Friday, January 29, 2010

It's not a secret; we just didn't tell anyone.

Enter with caution; this one's a loooong one....

It's been a month of big changes in our house. I don't really know where to start.... back in September, one of my dearest friends here in Calgary called me. She had recently had her third baby and had hired a part time Nanny to help out while she was on maternity leave. The Nanny would work for them full time once my friend returned to work. My friend knows our family very well. She suggested that we hire her Nanny 1-2 days/week, temporarily, for the fall. Gary was going to be gone for 7 weeks, we were going through a rough patch with Ellie and Brad's juvenile diabetes, and were spending 2 days/week at the hospital. I had a few other issues on my plate, and because we live so far away from our families, we have no back up support at all with the kids. I know many people are in similar situations, but a lot of other people aren't. When we are at the hospital with the kids, there is poor Katey, not getting any naps, spending her time, unhappily, waiting with me. The last time I had dental work done, Ellie and Brad were in the room with me, and Kate, 18 months old at the time, squirmed on my belly while the dentist worked his magic. Don't even ask about the dreaded annual... "rhymes with tap" test, because they come to that, too. I digress...

After much fence-sitting, we hired "E" one day/week. It would soon increase to 2, sometimes 3 days/week. I had a lot of anxiety going into it, because anxiety is part of my charm. I thought I might feel funny being in the house with someone who was paid to help me out. I felt uncomfortable with my position as "ladyboss" which is how E refers to her female employers. I knew that I respected Canada's foreign worker program and how it assists qualified workers from disadvantaged homelands (in this case, The Philippines) to find work in Canada and eventually become citizens. But, again, I felt torn. Life is just so random... that this lady who would soon become a good friend to me was working in my house bothered me. Life isn't fair. If our birthplaces were reversed, I'd be working in her house; not her in mine.

To make a long story short (not my strongest suit...) E was with us for over 3 months and we all loved her. Gary too. During long weeks, or even a full month that Gary was away, I could go for a run, in the middle of the day when she was here. I got my haircut, alone! Best of all, I was finally able to regularly volunteer in Ellie and Bradley's class each week, and they loved that. While Gary was gone, it was a comfort to me to have another adult in the house through the night. When Gary was here, we went to our first movie together in 7 and 1/2 years. We met for lunch a few times. It was fanfreakingtastic. I often joked, only really half joking, that if I ever wrote a book, I could title it, "Lessons my Nanny Taught Me". There are many quotes from E worth printing, believe me. She has been working fulltime for my friend's family now for a month. We miss her, but she is happy, has a wonderful 'ladyboss' and family who love her, and we are still in touch. So, a happy ending there.

Except, it kind of sparked something inside me. I've been home raising 3 babies for almost 8 years. And, the last 2 years have really put us to the test. Ellie's being diagnosed at the same time Kate was born, and then Bradley's subsequent diagnosis... oftentimes the stress, anxiety and raw nerves have been palpable in our house. Kate was a twin and before we lost her twin, we'd planned to hire a nanny to help us out that first year. Gary travels a lot and works long days - he was terrified just considering leaving me to nurse twins all night, then take Ellie and Brad all over the place the next day for months on end. Once there was only one baby, we thought a nanny was no longer necessary. But, in light of the eventual special health needs of our oldest children, all of our family and our close friends who spend real time with us have said that we probably needed the nanny more with the reality we are living now, than we did with the reality we imagined with twins.

Boy, this is getting long. My apologies. If you've made it this far, there really must be nothing to watch on tv. Having some part time help made me realize how isolated and lonely I've become for adult company. Most of my friends have long since gone back to work. The lunches and playdates that maintained my social life when Ellie and Brad were preschoolers are gone. Kate naps everyday from 1-3pm, while Brad is at Kindergarten... my schedule is limited. But, I craved doing something. I wanted to volunteer somewhere. My biggest natural interest was in working with women newly immigrated to Canada. But, JDRF was also on my radar, as is the Red Cross. So, I called them all. I first heard back from JDRF. I spoke for almost 2 hours (2 HOURS!!) on the phone with the head of JDRF Calgary. She said I should forget volunteering and come down to interview for a job with her. I was adamant about not wanting fulltime, and that was what the position called for, but she thought she/we might be able to work something out. We weren't. It was fulltime or nothing. So, nothing it was. At the same time, I was seeking part time help; a part time nanny. I know that is a luxury. I know I am lucky to even be able to contemplate hiring a nanny so that I can go volunteer somewhere. But, we can't hire teen babysitters like everyone else can. There's no dropping them off at the grandparents or cousins while we take someone else to the hospital. We need an adult who can comprehend the gravity of juvenile diabetes.

