New Sex Ed Curriculum in Ontario: In Her Words

Today, an article from the National Post crossed my path through a friend’s wall on facebook. I have been looking forward to hearing about the new Sex Ed curriculum in Ontario. It was an interesting read. I am actually thrilled that there are major changes coming. I was also super thrilled to see my bestie’s name as one of the parents they interviewed. Sarah is my sister. She is my people. She is also a high school teacher with three beautiful children. I spoke to her this morning after reading the article, and discovered she had said quite a bit on the subject and only a tiny bit was shared. With her permission, I wanted to share her actual responses she sent the reporter in the email interview. Not just to give her the opportunity to share her full response, but also because I agree with many things she says.

(Note: The Interviewer, Sarah Boesveld, will be identified by bold, Sarah Baker, my friend, will be identified by italics)


Now, I have not seen the new curriculum – only what was mentioned in the CBC article, and I can say some of it made me a little wary. I am wary, though, because I don’t want my kids to grow up. I want them to stay innocent and sweet and continue to think that unicorns are real and that all people are good. But the fact of the matter is, the unicorn thing has yet to be proven and some people suck.

 All children need to know all of the facts about sex so they are prepared to give consent or to say no. We prepare are children for various things throughout their lives, why not sex? If we hide it, and teach them that it is only discussed behind closed doors, it becomes something dirty and naughty (not in the good way). Do I want my kids to run out at the age of 12 and have sex? Heck no! Do I think teaching them about sex will encourage this? NOPE! I think learning about it will help my children understand it and know that it is special, but that it can be dangerous. I want my kids to be informed so they make informed decisions.

 Kids need to know that not all girls like boys, and not all boys like girls, and that this is ok. If we start teaching acceptance early, our children will feel more comfortable with who they are, and they will hopefully celebrate and love themselves regardless of sexual orientation. My children know that their uncle, my step-brother, is gay and that he will someday marry another man. And you know what? They understand and accept without question. When they are in the know, it is not scary. It is simply reality.

 

Ok – so on to your specific questions (sorry I am so long winded!)

What’s your reaction to what you hear will be taught in school and at what age? 

I really think that it is the perfect age to be educated about sex. Kids are smart, they start to ask questions. We shouldn’t hide sex – it is the very reason we have our beautiful children. Do I want to be talking to my kids about it? No. Will I? Yes, but I am happy to know that my kids will have a separate education at school where they can potentially ask questions that they may not be comfortable asking me or their dad. Kids are going to eventually have sex, so why not teach them how to be safe so we can prevent more 13 and 14 year olds from getting pregnant. Let it be a natural part of life and their education. As I said above, if we inform our kids properly they are better equipped to make informed decisions on their own, which is ultimately what we want for our children (or should want).

What kind of sex ed did you get as a child? From both your parents and your school?

I remember sex ed starting in grade 5 and we talked about girls getting their periods.  That is pretty much all I remember about it, but I know that we talked about sex “on the school yard”. We knew what sex was, we weren’t stupid, but we didn’t really know much about the logistics, so to speak. We never talked about safe sex. Next up with my high school grade 11 biology class, but that was more the scientific side.

 My mom bought me puberty/sex book with some fun cartoons. It answered a lot of questions that I never would have had the guts to ask her when I was 11, but it did let me know that sex is a good thing, but it was important to be safe. I still didn’t have anyone who I could go to with questions. I remember that a lot of the teen magazines also talked about it. And to be honest, that is likely where I learned the most about safe sex.

What do you hope will be taught in school? What do you plan to tell them yourself, if anything?

I hope they teach my kids that sex can be a lot of fun, as long as both parties are willing. I also want them to teach them about the LGBTQ issues that many kids are dealing with. So many kids think there is something wrong with them because they don’t like who they are supposed to like, or they are trans. So many of these issues can lead in to mental health issues. I know I will be open with my kids, and they will know that it is ok to be who they know they are, but it would be nice if the same message was being given at the school level as well.

 I also want them to know about safe sex and the proper protection to use. BOTH boys and girls need to know that no mean no, and that it is ok to not be ready to have sex in any form. Sex needs to be normalized within school walls.

 I know many parents will not agree with me – they, like myself, have a hard time with their kids growing up. But it is going to happen. Instead of fighting it, we should work with this schools and let our children know that they can ask any questions they want. Give them the information and let them decide what they are going to do with. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for – but maybe that is what parents are scared of?

You mentioned being anxious about answering any questions your kids might bring home about sex  – why? 

Like I said before – I don’t want my kids to grow up. I want them to stay little and innocent. My eldest still has not asked about sex, and when she asks about where babies come from, I can truthfully tell her that she and her brothers came out of my tummy (I had c-sections), although I have told Annie that some woman have babies come out of their vaginas, and she just shrugged her shoulders and went on colouring. My stomach does flips at the thought of answering the tough sex questions, though, but maybe that is because sex was never normalized for me? Between my mom just giving me a book and never talking to me about it, and the church telling me it was bad, I wonder if that is part of my anxiety? I never had that type of conversation modeled to me, so I question my ability to answer the questions. I know this sounds ridiculous, but as parents we become so protective of our kids that we can be irrational at times. I think discussing sex is hard because it is such an intimate act that is done behind closed doors and never openly discussed in front of children.

 I know when my kids ask me the questions, I will answer them, but I will not seek them out to tell them about sex. I know I am not alone in this, so maybe it is good that kids are going to be taught about sex, so they do bring questions home?


Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your interview with me and giving me the opportunity to share it with my readers.

It is my opinion that children are becoming aware of and curious about sex at a very young age. I hope to have an open dialogue with my children about sex, and have already started discussing the very basics with my 3 year old. Teaching our babies and toddlers consent starts with respecting their bodies and giving them the right to refuse physical touch. I want our son (and future other kiddo) to feel comfortable coming to us with questions, concerns and what they are going through.

Hooray for the Internet, Part 1.

