pants as in THIS is the silly nickname my sweet Jay has been blessed/burdened with his almost entire life! Weird right?? It came about before I entered the picture: perhaps even before I was born (haha not really!) and it has stuck with him since it originated. (I hear there is a dance of some sort that is connected with the name…I have yet to see it though)  Jay is kinda…well known around here. For good reasons. He could actually be the mayor of the small community we live in: we can’t go anywhere without at least three random people that he hasn’t seen in years stopping him to chat. The other day in fact we were in a store and low and behold we hear the infamous “PANTS??? is that you man??? how have you BEEN?? I heard you brought the house and did this that and the other thing!?!?” (seriously EVERYONE knows EVERYTHING around here…kinda creepy!) Jay of course gets into a conversation with the guy and the guys poor kid just looks at me and whispers “His name is PANTS???” looking horrified at the thought, and i just say “Yup..weird eh?”

Silly nicknames tend to do that…they stick. When I was young my Dad always called me Rew…my initials spell that, and it stuck. Everyone called me Rew or Rew-bear and then…Rew-ster. Yup. It. Was Horrible. Or was it? I was always horrified when his work buddies would call me that but I think I secretly didn’t mind. Having a nickname is like a term or endearment. It makes you feel like people think enough of you to give you said silly name and then remember it. It makes you unique in some ways. Truth be told though I am SO glad that name stayed in public school however, my Dad still calls me that. Cute. High school was where the infamous “Liziabeans” came from from….I will leave the how of that a secret though :s

When my Ryleigh was a very wee tiny baby, Luke and I gave her the nickname she has now: Lamby. She was a teeny-tiny little thing with the biggest loudest SCREAM you could imagine. Then one day she turned her 3 month old head to her brother and whispered “bah-bah-bah”. Luke said “Mommy! she is a very quiet lamb!” So, Lamby it was. That was our name for her. It was special to our family. Luke and I still call her that. Jay calls her that (or Squish haha) Her Nanny and Grampy call her that still.  I will be honest though: It drives me NUTS when other people call her that. Weird. To her friends though she is Cooper or Ry-Ry: which makes me cringe but oh well…they are 9 and clearly not very creative!

Lucas was and always will be Lukey to us. Not very creative and no funny back ground…he was just a Lukey baby and thats what he called himself when he was wee and spoke ALWAYS in the third person! Wanna see him squirm?? Call him that in front of his buddies!! Ah…good times being parents to a teenager!

Here’s to silly nicknames that we can’t escape..and to Mayor Pants!! (seriously Dude…you should totally run for council!)

I hope they hang on to the memories of those silly names we gave them like we hang on to ours.

 

O – April 17, 2014

First of all…this is not a happy post. It’s about online safety and metal illness and story of a teen suicide. This is a sensitive  and scary subject. I don’t want to offend or deter anyone from reading I just want to warn you up front. I encourage everyone but especially those reading who may be teenagers or young adults to read this through and share their thoughts after with a friend, a parent or teacher or adult they trust. 

O is for Online….

Where we all are right. Inside the internet. Where we are all safe and happy and completely aware of what we are reading and no one is silly enough to post credit card numbers, social insurance numbers (Canadian term y’all!) or our address and phone numbers right? We are all safe because we are aware. We are cautious. We are careful. Sounds about right? Not always though. In the midst of all this hoopla surrounding The Heart Bleed Bug (Yes, I just sent you to a Wiki link because no is marking me on APA right now gosh darn-it) making us all question the security of our passwords and personal information (SI numbers in Canada…still waiting to see if I am going to be one of the lucky +900 to get a registered letter :s) a story came up in my Twitter feed ( here)  bringing me back to 2012 when I wrote a rant about the passing of a young girl named Amanda Todd who ended her own life after years of on-line bullying  that all started because she felt safe and thought she knew who she was talking to and made an error in judgment. (You can see said rant here ). Yesterday a 35 year old man was arrested in connection to her suicide facing charges of: extortion, Internet luring, criminal harassment, possession of child pornography for the purpose of distribution, and possession of child pornography. My head and my heart almost exploded. First I though Good. Finally. Asshole!! Then I though of Mrs. Todd…Amanda’s Mom, who has since the death of her daughter devoted her life to advocacy and education surrounding online dangers, and my heart broke thinking of how this would never end for her. Everyday she has to live with the pain of loosing a child so soon: so young, but she also has to relive it in public, out loud in front of everyone. Then I was in awe of her strength and her drive and her wish to help prevent other parents, families, friends and strangers  from having to live through what she is. I just want to say thank you to her. Thank you for your efforts Carol. Thank you for your courage.

When I was in school I chose a path in Mental Health and Addiction. We all struggle with that: either personally or know someone close to us who does, so it mattered to me andI wanted to know more.I had a placement position (by chance) with The Canadian Mental Health Association and it was AMAZING. My first experience with a suicide of a youth was hard, it broke me. It brought me back to my families struggles with the same issue. I hated the word suicide. I hated the thought. I was lucky though. Because of where I was and who I was with: My amazing preceptor Jackie (who I love with all of my heart!), I was ok. Right away I got a glimpse into the world of fighting back after suicide. I got a peek into the minds of our youth and got to hear in their words what mental illness looks and feels like. I got to hear first hand from a parent who suffered a loss: then fought back. In a big BAD ASS way to help others: to help us all. Because of this I am trained in Mental Health First Aid for Adults working with Youth.

My path in nursing has since swayed. It had to. I was not in a place in my own head after graduation where I could BE strong and supportive. I went left when I could have stayed right. I needed to heal my own head and silence my own demons. and I haven’t fully done that yet. However, I am getting very good at telling them to shut the hell up. I needed a push (sometimes a shove!). I needed a reason. I feel like this could be it: Hope. I feel like I saw some small sign of hope yesterday. 2 years later and they were still fighting for Amanda. I think I found hope.

A mental health crisis is not a joke. Please don’t ever take it as such. If you see someone struggling PLEASE offer them help. Be a friend. Be an ear or a shoulder: you could save a life. OH and this 1-800-668-6868. It’s the number for the kids help phone. Write this number down everywhere: make your kids memorize it. Make your kids call it when they need to.

Here are some links to wonderfully amazing information and services regarding mental health awareness and suicide prevention in Canada.

The Kids Help Phone 

The Amanda Todd Legacy

The Jack Project

OR for your own country/province/state just open Google and use search terms such as: Crisis hotline, suicide hotline, crisis support, youth mental illness support

If you or anyone you know are having thought of harming themselves or others please: CALL 911, or your local emergency hotline, immediately and tell them it’s an emergency: even if you aren’t sure. Especially if you aren’t sure. It’s better to have a pissed off friend spend a night in the ER with a police officer and a nurse at their side than to not have that friend there ever again to be pissed off at you.

Be well everyone. Please. xox