Thursday, November 5, 2009


Dragging my ass through what may or may not be the swine flu - survey says - probably not, but still our household has ground to a very slow motion version of its usual busy self. Three of the kids are flat on various couches and the youngest is unusually unbouncy.

Surprised myself with how worked up I have been over the h1n1 thing - done my usual thing of going into research mode and I feel a little better having plowed through a bunch of different articles from a bunch of different sources and cross checking those sources.

I am no more afraid of the vaccine than I am of any other vaccine - which is to say that I have a healthy respect for it and its possible side effects and yes I do believe those to be rare.

I am grateful that my brood does not seem to have any of the underlying conditions that would put them at greater risk.


Some things that have been on my mind:

socialized medicine in the U.S.:
I live with socialized medicine and I love it. Not because it is perfect, it certainly isn't but it does mean that as a society the majority of people in my country have decided that don't put a price on human life.
Yes, I know that sounds simplistic but in a very general way I believe it to be true.
If my kids or husband get hurt or sick, we simply visit our doctor or go to the emergency ward - I make sure I have my wallet with me before we go because I keep my health care card in there.
In the past four years we have been to emergency with my youngest daughter and a mild concussion, seen a gastroenterologist and had a gastroscopy for my oldest daughter, and I have had two colonoscopies, mole removal, and a visit to a dermatologist to have a largish section of shoulder skin removed and checked for melanoma and this does not include the various visits for checkups and for prescriptions for all six of us. And it cost us nothing.
Well actually it did cost us money in the form of taxes but that is fine by me.
I am happy that my neighbors, my friends, strangers and even people I don't like can all go and get medical care when they need it.
It keeps us as a society healthier, physically, medically and morally.

Lately we have had some experience with a system that seems more like the privatized american medical insurance system - but in my family it is with therapy. We are using therapy a lot right now. My husband has quite good benefits from his job for that, but ONLY if we use the therapists that the insurance company wants us to. And we don't want too. Our kids have very good, trusting relationships with two play therapists and don't think it would make sense to try and disrupt that and start again. So we are paying, a lot of money every month, and trying as hard as we can to convince the insurance company to reimburse us. It is a pain in the ass.
If this is the "choice" and "control" that some Americans think is the best for them - I don't get it.

More later.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

And so we roll along

We still have four kids:
-Oldest son is 18, I cried some on his birthday for all the time that has gone by and all the mistakes I have made and in joy for having him - he is a fine and thoughtful young man with a hilarious sense of humour and he is deeply connected to his brothers and sisters
-Oldest daughter is 15, the road is so rough sometimes for her - as sadness and self doubt grab at her and leave circles under her eyes but we grown ups know that this is a tumultuous time as bodies grow and hormones flow and we do get the other side when she shines and sparkles and laughs and shines. She teases her youngest brother with a truly gentle affection and wraps herself around her youngest sister both physically and emotionally to try and offer her comfort from the hurts of the world both big and small
-Youngest son is 13 and truly a joy, if that is a word that can be applied to someone who points out that he is gaining on me in height in hourly updates, rolls his eyes like they are loose in their sockets, can stretch out a whine for hours, his voice cracking, and make me laugh while he does it and flips his bleached hair out of his eyes as he leans in to hug me good night as he does every single night - he is ours, he is mine
-Youngest daughter is 9nearly10, oh so nearly. If you ask her right now she can tell you how many days it is until her birthday, they are dwindling away quickly and she is growing and maturing so much. Smart? Oh that child is smart! And strong! I tell her how tough and strong she is all the time and also try and let her know that she doesn't have to be all the time, that is a job she can share with me and her Dad. The other day she told me that her thoughts know that I won't leave her, it is just that her feelings aren't sure yet. That is big stuff for her. We still have some serious stuff to try and figure out around birth family and especially birth Mom - right now we have decided to put that stuff in an emotional box, away from us and take it slow and just deal with it a little at a time.

We are happy and lucky to have two good therapists to work with, the Play Therapist that has been with Youngest Daughter since she first came to us is still there every second week and their relationship is a good one and a helpful one. Family Therapist is a newer find in the last Year or so and has been very useful to the rest of us, singly and in groups. I think of him as being on retainer for us for the next few years and am very grateful that we can afford him - appointments with him help smooth the rough patches in life and really show the kids that their Dad and I take their feelings and our family very seriously and that is priceless.

Birth Grandma still shows up, either by phone or in person, usually about every six months or so. That will probably be her pattern in the future too. There is upheaval when that happens but it is worth it because the youngest kids really do appreciate the contact, she is a touchstone of who they were, where they came from and I think it reassures them that we welcome her and embrace her as much as possible - it shows them that we care about where they came from too.

Birth Brother - we don't know where he is, we haven't heard from him since before Xmas, when he blew out of his placement in the first foster home he has had since he was 12 (he has been in group homes since) and it was with the fosterMoM that he had at the time - he is now all of 16 and both my youngests were terribly upset during his birthday month - and probably are even now...