The sun is shining. The weather is warm and we have been living outside lately. Unfortunately, there’s been a lot of stressful badness going on too, but we are surviving. I don’t want to get into all of that right now. I want to focus on the good, the amazing and the wonderful.

Last night, I was feeling sorry for myself. I started chatting with a couple of my friends. One of them, we will call her Friend B is having a hard time too. Friend A was being awesome, supportive and sweet to both of us. The three of us have known each other for years now, and are aware of the ups and downs we’ve been facing. We commiserated and Friend B suggested running away to get ice cream. I couldn’t, for a number of reasons and so she and Friend A got to plotting and next thing I knew, there was a care package attached to my front door.

It's almost as big as my head! SO MUCH ICECREAM

It’s almost as big as my head! SO MUCH ICECREAM

Now, what if I told you that I met Friend A years ago, online. She and I have only met in person once (and it was extremely awkward because of me being socially stupid). Friend B is basically her sister, and I came across her on livejournal, through Friend A’s posts. Eventually, I met Friend B because she is a car seat inspector and I wanted our Britax inspected before Liam’s birth. Since then, I had her inspect it again and she has popped by to buy some cloth diapers from me. We three have never hung out (well, they have, what with being sisters of the heart), but I still consider them friends. They know me better than most. Also, this entire conversation that we had? It was on twitter.

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My point in all of this is the following:

Hooray for the Internet!

I can honestly tell you that the internet, and the relationships that I’ve formed here, have probably saved my life (and definitely my sanity) on several occasions. I mean that seriously. Today I want to talk about how the Internet is responsible for the happiness in my life now. I will get into my past with the ‘net, but that will be another post for another day.

Hooray for the Internet, Part 1: Friends Today

Almost three years ago, on a hot summer day, after nearly a year of trying, I found out I was pregnant. I did what many moms-to-be do these day and I went straight to the internet. I have long been a fan of community groups and forums, so I did a search for groups that seem to fit. I joined some on Ravelry, BabyCenter and Mothering. I then remembered how helpful Wedding Bells had been to me when I was planning my wedding. I liked that it had so many local resources, so I searched and joined BabyBells there. Within BabyBells, I found a April 2012 Mommies subgroup and immediately joined.

If Heather of 2011, excited and pregnant, sitting in her office chair at Algonquin College, could look forward and see me today, she would be extremely surprised by the changes. With the exception of a specific few, my social group has completely changed since I announced my pregnancy. I am now surrounded and supported by the most incredible community of women. Most of whom, I met thanks to the internet. The rest I’ve grown close with because we decided to reconnect online.

 

The April Moms

We April 2012 Mommies are the first to admit that we are a unique group. It is extremely rare for a group online, especially a Mommy Due Date Group, to develop as ours did. We are an amazing tribe of women, of all backgrounds, all interests and parenting styles. Despite that, for the most part, we get along and love each other. We have supported each other through difficult pregnancies, losses, death, divorce, job loss, ups and downs in health (both physical and mental), drama, you name it. We’ve celebrated births, new jobs, love, laughter and friendship. I know that I can turn to these women, no matter what. And I have.

As you know, I had a really hard time after Liam’s birth. These are the ladies that helped drag me out of that. They were there at 3am when I was crying in the dark, nursing my child for the hundredth time. They were there on the sunny afternoon when I felt like I would never leave the house again. They were the ones that had my back when I decided it was time to get help. They were the ones that helped me decide that I needed it. One of these Moms, Crystal, was going through sometime similar. She talked to me whenever I needed it, no matter what. She convinced me to leave the house and attend our very first Ottawa April Mommies get together, hosted by Leslie. I was terrified. I’m so so glad I went. It was thanks to this outing that I started getting out of the house and living again. I nursed in “public” for the first time that day, in Leslie’s living room, surrounded by other nursing and bottle feeding mothers. Crystal sat beside me and nursed her little girl.

The group has changed a bit since then. Weddingbells closed down its forums (which have respawned over on Buzzle, kind of. Us April Moms are notorious on Buzzle. Bwahaha). Our posse has a group on facebook now and talk waaaaay more. Within this group, like in any gathering of individuals, smaller groups of friends have formed. For me, this includes My Girls. My Tribe.

We live all over the city, but we make a point to try and see each other at least once a week, at least those of us who are stay at home moms.  We keep in touch throughout each day on messenger. They are my people, my kid’s people. Hell, last year they took me out for a surprise birthday celebration, along with my fave lady, Sarah.

 

Beyond High School 

One of the great things about the internet for me has been the ability to keep up with people that I genuinely cared about when I was younger. One of these people was this rad girl, Steph, that was sort of on the periphery of my social group in high school. We met through her boyfriend, who was a friend of mine at the time. We’ve followed each other on facebook over the years, but didn’t do much interaction beyond that. When I was pregnant, I discovered she was as well! We started talking. It was her second, and I definitely felt like I could go to her for advice and knowledge. She invited me to participate in a Blessingway/Mother’s Blessing before Liam’s birth (I couldn’t make it because I got super sick), and visited me once I was well to gift me with some beautiful items the mamas made for everyone involved. She had also made a gorgeous bunny, which quickly became one of Liam’s favourite toys.

Liam and Mr. Bunneh

Liam and Mr. Bunneh

She wore her daughter that day, and opened my eyes to the world of non-buckle carriers. She nursed openly, without shame. I remember when she left, I turned to my sister and said “That. That’s what I want to be as a mother. Confident, calm, gentle and still awesome”. After Liam’s birth, she encouraged me to attend the babywearing get together‘s that she attended. There I met some incredible people and fell in love with the world of babywearing.

She lives on the other side of town, so we don’t see each other as much as I would like, but we keep in touch online. She and her family are moving to my neck of the woods soon and I am SO EXCITED. I look forward to seeing way more of this amazing family.