We couldn't find a part time nanny. Understandably, nannies in the foreign worker/live-in caregiver program are all seeking fulltime work. Then, we met Liezel. Because we had a crazy week of Dr's appts, Liezel came for an interview with us AT THE CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL. She met us there!! And we all loved her! She's a bit too cute for my personal taste, but so, so lovely. That was a joke, btw. Mostly a joke, anyway...

So, we've hired a nanny and she's moving in this weekend. She will live here, in the basement ensuite previously used by visiting grandparents, uncles and friends who enjoyed more wine with dinner than would have been responsible to drive home with. (That's true.) She'll work 5 days/week, starting this Monday. And I am working 2 days/week at CIWA - Calgary Immigrant Women's Association. It is a volunteer position, working as a translator in an ESL course for immigrant women who are studying Early Childhood Care. This will enable these women, most from tragic backgrounds in refugee camps, to work in daycares, despite language barriers. I am pleased and excited.

The whole time E was with us, I didn't ever drop into conversation that we had a part time Nanny.... it wasn't a secret, I just didn't tell anyone. Obviously, my close friends knew, as did my parents. But, I'd gotten a few bitchy comments from one individual and it disinclined me to be too open about it.

I know I'm lucky. I know that some people will change their opinion of me. I know life is unfair. Some countries are rich, and others still have people starving to death. Or selling their child, to feed their other children. I know life is unfair when I give one of my kids a needle that they get 4 times/day, but still cry through, even though it keeps them alive. I worry a bit about what some people will say. Gary, a bit tougher than I, says, "**** 'em. Who are they to judge us, and what we face, alone..." He has a point. Other marriages have not weathered half of what we've gone through. I know, cue the violins...

I should add that all of my friends who knew we'd hired some help have ALL been wonderful. Most have hugged me and said 'It's about damn time!!' I love them for that. Just one miserable person put in a good effort to make me feel bad. But, I've been tuning her out for years and she's crazy anyway. No, seriously, she's crazy. B*tch be trippin'. For realz.

I'm so gangsta, sitting here in my turtleneck/cardie sweater set.

Before I sign off, I have to mention the horror in Haiti. I have a co-dependent personality and compulsive brain when it comes to bad news in the world. I have a hard time getting it out of my mind. That's why I haven't been writing anything here. No one wants to hear me go on and on about this tragedy and what we've decided to do about it in our house. But, we certainly hold the people of Haiti in our hearts and minds and hope for some relief to the unimaginable suffering there. There's now more orphans in Haiti than there are people in the province of Nova Scotia. We received a call today from the Red Cross thanking us for our donations, and the lady told me that Canada has contributed more than any other country on a per capita basis. Yet another reason to be fiercely proud of being Canadian.

Happy Friday!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Who's pee IS this?

So, Kate just turned 2 years old. Because she is constantly mimicking her brother and sister (for better AND for worse...) she seems older at 2 years old than her older siblings did. She's close to potty training, so I've taken our little wooden potty chair that I bought before Ellie was even born (sniff sniff) and set it up in our bathroom. I encourage her to sit on it, get comfy on it, etc. But, so far, she is not that interested in doing anything there other than perusing the odd book, usually upside down.

I was getting the kids into the tub yesterday, and while her diaper was off, got Kate to sit on the potty. Then, she went into the tub.

Fast forward to this morning. I was getting out of the shower and noticed that there was a tiny bit of pee in the potty. Did Katey pee in it yesterday, and I somehow missed it? I started to get excited, thinking Kate peed in the potty. I yelled downstairs, "Hey guys, who peed in Kate's potty?"

"Whaaaat??!!..." everyone yelled back. I said, "There is pee in Kate's potty. Who's pee is this?"

"Oh", Bradley said, "That was me."

"Why did you pee in Kate's potty?"

"Because Mommy, I wanted to remember what it's like to be little."

He's five.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Family Secrets Revealed...

So, I'm not really going to reveal any family secrets (there's no really juicy ones anyway). I just wanted to get my mother's attention. Hi Mom!