BirthMoM is a tough subject for me right now. The last letters we rec'd were in January and the one to our youngest daughter triggered some difficult behaviours and I haven't been leaving the house much on my own since then. Before my eyes, YD became the cold, emotionally distant 7 yr. old who moved in with us and OH how powerless felt to stop the transfomation! I have yet to write the letter that I need to write to her, I have been putting it off but the time is coming soon. I want to do it right. BirthMoM needs to understand that although five years may not seem like a long time to an adult for YD it has been over half her lifetime and that things cannot be picked up where they left off, it doesn't work that way and it is unfair to YD to expect it to.
But I have to, and want to, say it in the the most productive way possible and with input from YD, YS and therapists - hopefully I can.

So that is where we are right now.

I am afraid for my children in the future, at least a little, but most mothers probably feel that way...I want to protect them from hurts, big and small and at the same time let them grow and find their way...
I don't write here anymore for a couple of reasons, the biggest one is that I am trying to allow them to be themselves and not characters in my story.
And I have been exploring other parts of myself, the artist, the athlete, the writer, the woman who realizes that 42 IS the answer to the ultimate question of life the universe and everything (thankyou Douglas Adams) and I want to make sure that every number afterwards is too.

I still would like more kids.
Really and for true.
A baby lifts my heart into my mouth, any baby and I look with yearning eyes at my husband.
Toddlers have the same effect, okay almost all ages of child do....but it wouldn't be fair to the family we have right now, there is enough on their plates...but maybe someday this bigger family will become bigger still.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

calm -ish -

Three months since my last update...
the fallout from the Birthmom package and the subsequent Birth Grandma visit, was somewhat constant until just recently.

Hardest was definitely Youngest Daughter with stunning flashes from Youngest Son and the upset was tough for everyone.

There were flashes, the tiniest flashes of time when I really wondered if I was going to be able to ride it out, if there would be an end to it all.

Most of that had to do with realizing how tenuous my bond to my youngest daughter could be in some ways and wondering how much farther it could stretch and not that I was afraid it would break off but how scared I was that maybe she couldn't love me.

Those were the darkest moments though, the scariest, the hardest - thinking that I was pouring so much of myself and my love into what was a black hole but one shaped like a little girl with huge eyes - and realizing I didn't have a choice, that I couldn't turn it off, that even if her attachment was broken and she could not love me back that she was MINE and that it didn't matter and that would be sad.

Thankfully there were times, far too brief as some points, where she did reach back, where it did not feel fake or for an audience or manipulative.

It has been somewhat settled and what I guess is real life kind of relatively happy normal - but I do feel the urge to erase that, after looking furtively behind me to see if I have just alerted the trauma winds to our presence.

I have not written because I also hate the idea of the one sided representation that I give of our family, of my children, of myself.

It really is unfair to give what is only my perspective and only from that chunk of time and present that to world as what my family is really like.

My kids are great, we do have so many great days and they forgive me sooooooooooooooooooo much and deal with my struggles to be a good parent...
and we laugh.

I am so thankful we laugh.

Too often I don't sit down to write about my youngest daughter's burgeoning sense of humour, her sly puns, her growing and strengthening relationship with her sister and her loss and fear and confusion as she sees her brother, my youngest son, begin that journey of becoming a teenager and in some ways leaving her behind.

You haven't heard about my youngest son's increasing periods of cuddling, of curling up against me of giving me kisses on the cheek, of cracking up so hard over something funny I said that he is a danger to himself if he is eating or drinking.

Older daughter is emerging slowly but surely, shaking out and drying those fragile, damp butterfly wings of who she is. Knowing more about how to handle things like the dark waves of depression, having more insight sometimes at 14 than I have at 41.

Oldest son is almost easy to take for granted because he is there and does what is needed and is both older than and younger than his years in surprising ways. He accepts with dignity and equanimity his place as oldest child and often takes on more responsibility than he needs to or should. He is a fine young man.

Finally I wonder about my right to my children's lives.
They are mine, with every breath and beat of my heart, they are mine but very importantly, I must recognize and respect that they are their own and their stories are their own and how I traverse that awareness and the need to share my story, is something I have been struggling with.

They all know about my blogs, this one and my photo one, and I don't think they read them on their own and ....

I don't want to put aside this blog, it and my other one Building The Bigger Family, mean so much to me and have brought me friends and an important support system, but posting will not happen much until I find the right way for me to do it.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Of letters and feathery things.

Our canary, Izzy, is currently alive and well ( that is the sound of heartfelt and vehement knocking on wood that you hear).

In face, the avian vet (thanks for suggesting that fosterabba, he was worth every penny of the $72 exam) says that he is actually quite a big and robust canary.

The vet also figures that he probably won't drop dead just from being exposed to me.
(This is good to hear because I was, you know, beginning to wonder.)