 

Lazy Stupid Godless

I’ve been a member of Ravelry for a long time. These days, I don’t have much time for the forums or for crafting, so I keep my Rav visits simple. I check my friend feed and check out LSG. LSG is an epic and infamous group on Rav. It stands for Lazy Stupid Godless, and it is full of all sorts. Some of these are totally incredible, brilliant and hilarious individuals. Of these, my favourite is easily Kaitlin. I added her to my friends list ages ago, and eventually started following her twitter account, where we started interacting. (I am a Super Creeper. If I think you are awesome, I will add you everywhere and hope that one day you will talk to me). Have you ever talked to someone, and realized instantly that there was a connection? Some little spark that spoke to you and said “This is one of your people.” Kaitlin is one of those for me. I followed her blog, and she followed mine. A couple years ago, she was looking into some information on Doulas in her area, so I reached out and we talked. We talked about being pen pals and slowly developed a friendship, despite having never met. She lives on the other side of the country, but that doesn’t matter. I feel like I can be completely open and honest with her. She gets me, and I get her.

 

Long Distance

Anyone who has ever read my blog knows that my sister and I are tight. She’s my best friend, without a doubt. Unfortunately, she also lives on the other side of the country. When she left we were sisters, but not nearly as close as we are today. Huh? How is that possible? Through the magic of the internet, that’s how. It took a while, I’ll admit. For some reason we just didn’t get that we could stay in touch online. One day it clicked, and we started emailing. All the time. The internet turned our relationship into something amazing. We talk constantly, about everything, whenever we need to.

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Similarly, my friend Sarah and I have been able to keep in touch. She lives about an hour away, in a beautiful small town. We don’t get to talk as often as we’d like, thanks to children and life. Thankfully, we have facebook, messenger and text messages to keep up on each other’s lives. She is my Sister from Another Mister.

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She, Tracy and my friend Leigh (who used to live in Montreal, and now in the US) were able to do all my crazy bridesmaid stuff despite being so far away from each other thanks to facebook and email. My girls. They were the very very best.

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So, there you have it. That’s part one of how I’m a massive geek who has had her life enriched my the internet. <3 More to come!

A hell of a week

Man, has spring ever arrived with a bang this year. I’m not talking about the weather, so much (though it has been lovely). For me, spring time always seems to be that time of year when the cobwebs get shaken out, where you are forced to deal with unfinished business from your past (often through awkward encounters. Every spring I run into an ex. Every. Single. Spring.), and life gets a little bit interesting for a little while.

This week I started the Feel Great in 8 Challenge and have been doing so-so. I’m finding it difficult to achieve my portions AND stay below my recommended calorie intake. Add to that 2 meditations or prayers a day and a gratitude journal…I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. I’m going to keep at it though. No one ever said that you would succeed the whole time, or that perfection the whole way through was the only way to the finish line. I’m not interested in the cash prize (though it would be a huge help), but rather trying to learn to live better.

I was planning on sharing my gratitude journal entries with you, however my phone decided NOT TO SAVE THE FILE. ARG! I love all but one entry (my very first one). So, I apologize, but here is what I have:

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In other news, I finally got my fitbit in the mail and have been enjoying it. I don’t know how people do 10k steps a day. I’ve been close, but I am just not that active. I guess that’s the point though – Now I know and now I can strive to improve.

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It matches my nails! I am such a dork

To round out the good portions of the week:

  • Excellent weather meant lots of time spent outside with little man. So. Much Fun.

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This also meant lots of time outside with our buddies! We were lucky enough to hang out with our pals several times this week.

  • Good news on the job front… I am going to be working with one of my co-workers on social media for the store! I have so many ideas brewing! Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to link what I can so that you guys can see the fruit of my labour.

On the “Hell” portion of the week, we’ve definitely hit some bumps. Money is extremely tight for us, and as a result, I’ve had to change up some planned spending (including my mother’s day plans) and we’ve had to re-examine the budget. It’s going to be a tough few months for us, but we’re going to try to make it work. Thankfully, this change in my job means a couple more hours a week for me. Every little bit helps, right?

Unfortunately, we’ve also had some really odd and unpleasant experiences. On Monday, we witnessed a dog leave the dog park portion of the play park and attack a few kids. Thankfully, our boys were in the swings and all the kids affected turned out to be ok. The dog, a very large one, seemed to be playing rather than aggressively attacking, but several small children were knocked over violently and pinned. The owner didn’t apologize, stick around OR attempt to control her dog. It was pretty upsetting for those involved. Then, on Wednesday night, coming home from work, I was nearly run off the road by a drunk or distracted driver. Thankfully, I was taught to drive defensively and so I was able to dodge safely. I managed to get the make, model and license plate, so I pulled over and reported it.

 

Finally (hopefully), yesterday, the boys were out playing at the park while we mamas chatted. We noticed the boys stomping in the solitary puddle (If there is a puddle, these guys will find it and epic stomp). We laughed and took pictures, until we noticed something was wrong. Their pants were changing colour. Huh? Turns out it was a puddle of bleach (we think). We all stayed calm and acted fast, so the boys were fine. Their clothes are ruined, and we were a bit shakey afterwards.

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Innocent looking puddle…

The result

The result

 

It was pretty scary. I am so thankful that my friend, Jenn, lives so close to the park. The boys loved having a bath together and ran around the house naked for a bit. I am extremely disappointed in how The City of Ottawa responded to the situation. Jenn called them, and was told that they would get to it within a business day. What? A puddle of chemicals, directly beside a toddler play structure, on a busy path, in a busy public park, beside a dog park?! With it being Thursday, a business day would mean it could sit for the whole weekend! I took to twitter to rant about the situation. I sent pictures and info to the city twitter page, the mayor, a radio station AND the local news. Not a single one replied. It wasn’t for naught though, Jenn reported this morning that at 7am city workers were out there cleaning the scene. I am just so thankful everyone was ok and that only clothing was affected. It could have been so so much worse.

