Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Recent shenanigans

Lego fire truck. Hours of studious fun

This is Frosty in our backyard; the snowman of many hats! This is Frosty the Andrey:

Frosty the firefighter:

Frosty the Bob (the builder):

Frosty the fisherman:

Frosty the trucker:

And Frosty today:

No final hat was chosen. Poor Frosty is hatless.

Sitting alone

In other news.
Brent returned to work this morning :-(
It was so nice to have him home for longer than his usual days off, and to spend some time with each other and extended family this week.
I've put Riley on the kid potty 5 times, and nothing has happened. How long are you supposed to communicate before they pee in it? Seriously. Asheya told me to try after he wakes up, but he always wakes up and wants to breastfeed right away. That is how he wakes up, and by the end of his feed he must have already peed because his diaper is wet and putting him on the toilet doesn't produce anything. I keep him there until he gets restless, which isn't long but at least a minute or two.

Also, I googled Brent's name, and our blog didn't come up! And not too many people read my blog, so I can't decide if I should go private after all or not. Brent gave me the impression that going private is a bit of overkill with regards to his job. So I can't decide if I am being paranoid or wise. I'm going to have to think about that one for a bit longer, so y'all are safe for awhile.

Remember that awesome counsellor I found through my work? I went to see her again before Christmas and she told me that my employer will only pay for one more session. She's so amazing and helps me SO much and provides such a great balance of empathy and actual HELP, so this was not the greatest news. I mean, the Hollywood stereotype joke is that you keep going for years on end and never really get anywhere right? But in my opinion my employer should pay until I feel resolved or settled, given my job. If I put the cotton on the end of Q-tips for a living, maybe not. But I'm the one who goes to peoples' houses when their loved ones die, or who goes to pull people out of the river when they drown, or out of their houses when their drug labs go up in smoke, or redresses raped girls and sits helpless beside them on the way to the hospital. Not to mention the sick babies.
I love my job (though I'm nearing my expiry date...burnout is extremely high in my profession and I want to get out before I reach that point). I'm not complaining about being the one who does these important jobs, I'm simply pointing out that it takes its emotional toll and my employer would be prudent to help me out when the toll becomes apparant.
Of course, we are complex beings and our personal and professional lives melt into one another so it's difficult to compartmentalize the help I get, and say, "This is only for the emoional difficulties I have with regards to WORK," ...anyways. The reality is that my employer will pay for four sessions.
But, in three sessions with a really good counsellor I have come very far. After she told me I could only have one more session that was covered by my employer, I went home and freaked out. I felt major pressure to get my shit together in only one more session. What if I couldn't wrap it up nice and neat? What if I wasn't done? What if I was still anxious? So I started freaking out to God about it. "I don't know what I'm going to do! I can't get all my shit calmed down and resolved in only one more session! It was REALLY HARD to reach out and get help when I needed it and now I'm going to be left to manage alone again..." But then I was reminded that it's not Me and Irene on a journey towards health and stability and a life free from anxiety, but rather Me and God. Irene is someone God is using to help me on this path I'm walking, but when her involvement in my life is over, I won't be alone, and it won't be the end of my journey. That helped me a lot.
Several other things helped me a lot. Curiously, my fall with Riley in the parking lot a few weeks ago really helped me. It tested me in a really big way, because I had been working hard to abate the anxiety that had built up in me over the past months, and then I had this really close call. But when I fell, I protected him. He didn't bonk his head, he didn't scratch his skin, he didn't have a single mark on his body because I threw myself around to protect him. So I realized that if an emergency happens I can trust myself to do everything in my power to protect my kids, even if I don't anticipate the emergency beforehand. I think I was worried about not anticipating a particular emergency and thus confronting it unprepared (this has happened to me at work, and I have totally dropped the ball before; which is part of why we work in pairs! To remind each other what needs to be done when we forget!). But my role with my children is less complex than at work. I don't have to intervene, diagnose, treat, apply medications, start difficult IVs, do paperwork, communicate under pressure, etc, etc, etc--with my children my role in an emergency is simply to protect them, and for that I am equipped. I can do that, and I proved it to myself when I fell.
Irene also helped me realize that it isn't fundamentally up to me whether my family members live or die, it is up to God.
This may seem simple, and true, but I had forgotten it. I was trying to be hypervigilant about all aspects of my family's safety, to the point where I was functioning on high alert ALL THE TIME. I was so used to it that I couldn't see that it wasn't normal, and couldn't really see why I was anxious. But seriously, EVERY time Riley slept I would think he was dead, and the thoughts that went through my mind were variations of:
I have to check if Riley is breathing because he might have JUST stopped and so there is time to resuscitate him if I start RIGHT NOW but if I wait to check it might be too late.
If I let Ayden use adult scissors he might fall forward and stab them into his eye and either he will be blind or the scissors will go PAST the back of his eye and into his brain and he will die or be brain damaged, but if I take the scissors RIGHT NOW it won't happen.
I screwed up when we first adopted Matthew so he's going to hate women and become a serial rapist.
If we get in a crash and one of our carseats is too loose, one of my kids will die.
If I leave the kitchen with a burner on our house might burn down.
If I forget to pray for Brent while he's at work, he could get shot.