I'm not sure what my parents thought when I told them that I was starting a blog, considering that some of my Facebook updates have made them cringe (just a little...), but they are pretty great people and have always supported me and my brothers in whatever we've done. The closest thing we have to a family secret is that my parents and I don't see eye to eye, politically. But,that is hardly a secret. And, it is so common in families that it is practically standard. Remember, 40-50 years ago, our parents' parents thought the Beatles had "crazy, hippie hair"? Hello Marilyn Manson and Insane Clown Posse.

Funny story... 18ish years ago, I'd moved back to my Mom and Dad's house in the spring, following my first year away at university. I was broke. Jobs were few and far between and I'd applied for many of them. One day, I got a call from someone who asked me if I'd like to work the upcoming election, on election day. 12 hours at $5/hr, which was minimum wage. 60 bucks!! I was thrilled, if not very informed about what I'd be doing. I was told to be there for 8am, and I was there at 7:45 at the polling station. My job for the day was to sit in a car with Rich, a very well known character in my hometown, and write down the names of everyone who walked into the polling station. Great. I could do that. I was making $60 for this? Awesome. Just sitting in a car with Rich for that long was an education. In life.

So, the day was over and I came home. I talked to my Mom and Dad for a few minutes, then said,"I'm going to have a shower and go to the Liberal (wrap -up) party up at the hall." My Mom said, "Lori-Dear, do you think that's a good idea?" I was bored, lonely and missing my friends and would have wanted to go to any party, anywhere. Saying, yes, I thought it was a great idea, my Mom told me, "Well, you just spent the day working for the Tories, and it probably wouldn't look right."

"I just spent the day working for the conservative party???" WTH??? Does anyone else know I did that?? Even then, I was liberal minded, if not associated with the liberal party. But, wanting to adhere to my internal system of good taste, I did not go to the party. It pained me. I stayed home, and probably ate several bowls of cereal. Over the years, my politics have further evolved. The more I've travelled, the further left I lean.... I'm sure I'm now what the 'gentil' and soft-spoken Bill O'Reilly would call a leftist loon or pinhead. Considering the source, I'd say, "Bring it, Bill.. I ain't skeert..." There's no way he buys half of what he says.... everyone has their price.

'Cause, when you're broke, you're broke. And, 60 bucks is 60 bucks.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The one thing I have in common with Meryl Streep

I love Meryl Streep. Most women in my demographic love her. From Kramer vs Kramer and Out of Africa to Doubt and Julie and Julia, she's magnificent. I've never seen Sophie's Choice (if I couldn't handle it before kids, I certainly can't handle it now). Watching her in interviews, I am struck by her down-to-earthiness, her great sense of humour and her colourful language, which I love. Seeing her recently, wig-less, in It's Complicated with Alec Baldwin, (who I also love, despite that ugly voice mail) I realized I have something in common with her... bad hair. The exact same type of hair. Hair that has gotten worse and worse with each pregnancy and birth, and all that goes along with that.

So, I have the same hair as Meryl Streep. Makes me hate my hair just a little bit less.

Speaking of Julie and Julia, I need a point for this blog... my original idea had been to start cooking new recipes that I haven't done before, that are both healthy and animal friendly, if not totally vegetarian, and write about the results (okay, very UNoriginal, I know.... )

I already eat a very healthy diet. Frustratingly healthy for some in my inner circle; particularly those in my marriage. I've never been a meat lover, so it's easy for me to avoid it. No white flour, no white rice, no pasta - period, and no junk food and no fast food, ever. I love coffee, but haven't had any (decaf) for a week, and I haven't had caffeinated coffee in months. Decaf coffee alone is not at all bad for you, nor is regular coffee bad for most people, but I only like my coffee very sweet, and very creamy. Not milky. Creamy. Must be creamy. And, I love chocolate. I eat a lot of it, daily. After the food, chocolate and wine overindulgences of the holidays, I had a hankering to do a cleanse. I always do one after a vacation or holiday season. Because, I luuuuve my liver. The liver is the donkey of the body, overworked and underappreciated. It deals with all the food and junk we eat, drink, and medicines we ingest. So, the supplements were started, the coffee was gone, wine was long-gone, and the cheese.... would keep.

But, do you think I can stop eating chocolate this week? No. I can't. I've had two pieces of this extraordinarily good chocolate fudge here while typing! (Plus Gary loaded up on good Christmas chocolates he found at the grocery store 1/2 price after Christmas... that's not helping). But, you know what I think Meryl would say?