Today has been a bit gloomy, with the winding down of a crazy week and thunderstorms brewing up above. This weekend we are emptying out the storage unit we filled with the last bit of my mom’s estate. I’m nervous… the timing is so ridiculous that we are dealing with this on mother’s day weekend (especially because I can’t celebrate or distract myself afterwards). I’m hoping that I can stay strong through this and that it’s not too hard on me, emotionally. Our home is about to have some big changes as a result of this stuff coming in. Hopefully it won’t be too chaotic. Wish us luck! I’m going to be buried under mountains of memories and cardboard boxes for the next while.

Hills and Valleys

Man, 2014 has been a rollercoaster for us. The last month or so, I’ve really been struggling.

The Downs

The Downs

-. In a very short span of time, our laptop was broken, my wedding rings went missing and we realized that were were in a tight spot financially. Of course, the lap top was where I did the majority of my writing. It allowed me to be present for Liam, and to feel a little less like a cave dweller (ugh, basements). Having it break was harder on me than I expected. As much as I enjoy my new cellphone (LG G2, for those curious), I HATE typing on the damn thing. I swear to god, I’m like an 80 year old with broken thumbs. The bigger screen and the different keyboard has made my life hell. This has resulted in me shutting down a bit in terms of my communication. It’s just too much work to speak that way now. So, there I was, speaking less, bummed about a turn of bad luck, stressed over broken things and lost tokens of love, knowing that financially, we could never replace any of them.

-. My eyesight has gotten worse. I don’t know if its that I am finally admitting my poor eyesight OR that my dependency on my glasses has made my vision worse, but I have gone from never wearing my glasses (or owning a proper pair) in the fall to now wearing them all the time. Unfortunately, because of where I live, my drive to work involves driving directly into the setting sun and I didn’t have a pair of sunglasses that were prescription. We really didn’t have the money for me to get one, but I was getting more stressed about dangerous driving conditions every time I went to work. Finally, we buckled and got me a pair from clearly contacts, but we both felt the financial strain immediately. Hopefully we get some of that back through Pat’s benefits at work. It was a hard week though.

-. Liam is going through….something. I don’t know if its teeth, his cold, the terrible twos, a wonderweek type thing, or what. The kid has been up and down like a yoyo and it has been exhausting. Major tantrums, big feelings, screaming, hitting, refusing to sleep, eating nothing or eating everything. It’s been hard to deal with.

-. About a month ago, I found out that a good friend of mine was going through a really rough time. Her mother had been diagnosed with brain cancer and had been given a short life expectancy. It broke my heart to see her go through that. Meanwhile, one of our own (an auntie), had just been diagnosed with colon cancer and had surgery coming up. Cancer has been terrible to me and mine, so I was pretty scared. Even with my friend’s mom, it triggered all sorts of emotions in me. I would really appreciate it if you kept both wonderful women in your thoughts.

-.I had two fillings break. Two. Finally found a dentist that would see me on a weekend and it ended up costing me almost 800. Yep. For two fillings. (Thanks to being a new patient, I needed xrays, a first time exam, etc.. etc…). Here’s hoping most of that is covered. Oh, and he says that I need a significant amount of work. Like, another 2000$ worth of work. Fuck.

-.I was dropped by our family GP (rather, she went away on sabbatical and decided not to come back), leaving me without a GP for myself or for Liam. Not a huge deal for most, but trying to find a GP that is cool with extended breastfeeding, bedsharing, babywearing and informed consent is harder than one might think. Further to that, I need someone who is ok with me having lots of questions and coming in for seemingly small things (without family to turn to and ask “Bwah? Is that normal?” I want to be able to turn to my doctor without feeling like an idiot). Of course, this also coincided with my prescription for antidepressants running out (as in, no more refills).

But! Nanny J recommended a Dr to us and I thought all was going to be fine…until that Dr and my pharmacist got into a pissing contest. You see, I can’t get in to meet her until April. After which time, she will decide if I “fit” her. She doesn’t consider me a patient until then. I went back and forth on the phone, between both offices, until finally the Dr sent a snarky fax to the pharmacist, which he then read to me. Thankfully, he saw my position and filled the prescription for me to cover me until I have this meeting with Dr. Pain in the Ass.

The fall out of this whole thing was that I ended up going 3 days without meds and I was completely overwhelmed with anxiety. On day three, I sat on my couch and cried silently, while Curious George kept Liam occupied. Thankfully, I had the right mind to reach out to my dear friend, Kaitlin. Just by being her awesome self and listening, I was able to calm down. I got myself out of the house, with Liam, to visit The Children’s Museum with Krista and her guy, Wes. It was AMAZING. I am definitely going back soon. Honestly, it was one of my favourite places I’ve been to with Liam.

And that leads me to…

The Good

The Good

-. I have amazing friends. No, seriously. These girls are there for me through thick, thin and crazy. They make me a better person.

-. WE FOUND MY WEDDING RINGS! WOOO! They were missing a month and a half, and were found in a pile of laundry (my guess is that Little Man took them on an adventure)

-.I am medicated again!! This makes all the difference in the world for me. I can cope now.

-.Auntie had her surgery this past week and it was a huge success! They think they got all of the cancer. Fingers and toes crossed!

-.My time away from electronics has led to some productivity with my hobbies:

Liam's gramps cardigan

Liam’s gramps cardigan

I am finally making progress on Liam’s birthday sweater. I am on to the main part of the body now. Probably about 6-8 more inches before I switch to ribbing, and then do the sleeves, collar, pockets and elbow patches. Woo! That’s on hold for a little bit though while I plug away at my RRG 2014 Olympic project:

Gaybreak WIP

Gaybreak WIP

Say hello to my very first shawl, my RRG 2014 Gaybreak. It doesn’t look very gay right now, but I’m just about to finish up the solid colour portion before starting on the rainbow bits. SO EXCITED. In the end, it should look something like this:

Photo by Red Pepper Quilts of her own Daybreak shawl

Photo by Red Pepper Quilts of her own Daybreak shawl

-. One of my very best friends just had the most gorgeous twins, ever. I’m so so excited. Honestly, this family is made up of my favourite people. I can’t wait to see them :D I’m hoping to visit them tonight.