And etc.

Jeepers. No wonder I was anxious. I seriously had these thoughts ALL THE TIME. It's amazing I could cope at all. But Irene helped me see that I really was trying to take on God's job here. "Is it really up to you, Melissa?" she asked me. And I could see that no, it wasn't. (p.s. my counsellor is a christian. Which isn't a selling feature for me generally, but in this case it helps!)
You would think this would make me feel more anxious, being less in control over the destiny and well being of my family than I realized, but it actually makes me feel 6,000 times better because I realize it's not up to me so I can relax. Relax the vigilance.
Irene suggested coming up with a visual image that I can think about when I start to think about something that usually makes me anxious. Something that reminds me that God is good, and that I can trust Him, and that stops the anxious spinning. So I did and it helps amazingly, amazingly, amazingly.

When I started tackling my anxiety effectively, Stu came back.
I pushed anxiety out of the way and who was waiting for me?
So I told Irene about this. My visual image to combat anxiety wasn't that effective with my guilt. She felt that this was because my image for anxiety was too peaceful. I needed a different, more active, strong image to combat guilt. And we talked at length about my guilt and Irene kept pointing me towards God's grace. If He can forgive me, and I know of course that he can and already has, why can't I accept it? I guess I kind of feel that I don't quite deserve Grace, not yet. I need to flagellate myself a bit longer first. More punishment is in order. Irene said, "Isn't it up to God?" and that rang true. Here I am, trying to do God's job by keeping death and catastrophe at bay with my family, and here I am, trying to do God's job by punishing myself for past failures.
She also said, "You didn't handle Matthew's transition poorly because you were lazy, or didn't care, or couldn't be bothered to do better..." Which is true. I simply couldn't cope.
Maybe it is time to leave it behind for good. Accept that I didn't handle the transition to two children well, but that I can't change the past. It's time to let God do the damning, which He finished 2000 years ago when Jesus died. If I step into Grace, I acknowlege that judgement is not my job.
Ack, what a relief.

I've begun sleeping again. I no longer lie awake at night until 2 or 3, listening to everyone else breath and dream and snore.
I have more time to enjoy things, because I'm not so wrapped up in keeping everyone alive.
I'm happier.
I'm more well rested.
I'm not anxious.

As far as the judgement and guilt go; this is more entrenched. I have been living with Stu for more than three years so he's harder to fully rip out by the roots, though I've been hacking off major arteries for a long time. I KNOW it is time to stop performing God's job in judging myself, but actually letting go is proving more difficult. But I'm trying.

xo, all.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Our Christmas celebration