Our air quality report ($140) came back and we rated as average for fungus and bacteria - most of it probably brought into the house from the outside ---- but since I ran out and bought a true hepa filter air cleaner ($120), I'm going to darn well believe it has improved.

Bird lady has been kept up to date and is calmer. Yay!

AAAAANNNNDDDDD, screechin in on the heels of that fun stuff ---- in other news....we just received a package of letters and cards from Birthmom.

Our first ever direct-ish contact with her.
Between just you and I?
It freaks me out.

She calls them her angels, our youngest daugher is her princess, she wants them to write to her and to send them pictures...and she wants to see them in less than a month and I don't want her to be in their lives that fast and that intensely and......I sound a little resentful and whiny don't I?

Probably, because I am, a little.

Birth Grandma gave me a heads up that the mail was coming and I sent a three page letter and pictures off to the government office that deals with this....
now I will send off another short one with better pictures...

and try and deal with the fall out, obvious and not so obvious that is shaken loose for my youngest two.

Having contact is the RIGHT thing.
It is the only thing - as long as the kids are not at any kind of actual physical risk - and I don't think they will be...

but oh, I wish I could protect them and me and us and...

I'm a little afraid, because I feel like, especially with our youngest, that we are so tenuous so much of the time...we are just beginning to really connect...

Big, calming breath in.
I'll spend a few minutes getting over myself (hah! or years) and go and make dinner.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

For the birds...

Currently we have:

2 dead canaries buried in the front garden


1 live canary in the house


1 very unhappy,elderly bird woman who wants the live canary back now so that we don't "kill another one of her birds"


four children who are attached to the only bird that was robust enough to live and are afraid that if he goes back he will die and that don't want him to go back anyway because they are attached to him. (His name is Izzy by the way.)


two very painful phonecalls with a fair share of spiteful recriminations and tears thrown in


now I will be calling an air quality inspection place to come and moniter our air quality and send the results to her to try and mollify her


one woman who would cheerfully pack up the sweet little bird who is still alive and drop everything in the bird woman's lap and not look back except for the aforementioned four children


their eight fear filled eyes that are watching my every move

and the moral is, and of course there is a moral -
don't get animals from a possible animal hoarder, and if you ignore your inner warning bells about it, then be prepared to deal with the consequences which may be even bigger than...
dead pets, heartbroken children but may also include -

not attending your camera club because bird lady is a member


make your running club awkward because one of your running friends is how you met the bird lady in the first place


feeling like throwing up,

a lot.

Monday, April 7, 2008

after the weekend

Morning, before the kids are up and things are....a little better here than the last time I posted.

Then, it was nearly midnight and I was hunched over my laptop at the top of the stairs, trying to make sense of how two tiny creatures in MY care had died and how I was going to deal with that fall out with my kids.

I don't think I had yet realized that I had to deal with my own feelings about it all and I really did.

For better or for worse, I am a care giver and no matter what else has happened in my life I have clung to the belief that I am the best I can be when it comes to doing that and that by now, I'm pretty good at it - at least when it comes to pets.

Complacency can really bite you in the butt in a very HARD way.

I should have done the research on Canaries first, before they ever crossed the lintel into the house.

I should not have expected the research I had done on finches and the experience we did have with a cockatiel and the information provided by the hobby breeder lady who gave them to us to be enough to go on.
From everything I have learned in the past day, through that research that I should have done in the best guess is that the poor little critters keeled over from stress. That the same conditions that they lived in at the Bird Lady's house just didn't work for them here.
At her house, they all live in small cages, usually with more than one bird to a cage and although that works for her, it is highly unusual for it to work for most canaries because other than in the breeding season, they are highly territorial birds and they don't want to be near each other.

The last and final canary, the one that was brought over only two days after the first male actually doing very, very well. He is thrilled to have his own, big cage and sings and sings and sings and is the very freaking picture of unstressed health - eating well, drinking well and flitting and twittering and generally charming the heck out of the household.

About my littlest girl.
Sometimes she is better, there are times, minutes even where she forgets to be a princess made of solid ice. It is just the run up to her birthday is sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo excruciatingly difficult for her and therefore on every other person around her.

There are times when I am horrified to say that I don't like her, even a little bit.

I LOVE her but oh, I don't like her. She is not at all likeable, except of course in front of other people.

If my husband did not see and recognize that she is crazy making and manipulative - I would likely go nuts because every other adult sees this adorable, cute little person that I am lucky to have.

It is hard to have a kid that you don't like, that you sometimes, briefly wish had never become your problem, because you just don't feel like you are making any headway.

It makes you take hard looks at parts of yourself you just never want to see.

But maybe this crisis of a weekend was a good turning point for her.
Saturday, she was unbelievably quiet and restrained and Sunday, she was very much like a normal kid would be.

Maybe it is because her birthday is tomorrow and we are nearly over that terrible time.

Maybe it won't last.
Maybe it will.

Thanks for all your kind comments. They helped.
A lot.