-.I finally got to visit my sister from another mister, Sarah and two of her boys (Her hubby was at work, and her daughter was at school). We baked cookies, chatted, and had a great day together. I got to snuggle both of my nephews and my heart grew two whole sizes. It was awesome.

-. It’s the long weekend, y’all!

-. After being so completely bummed, depressed and manic, I have decided to try to get myself to a healthier place. I’ve been living on chocolate, takeout and coffee for months and its just not doing good things for me anymore. I’m back on SparkPeople if you want to follow my journey there.

-. I’ve started working on my family tree again. I was very overwhelmed after my dad died and I inherited his giant collection of geneology stuff. I just couldn’t compare to his professional approach to it. So, I’ve stopped trying. Instead, I’m taking my own damn approach. It’s much more casual and I’m finally enjoying myself again! To check it out, here is our page. 

Warm Fuzzies

I’m in a strange place right now. Not literally, unless you could my basement as odd (which, considering the velvet painting, random toddler toys and desk arrangement, that could be true). Not much has happened in our lives recently, and yet I am bursting at the seams with news and excitement that has nothing to do with me. I think it’s one of those moments where my current state of steadiness is so that those around me have someone to act as an anchor for them during their moments of great crazy.

I can’t share a lot of this craziness, as a lot of it isn’t my news to share. I will say that there’s going to be a lot of new friends for Liam in 2014, starting in the next week or two. On top of that, there has been new loves, old loves rediscovered, friendships strengthened and dreams realized. On that last point, I can divulge some info.

My sister is a hero of mine. She is one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever been blessed to know (both inside and out). She is incredibly self-aware and self-sacrificing, while also being incredibly independent and strong.

Tracy and Liam, 2013

Tracy and Liam, 2013

Recently, she recognized that she was unhappy and decided to do something about it. Within a month of this awareness and decision, she has made some serious changes and as a result, will be opening her own gallery and studio space with her business partner!

1002733_513961038658186_830275915_nFor those of you in Alberta, specifically Calgary, keep an eye out for LoveCraft! It’s going to be AMAZING.

As you can imagine, I am thrilled for her. So so excited. In our little nest, on the other side of the country, things are calm in comparison. Liam only had two wake ups last night (a major improvement from the 7 we normally have), and is starting to use more words! It’s incredible to watch him learn and begin to communicate verbally with us. We are making plans with family to travel south next winter when the boys (Liam and his cousin, Cass) are a bit older. We have so much to be thankful for and so much to look forward to. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to steal my sister from her insane life for a week or two in the Spring, but with the big changes happening, we may need to wait a while.

Hope all is well with you and yours. I’m off to snuggle my boy and drink some tea.

Return of the Light

I’m not sure if its the proximity to Christmas, or the fact that with Yule just around the corner, we have more darkness than light, but I have been having a bit of a tough time this week.

My nights, when I am able to sleep, have been plagued with difficult dreams (Pest infestations, dead babies, dying parents, lost love, fires, homelessness, fighting, lost friendships, etc…). I have been moody, sensitive and withdrawn.

I’m not sure if he’s mirroring me, or if he’s going through his own darkness, but Liam has been having a hard time too. He’s been extremely sensitive, violent, moody and has completely changed his sleep habits. He naps hours later all of a sudden, and is back to multiple difficult wake ups at night. He’s sleep walking, sleep talking and sleep punching.

Thankfully, I have some incredible friends. Yesterday, I was in a sad rage and they were able to talk me down in seconds. Pat has been my rock as well. He knows me better than I do sometimes. I decided to take a second and turn my negative moment into something positive. I wrote a quick note to someone who saved me years ago, who I never thanked before.

In University, I had some severe self-esteem issues. My depression was untreated and I had just gone through a hard break up. Pat and I had been dating for years, but neither one of us were happy any more. We loved each other, but were no longer IN LOVE. It broke both of our hearts to walk away, but we did it. I fell into another relationship very quickly afterwards and it took an unhealthy turn. Both my boyfriend and another boy in my life encouraged me to change my look. I was encouraged to diet, to cut my hair drastically, to change my clothes and pretty much everything about me. I dropped from around 140lbs to 120lbs in a very short amount of time through crash diets. These crash diets turned into an eating disorder, and the weight kept dropping. I didn’t see how unhealthy I was, despite my close friends telling me that a hand full of olives and two slices of lunch meat didn’t count as a healthy lunch.

My family didn’t know, or recognize it. Part of the problem was that my father was morbidly obese. Both of my parents were dealing with serious health problems, as were my father’s children. An answer to that was to start a popular diet at the time – Atkins. We encouraged each other to survive on only 20g of carbs a day, long past the 2 weeks detailed in the plan.

One day, in the Hums lounge, I was flirting with one of the boys I always had a crush on (We will call him “C”. He was gorgeous and knew it, emotionally damaged, treated me like crap) when one of my friends pulled me aside.

Kyle and I had never really been close. We had gone to high school together, but traveled in different social circles. Even though we had been in the same group of friends in University, we never really bonded. I was laughing and packing up my bag, when Kyle pulled me aside and told me he was worried about me. He spoke with me so kindly, gently and with so much compassion. He told me I was beautiful, but that I had lost so much weight, so quickly. He was scared for me, and wanted me to get help. His voice broke through it all. He shook me out of this fog I had surrounded myself with to survive my parents illness and my own self destruction.

That night, I weighed myself. In under a month, I had dropped from 143lbs to 108lbs. I could see my ribs. I washed my face and saw the dark circles under my eyes. I saw that outbreak of eczema that covered me in dry peeling skin. My hair seemed so thin and dull. What was I doing?