Last year my cousin Sara started a new tradition in her family of significant charitable giving and reduced gift giving at Christmas. Then my mom decided to scale back the giving to children only (as in, people who are actually still children, as opposed to those people who are HER children), unless otherwise indicated.
I've always enjoyed Christmas, but never much enjoyed large amounts of shopping, spending money we don't have, or participating in the frantic Mall Activity of the entire month of December, so I was intrigued by this 'less is more' Christmas style. I had to be careful, though, since EVERY member of Brent's family save myself gives and recieves love through gift giving. I didn't want to become a scrooge, you know?
Brent's mom decided we should draw names this year for his side of the family, which is the PERFECT solution IMO because everyone still gets a little shopping, a nice gift (or three, knowing his family!), but less emphasis on a-gift-for-everyone-of-relatively-equal-value/size/quantity/etc.
I knew, however, that name drawing cannot result in the ignoring of the existance of other members of the family. Plus, I didn't want to scale back Christmas in order to Save Money, this being the quintessential definition of a scrooge, more or less. I wanted to save ourselves from going into massive debt like we have in the past, but I didn't want to cheap out either. Balance.
So, adopting Sara's charitable giving model and merging it with the name drawing and reduced consumption ideas, we purchased thoughtful and nice gifts for the people whose names we drew, purchased gifts for our three kids and our neice, and gave money to the orphanage which had responsibility for Matthew's well being while he was living in Thailand on behalf of our other family members. I gave each family member a Christmas card (purchased from Unicef, with an aboriginal artists' painting on the front...this is gettin so politically correct as to be absurd) with a certificate indicating our giving in their name.
The result?
A wonderful Christmas. We shopped a bit, thoughtfully, and in a focused manner. For me, this moved shopping from detested obligation to joyful giving. What a shift! Seriously, I did not anticipate so drastic a change in my own experience of Christmas. The few times we went to the mall during the Christmas season, I felt like an oasis of calm amidst a flurry of frantic activity. And then one of my kids would act like an orangutan [a large, long-armed anthropoid ape, Pongo pygmaeus, of arboreal habits, inhabiting Borneo and Sumatra: an endangered species] and I would snap out of my oasis fantasy to become the Referee-Cowboy-PoliceOfficer-UNPeacekeeper-NoYouCannotHaveAnyMoreCandy-NoYouCannotHaveAnyToysRightBeforeChristmas-BecauseISaidSo-DoAsISayBeforeISlaughterYouInFrontOfAllThesePeople mommy. But that's normalcy for me year round. So.
Anyways, to sum it up, we LOVED doing christmas this way and felt like we could absolutely enjoy the holidays, give a small amount of nice, thoughtful gifts, give to charity, eat good food, and spend time with family. Win-win-win. Like the idea of Jubilee [It was, then, part of the legislation of the Old Law, whether practically adhered to or not, that each fiftieth year was to be celebrated as a jubilee year, and that at this season every household should recover its absent members, the land return to its former owners, the Hebrew slaves be set free, and debts be remitted...which of course spawned the Jubilee 2000 Campaign]
, or Bono's Red campaign. Everyone wins.

Christmas eve Brent was supposed to work, but as you all know, he couldn't get out of our driveway on account of the excessive snowfall in our area. So we played in the snow. That evening since church was cancelled, Brent took a taxi (after an hour of all of us waiting in the snow at the bus stop, only to have 2 buses completely pass us by without stopping, and 10 minutes of fruitless wheel spinning of our car) to the grocery store and bought some crackers, wine, and cheese, and we put the kids to bed and watched The Lord of The Rings Part I and ate some good food. Of course, we stuffed some stockings and put some surprises under the tree as well.
The next morning everyone slept in, we opened our stockings, ate breakfast, and leisurely opened the gifts under the tree.
We watched Wall-E, which we had gotten for the boys, and spent a fabulous afternoon together.
For supper we managed to get the car moving, and we went to Brent's grandma's house for turkey and extended family time.
Yesterday we visited Brent's other grandma in Abbostford, and watched some more Lord Of The Rings and ate some more cheese/crackers/wine, plus the added bonus of some really good salami after the kids went to sleep.
A good time was had by all.
A wonderful Christmas!
Here are some photogs:

Now, this child took after this parent:

And this child took after this parent:

...I'll leave it up to you to figure out whose is whose...

At Great Grandma's, we got a family photo

And, after more than a few of these:

A brother photo. Gorgeous!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Smarty Pants

Today Riley sat alone for the first time, twice. For about 10 seconds each time. My smart boy!
I didn't get a photo of it, but I'll try and catch it tomorrow.
He's four months, 12 days old.

He also sat on the baby potty for the first time tonight, before his bath. I know it's not exactly EC, as he is not communicating per se, but it's a start. He didn't pee, but he didn't protest. Also, Matthew got to be the Big Brother and demonstrate a proper big boy pee on the big potty at the same time. He loves doing big brother stuff.