She'd say, "**** it, Lori, life is short." And, she's right.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"Mom, is your 'blob' ready?"

So, one of the things that has inspired me to start a blog is this cutesy new MacBook we recently purchased (shout-out to the Best Buy Boxing Week sales!). I finished the first entry several days ago, but have had no time to get to the actual creating of the blog; the choosing of colours for text, background, font, pictures for the profile, etc... If I don't soon just get to it, this will soon be a blog about creating a blog. On blogger. Not even on my own. So, I've chosen some simple colours and font just to finally get started.

Spent most of the day with the kids at the Children's Hospital. We received a lot of snow today, so the roads and conditions were terrible. On the long drive home, we were constantly hit in the windshield by flying rocks and stones. "We" don't salt the roads here in Alberta. Actually, we don't even plow the roads here in Alberta. Instead, they sand the roads with finely ground gravel. Trust me, it's not that finely ground. Few windshields make it through the winters unscathed. Anyway, every 5 minutes, a rock would hit the van and scare me. Thank God I don't drink coffee anymore (well, none with caffeine in it) or I would have been jumping and squealing each time. Caffeine does not bring out the best in me. I can provide a long list of people who have unwittingly startled me, and can back this up. Anyway, I was wishing I was driving Gary's truck, when this hummer flew past me, cut in front of us, spit a load of gravel onto the windshield... yadda, yadda, yadda, we have a 2 foot crack in the windshield of the van. Our poor Honda didn't stand a chance against that Hummer. Hummers are obnoxious, aren't they?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

So, I guess I'm starting a blog...

Ha! For years my husband has been trying to convince me to start a blog... and for some reason today, I decided to try it. It's pretty ironic that I am starting to blog at this stage in my life, since I really can't think of anything that I have going on in my life that would be of interest to anyone other than my Mom and Dad.... I have done some blog-worthy things in my life - I lived and taught for two years in Mexico, lived in the exotic state of Maine and went to school there, got married (yes, that is blog-worthy to some these days, lol) moved to Calgary in -40 degree weather - and yes, that was definitely blog-worthy to a winterhater like me, started having babies (and I don't have to tell anyone how many blogs there are about THAT these days). Eventually, my husband's work took us to Trois Rivieres, Montreal and then Paris (for the record, Paris was my favourite of our temporary work stints - no offence to the Hell Angels who were in neighbours in TR - also blog-worthy...).

After returning to Calgary from France with our two kids, we decided to have another. Maybe because of my age, maybe because I had worn out my fertility good luck, the third time was not easy. We had several miscarriages, eventually being pregnant with twins (one of whom is our wonderful Baby Kate). We lost one of the twins, and the rest of the pregnancy was extremely difficult. Bedrest is not as sweet as it sounds, especially when you have two young kids. I am not recounting any of this to be a debbiedowner; just to make the point that these were all blog-worthy times in my life.

Then, the week that Baby Kate was born, our oldest was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Those first few months with a newborn and sick older child were off-the-hook with stress for our family. There is a lot to learn with Type 1 Diabetes. Again, a blog-worthy series of events. Not that I had time to even shower, but that's not the point. Eventually, our son Brad was diagnosed with the same disease when he was 4 yrs old, and while it was very sad for us, it was not the devastating news it was the first time round.

In the last two years, many people have told me I should have a blog about raising two kids with Juvenile Diabetes. But, I am not interested in that. It holds little interest to anyone who doesn't also live with this type of diabetes. Plus, it can be a downer. And, we have happy lives. Our day to day lives are impacted every hour by diabetes, but we don't let it dictate everything we do. Or don't do. The truth is we have a lot of fun and lots of laughs.

I'm thinking about taking a cooking class, a decorating class, and every second day, I think of looking for a part time job. Just when I am convinced I should try to find a flexible part time job, I look at Kate and get kicked with guilt. My friend jokingly suggested I be a webcam girl. What's funny about that is that I think my neighbour is one.

It's late, this is way too long and boring for anyone, but at least the first post is behind me. Now, I can start complaining how if I see Sarah Palin refer to the "Real America" one more time, I will sick Tiger Woods on her. I actually have his number from my waitressing days. That was also during a previous, extremely blog-worthy period of my life. But, there was no internet then. Thank goodness for me and my reputation. I would hate for my name to be in the same sentence as the name Jamie Jungers.