I never talked to Kyle about it again. In fact, I never really addressed it with anyone. I started eating more and more, gradually. I slowly gained back the weight, to around 125lbs. There I stayed for a while, until the end of University and another bad bought of depression.

Yesterday I sent Kyle a short note, thanking him for his kindness and his strength. In typical Kyle fashion, he responded so beautifully. He thanked me for thanking him (we are so Canadian). Suddenly, a bit of my darkness was gone. Today, I am having my girls and their boys over. We will eat scones, drink tea and watch our boys get into trouble. I will talk to my sister on the phone and I will do a tarot reading. I will cuddle my boy to sleep and guide him back to bed every time he wakes and cries. It’s almost Yule. It’s almost time for the light to start coming back.

The Darkness before the Dawn

It’s been a strange weekend. Last week, on Tuesday, I met with the estate lawyer to discuss the final things that need to be done before we can finally move on from this. One of the massive pieces left is the final accounts for the estate. This task has been given to me, as I’ve been the keeper of the accounts all along. I had spent many hours putting something together and was feeling pretty confident in it when I arrived at the lawyer’s office after work that evening. I had no idea how far off I was. It’s sort of like thinking you will nail an exam and are totally when you walk into the room, and then once you see the exam, you see how screwed you really are.

What I had put together was sort of like an essay outline. It didn’t have nearly the amount of detail that was required of me. So, I was broken down and provided with lots of good tips on how to make it what it needs to be. I took that home and sort of poked at it a few times during the week. On Thursday, the Lawyer called and informed me that we needed this task mostly done for this coming week. Nothing like a deadline to get me going.

So, like tackling an essay for my very tough University program, I started with a plan. First, I would clean and reorganize the office (Always need a tidy place to work, otherwise I can’t focus.), then, I would go through everything I had from the estate. And I mean EVERYTHING. Photos, boxes of random crap, all the way up to the filing cabinet in my office. Why? Just to be sure I wasn’t missing anything. Then, once everything was tidy and organized, I would start. Good plan, right?

Me, in my final year of University, watching a lecture and working on essays. Super organized...right? Right.

Well, last week was rough. The lawyer’s appointment forced me to look at the whole estate business again. I had to go back and look at things that occurred the day Mum died, and onward. Then I got together with one of my oldest friends, Tyler. Tyler and I have known of each other since Grade 2 (we were in class together), but we weren’t actually in the same social group until Grade 9 (when I first crushed on him. He took me to the Grade 9 formal, as a favour to a friend), which brings up all sorts of nostalgia and thinking about our old group of friends and where we all ended up.

Tyler and I, a few years ago

Work continued to be difficult, and I was suddenly hit by major holiday blues. By the time Friday rolled around, I was emotionally spent. So, I took the day to clean our main floor and relax a bit. By Saturday, it was time to tackle the office, and get to work on the hard stuff. By the time I was done with the initial draft, I stared exhausted at the time – 1:30am.

Today I emailed the draft to the lawyer, with a ton of notes and a massive list of homework for myself left to do. I have to call a couple banks, wait for a response from an Investment group and hope that in the mean time, more drama doesn’t explode. I still have to figure out how to buy a week’s worth of groceries in between paycheques (after bills, meaning limited to non-existant funds), and get some baking done for a charity bake sale my husband is participating in.  I don’t feel like I’ve had a weekend at all. I’m so…spent. I just have to keep focusing on the positives:

  • The estate is almost done. The harder I work now, the sooner and the better the end will be
  • Once the estate is done, that drama is out of my life for good
  • In January we can wipe out the majority of our debt and start renovating our home

We will get there. I just need to fight through this last final stretch. The hardest stretch. The most thankless. I can do it.

A fine line

This post has been bubbling around my mind for the last week or so. I apologize if this comes out as a stream-of-consciousness thing, rather than really clear points. I’m still pretty in the middle of it, so it’s hard to write it out without musing a bit.

I am the daughter of a very strong, well respected lady. My mother, Pat, was small in size, but full of piss and vinegar (as my father would say). People didn’t screw with my Mom. I never really saw her lose it on anyone, but she had a quiet confidence and really clear boundaries that everyone respected.

Pat - One hell of a woman

I remember hearing a story from her time with the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force). She only ever got as far as Captain, despite her long career with the military. When asked why, she responded that she loved being a nurse. She loved being in the OR and seeing interesting cases. She loved continuing to learn and marvel at the human body. She did not love, however, paper work. A promotion or a rise in rank would require a desk job, which would have been  miserable for her. Despite stepping on many toes and dashing many plans, my mother refused to leave surgery, and when the military couldn’t offer her more, she retired and went to a local hospital instead.

My mother was a spit-fire. She was everyone’s big sister, and somehow brought a family of feuding Sutherlands together during some really hard times. She had a look that shut the loudest of mouths, and a presence that terrified the crap out of all of my guy friends in high school. She didn’t put up with crap from anyone, including my father. An example:

My mother loved her version of camping (which was so far from roughing it, it was laughable. She owned a giant parking trailer, with three queen beds, a full kitchen, a full bathroom and a TV). Growing up, the trailer was parked at a site where I had friends, and where my Dad’s best friend camped. As years went by, we all stopped going up – except for Mum. She decided that she wanted to move the trailer to a site that suited her needs and where she had friends. I didn’t mind, but Dad was pissed. Even though he never went up he liked having the option to see his oldest buddy up at this campsite. Mum explained her side (She went up every weekend during the summer, Dad went maybe one weekend a season, she wanted friends to spend time with, Dad wasn’t as close with his friend anymore, etc…), Dad argued and eventually it came down to an ultimatum – If Mum moved the trailer, Dad would never go up again. So there. He was mighty pleased with himself, thinking that he had put a stop to that nonsense. The next summer, the trailer was moved to a much fancier park (The old one only had a natural lake and a corner store about 30 minutes away by foot. The new one? Man made quarry, a pool, a hot tub, a bingo hall, an icecream parlour and a store…plus, her besties all camped there). Mum loved it. I have never seen her happier then when she spent a summer at the trailer.