Tomorrow it is supposed to rain on our two feet of heavy snow. Pray that our roof doesn't cave in, K? Thanks to deb for praying for our vehicle safety last week :-)
Now we need roof prayers. So do you, I reckon!

In other news, in two truffles there are 250 calories.
Don't read the nutrition panel on Christmas goodies. It's depressing. It doesn't stop you from EATING them, it just makes you ENJOY them less! After the snow goes I'm going to be hitting the pavement three times a week for serious, to get ready for the Sun Run in April.

Also, today was supposed to be my last public day as a blogger.
I'll figure it all out tomorrow.
So, here is your last warning: tomorrow you'll need your email address to access my blog. I'm sorry!
xo, blogosphere, and friends.

Love to you all.

p.s. I love the snow.
Love it.

p.p.s. Addison is in the hospital for an underdeveloped trachea and difficulty keeping her oxygen levels up. Please pray! Seriously, her parents have had enough woes with regards to their childrens' health to fill a medical textbook already. Now Addi is sick. Pray hard!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

how silently,
how silently
the wondrous gift is given.

i would be silent
now,Lord,and expectant...

that i may receive
the gift i need...

I've had a few inquiries into our state of being, since I have not posted recently...we went away for four days to celebrate an early christmas with my parents in Vernon. It was magical, and wonderful, and COLD!! The night we arrived it was -33 and blowing wind. The next day was -18, clear, sunny, and gorgeously wind whipped but we bundled up all three kids and tumbled around in the snow for an hour or so! The following day it was snowy and we had our Christmas dinner, gift opening, 20 people to celebrate, full and busy day. Monday it was clear and cold again at -10, so we went tobogganing with the boys.
It was a wonderful trip, and we didn't want to leave on Monday evening but Brent had to be back for work on Tuesday morning. So we packed up and had a gong show of a trip; took us 8 hours to do the 5 hour trip, not because of road conditions but because every 20 minutes someone else needed to pee or poo or breastfeed...
Ayden recieved a Leapster 2 toy from his grandparents for Christmas and it got a full 12 hours of use on Monday, between the a.m. hours and the trip home. He put it down in Abbotsford and finally fell asleep!
highlights of our trip:
seeing 21 family members
best turkey dinner I've ever eaten (thanks mom, dad, and Brent)
sleeping a family of 5 in a double bed
finding our baby bum wipes frozen solid upon arrival in Vernon (we borrowed a truck and they were in the back at -33)
finding our bag of dirty cloth diapers frozen solid upon arrival home from Vernon
the bring-a-book-or-CD gift exchange where we stole from each fun!
tons of snow
showing off Riley
morning sleep ins thanks to Nana looking after Ayden and Matthew (Riley still sleeps in)
hot tub after tobogganing
watching Ayden and Matthew leap out of the hot tub naked, dance around with their berries flapping, roll in the snow, and dive back in the hot tub
flipping through baby pictures of my brother with his fiancee

apparantly on our trip Matthew forgot how to use a toilet
Riley's (most likely--not yet diagnosed) eczema flared up
our trip felt too short!

We returned to see, to our relief, that our snowfall the previous week had not yet melted, and promised to return to outdoor fun the next morning. We visited Santa at the mall yesterday, got back our fully fixed Matrix from Kirmac Collision, AND hit the grocery store (me + three hungry boys in a grocery store = not a fun time had by all), so we didn't get outdoors to play.
This morning I woke up and...Brent was still here! Lo and behold. I looked at the clock and it said 10:30. He was due at work at 8:30 this morning?!?!?!?! He laughed when he saw my face and said: "I couldn't get to work because there is too much snow outside!" He opened the curtains for me to see and I was in shock--there had fallen more than another foot of snow in the night, and it was still falling thick, thick, thick! He tried for a long time to get our car to leave the driveway so he could go to work but it was an exercise in futility.
Hence, the sleep in for me!
Here are some pix of our weekend Christmas in Vernon, and of our colossal snowfall today (it is still snowing hard...the boys built a snow fort in our's a darn good thing Santa finished his shopping yesterday...)

Finally, our record snowfall. Riley opted to watch the shenanegins from inside, with puke on his face!