My Dad? Not impressed. Eventually, Mum would spend WEEKS at the trailer, always inviting him, but he always turned her down. She never backed down though. She refused to sit at home and mope like my father. She wanted to be out, having fun and spending time with her friends, so she went. Dad got more and more bitter about it, and she tried to convince him to come, but she never backed down (even when there were whispers that he wanted to leave her, because it’s not like she spent any time with him during the summer anyway. Oh Dad, you melodramatic boob). Eventually, I think , he spent maybe 2 weekends with her before he passed away.

So, the point of these stories? Aside from sharing how awesome my Mum was, I wanted to point out that she stood up for herself, knew when to put her foot down and stuck to her guns, even up against my father (who could pout and sulk with the best of them). Why? Because in my 28 years of life, no one ever called her a bitch. Now, this could have been out of fear. She was fierce when she was pissed. I just wonder what I’m doing wrong that I’m being perceived a completely different way.

When my mother died, the Sutherland family fell apart. Maybe it was because she was the glue that held us together. Maybe she brought out the best in everyone and kept us in line. I don’t know. It might be something as simple as grief and greed. No matter the cause, the family was split and with her death, I lost not only the children my father had from his first marriage, but their children, their friends, and, sadly, most of my Mum’s local friends (specifically one who was like an aunt to me, and was there, beside me, when Mum had her stroke in my arms). Why? Well, from what I’ve heard the common belief is that I’m a manipulative, greedy, pathetic, power hungry bitch.

It was a big family, once. (Not shown: one nephew and my Dad.) Faces not blacked out: Mum, Tracy, Me, Pat.

There have been many reasons given about why I’ve been treated the way I have been, and why this is the popular belief held by these people who have known me most of my life. I will certainly admit that I haven’t always been the picture of grace and civility since my mother died, however I don’t know anyone who could be. The issues that I’m dealing with now, however, are a bit tricky. We’re getting near the end, which is a wonderful amazing thing. There are a few things that are a Big Deal and my job as co-executor is to protect my sister and I during this process. That’s why I was chosen. So, I’ve been putting my foot down, and unfortunately, and not unexpectedly, the reaction hasn’t been good. People are PISSED.

Beyond the estate, I’m struggling with this in my daily life as well. I am a definitely a child of both my parents: I have my mother’s fire and stubbornness, but I also have my father’s deep well of emotions and sensitivities. I feel, and I feel strongly. I care very much what people think of me, and I’ve realized that I’ve done a lot and put up with a lot in my life for the sake of being liked. I don’t like causing waves, I don’t like bringing up difficult topics. For me, it seems to make more sense to suffer through, rather than put other people in a difficult position.

In my personal relationships, I have been pushed to the point of putting my foot down and in some cases, the result was the end of a relationship or friendship. In every case, I feel as though I did right by me, and that I’m happier for it today. (In one specific case, I had watched the fiance of a close friend treat her like shit for a long period of time. I told her she deserved better, and when I suspected that he was cheating, I told her. She chose to marry him anyway, and I stood up there with her as her maid of honour, because I supported her right to making her own decisions and her desire for happiness. Within months of the wedding, she was shocked to discover that he wanted an open marriage and that he had been seeing someone else. I provided her support, but told her I wouldn’t be involved in the separation. I could give her comfort, but I would not play spy or pick sides (I had close ties with the husband that I couldn’t break at the time. Didn’t make me happy, but it was complicated). This wasn’t good enough, and I was asked to choose sides on a number of occasions. I refused. I stood my ground and told her I needed space until the situation was resolved. Our friendship ended.  In another case, I had a friend who felt that when my parents were sick, she couldn’t handle that kind of heaviness in our relationship, so she asked me to hide that part of my life from her. She also felt that Pat wasn’t attractive enough or good enough for me. She told me this on many occasions and told me to leave him all the time. I refused to be a fair weather friend or listen to someone bash my boyfriend. I  ended the friendship. I don’t regret these decisions or the outcomes.

At work, like in many of my past jobs, I have not been treated very well. Pat is beside himself with me and the situation, because he is such a fighter. He can’t stand injustice or bullying. He faces it head on, for others and for himself. I have a really hard time defending or sticking up for myself, and often, I find myself completely miserable and beaten down because I’ve allowed things to get so bad (Often, people will continue to take advantage and stomp on you if they know they can get away with it, and will continue to do so until you break or are forced out).  Right now I’m in an especially perilous situation because I’m a part-time contract worker at a college that always has a ton of people looking for work and, of course, because I’m pregnant.  So, do I stand up for myself against permanent full time union members? Do I stand up to my manager, who could replace me in a matter of hours? Or do I keep my mouth shut and do my job for the next 4 1/2 months?

Me, ~20 y.o.

So, how do I balance this fine line between doormat and bitch? How do I learn from my mother and remain true to myself, despite immense pressure to be “nice”, “civil” and “easy-going”. I have learned, wrongly, over the years that to be happy I need to be liked. To be liked, I have to be the constant easy-going “Yes” person. I want to be respected. I want to be a person of integrity. I want to be happy, because whatever this is, it isn’t it. I am about to be a mother. I want to someone that my child looks up to. I want to be able to teach them that they are someone worth defending too.

A rambling fall post

It’s been one of those weeks that just wears you right down to the ground. There’s been family drama, estate drama, the death of my year old iPhone, work troubles, hormones, nightmares, illness, serious money troubles, you name it. October has been hard on us. Today S and her wee ones popped by for a visit and some running around. I swear, there’s nothing like having your nearest and dearest around when you’re going through hell. I also heard that L is coming to town next week for work, so I’m going to be even more spoiled with some bestie time.

You can feel autumn in the air, the chill, and the smell of the leaves. I usually love this season, but it’s always a hard time of reviewing what you have around you and the drawing end of the year. I’ve been thinking a lot about Samhain and what we’re going to do this year. I haven’t really been practicing much. Honestly, since losing my mother, I’ve been afraid to get back in touch with my faith. It’s like that saying “Once bitten, twice shy”. I’ve been so afraid of getting in touch with that part of myself. I’m thinking I’m going to make either Red Moon’s Honey and Lavender cake or some kind of spice cake. I’m thinking about doing some kind of ritual for the dead. I don’t know. Being pregnant, I’m not in the mood to go out partying like in past years. Maybe we’ll just stay home and watch scary movies. I’ve been dreaming of my parents almost every night this month.

On a cheerier note, my workplace has decided that we should dress up for Halloween. Being preggo makes that difficult for me, until I saw this:

Yes. It has been purchased and shipped. I picked up a black shirt from Old Navy today while out with S. You can be a fashionable preggo this Halloween too! Here’s the shop where I found it.

The cold is helping to revive my creative spirit though, which is nice. I’m plotting some knitting projects (finish the hat for Pat, start on a scarf for a friend and of course – BABY STUFF). I’ve been thinking about getting back into journaling and maybe even drawing. Being forced inside isn’t always a bad thing I suppose. Also, I’ve been recently inspired to try my hand at a few new crafts. Firstly, here is a LOVELY wreath that Danielle made over at PHIT:

Didn't she do an amazing job? I love those colours!

Seriously, run over to her blog and tell her how amazing that is. My friend Krista of Dandelion Express made a wreath too:

Again, aren't these ladies super talented?

I just need some felt, I think, and these could be mine. I even have a foam wreath frame thingie from when I was thinking about making a mobile for a co-workers baby. (PS, don’t try making a hand knit mobile for a co-workers baby 2 weeks before the baby is due. You will never finish.) The mobile in question:

How cute, right?

I have the worm dragonfly body done. Yeah. That’s it. Here’s the Rav pattern page.

BUT! Despite that failure, I am considering attempting some felt mobile ideas for Babeh. I came across from obscenely cute ones on etsy:

Adorable! So colourful and happy! All for the low low price of…65?! Yeaaaaah, no. It gets worse too. We’re thinking about doing a woodland themed nursery (by we, I mean me. Heh.) She has a woodland themed mobile:

NEED IT.

It’s 75$. Yes. 75$. So, I’m thinking of spending maybe 20$ on felt and supplies and going from there. I think I can do it :D  Here’s the etsy store if you are interested.

Anyway, I’m off to listen to some more Neko Case and maybe even enjoy a book. Have a great weekend everyone <3

Tuesday Day Book and Preggo Update

I’ve been so exhausted lately, I have a hard time putting together a real post, so in the mean time, I think I’m going to continue with my Tuesday Day Book and maybe move them to Fridays add  Preggo posting. I’ll put mine together today to give you a bit of a catch up on the preggo before diving into week 15 at the end of this week.

A peek at the past week (how I’ve been): Exhausted and emotional. I have been all over the emotional roller-coaster. Unfortunately, I’m also fighting some nausea again (that’s what I get for speaking too soon about it being gone). I’ve also been pretty stressed out over estate/family/other stuff, which isn’t helping. Overall though, the pregnancy has been good. I wasn’t severely sick at any point, and my family/friends have been really understanding about my lack of energy. Looooots of nightmares lately, which isn’t fun. Seem to be having many reoccurring dreams about my family home and my parents.

EDD: We’re telling people we’re due early/mid April.

How far along am I? At this point, I’m 15 weeks.

I am thinking… a lot. Dreaming and plotting for baby, considering our options, what we need, what we want, etc… Thinking about family and loss, and how life will be without our parents to help us. Plotting the nursery, for sure!

I am thankful for… really understanding co-workers, being invited to a woman’s full moon native group (more on that later!), finding a GP who is taking patients who happens to work with a pediatrician, having a great husband who happens to be my very best friend.

From the kitchen… Nothing interesting. We’ve been on a really tight budget, and have been trying to eat as cheaply as possible. Baked Spagetti has been feeding us this week, and I’m going to be making some kind of chicken dish in the next couple of days. Plotting freezer meals for when baby comes so that I’m not stressed about food.

I am wearing…Maternity clothes! my body has moved on to full on bump, so very little from my normal wardrobe still fits. Also, finally got myself some new bras from Bravissimo. SO MUCH COMFIER.

I am creating… A toque for the hubby, and not much else. Been thinking about getting back to my art journal that I started forever ago. Plotting baby projects (another post to come)

I am going… to a children’s museum this weekend with Sarah and her little girl. Can’t wait!

I am reading… Living with the Dead, by Kelley Armstrong, The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (SO GOOD) and The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer

I am hoping… for a break! Life has been nuts lately!

I am hearing… The new Tori album, and lots of Neko Case.

Around the house…Lots of change. We’re hoping to do some major work to the house within the next 6 months. Starting this weekend, we’re going to be doing some purging, with plans to completely re-do the basement and either turn the space down there into our new living space (office, tv, etc…)

One of my favorite things…The Walking Dead. SO GOOD. Also, the gifts for baby that we’ve already received. Whenever I had a rough day, I go through our bag of stuff and daydream.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Cleaning and then hanging out with Sarah this weekend. Otherwise, just get through the week.
Weight Gain: So far, I’ve gained about 5lbs in the first trimester. I’m now in the 2nd. Woo!
Movement/Signs o’ Baby: Nothing yet. Soon hopefully. Heartbeat has always been good at all of our appointments, so that’s good!
Cravings: Lately? Chocolate milk.
Other Random Babeh/Pregnancy thoughts: We’re hoping to have a intervention free birth. This means, ideally, we don’t want any medical inductions, no pain medication as a little interference from the medical world as possible. That said, I am open to all of these things if emergency dictates.