For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Moving On, and see what else has been going on.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Take a look...

It's been ages since I've posted - lost of personal stuff I can't really talk about here.  However, I wanted to take a moment to share this.

At the time of this writing, it's actually at $1,997,432USD  (the amount changed between my post here, and my cross post at Moving On), raised of $2,100,000 goal, 95% and 5 days left.  They are so close to raising the funding to tell the story the media has ignored.  Even pro-choicers should be clamouring to put an end to stuff like this (and Gosnell is by no means an outlier) and get this story told, if they truly believe in women's health and safety.

My budget is tight, but I just made a second $25 donation today, but donations as small as $1 can be made.  Every penny counts!  Please click on the graphic above and donate whatever you can afford.

Thank you.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

What Can I Say?

It's been a long time since I've written, and there are many reasons for this.  I am definitely living in interesting times.

On the home schooling front, the little ones have been thriving on an unschooling atmosphere that doesn't involve neglect and abuse. :-/  They have made huge improvements on all fronts, and are even dabbling in more "formal" learning activities, such as work-book type activities.  They've been doing some lapbooks with their mom.  Actually, that should be past tense.  Lately, they've been caught up on the Rainbow Loom trend.  I admit that I'm not a fan of the things made with rubber bands.  I find the texture unpleasant.  While I can appreciate the intricacy and skill in using the looms - enough that I've actually been tempted to try it, until I stop and wonder what I would do with things I don't actually like all that much - I find the appearance of the bands rather unattractive.  Each to their own.  What does appeal to me about these is that they require a level of fine motor control that has been really good for Beetle Child in particular.  A lot of people with mobility challenges, such as their mom and another resident at the care centre, are finding these looms really excellent in maintaining motor control.  An unexpected benefit to the craft, though one that makes a lot of sense, when you stop and think about it. 

Looking at previous posts, I am realizing I haven't written much since the move.  Unfortunately, there's a lot that, even writing anonymously as I am, isn't anything I should write about here.

Among the big issues we've been dealing with is my husband's health.  He's looked at going on short term disability, but it's not an option for us right now, mostly because the insurance is 75% of his pay.  We can't afford that, so he is forcing himself to work through the pain.  Eldest has got herself a PT job to help pay the bills, putting her own online art business plans on hold.  Youngest has taken a lot of stuff over on the home front, freeing me to drive DH to physio, doctor's appointments and, on the days he can make it in, the office.  Because of the frigid weather, I've been driving Eldest to work (the company that hired her put her into a branch that has no bus service!), still driving the little ones to visit their mom as often as possible and, of course, doing all the usual errands.  I've even been teaching a fair number of crochet classes, which is interesting because this time of year is usually dead for classes.

With all the stuff going on, and after a few incidents, we had to make a hard decision and asked the mom to find another family to take the children in.  We simply are not in a position to give them the care they need, and what they need is a whole lot of one-on-one time, patience and therapy, among other things.  It took a lot of effort on her part, but she has made progress. The problem is that the social worker involved was required, by law, to track down the dad. 

Unfortunately, she succeeded.

I first found that out when I found a voice mail from him.  It was very brief, but he did manage to threaten me before announcing that he would be back in the country within 2 weeks.

That means he should be back by the middle of March.

When the girls found out about this, they both became incredibly distressed.  The Watcher started to cry.

Whether or not he actually shows up, we shall see, but we now have a time frame.  We should now be able to get their mother an Emergency Protection Order, while we can finish the process of getting a Restraining Order.  With all the various charges he faces once back, I'm kinda hoping he'll be persuaded not to return.  It would be a lot better for the girls, that's for sure.  The poor things are so torn.  They do want to have a relationship with their father - that's right and normal.  The problem is, he's not capable of giving them a healthy relationship. 

More alarming is that, from the few communications their mother has had from him since he stopped trying to control us, he has become increasingly fanatically Islamic.  He wasn't a particularly devout Muslim while in Canada, yet it was still the focal point of some of the more severe abuse they suffered under him.  It would be so much worse now. 

(I had to pause part way through the above paragraph.  I was hearing some strange noises from the girls' bedroom.  It sounded like one of them was crying in alarm in her sleep.  When I came in to check, neither of them recalled making the noises I heard, and neither remembers any sort of dreams.)

So instead of the girls being prepared to move in with whichever family their mother chooses for them - something they are actually rather excited about, even as they voice questions about how much they'd be able to see their mother, or the friends they've made - they are having to deal with the trauma and fear that their dad will come back, and they'll be forced to live with him again.  The situation would be far more abusive than it was before, and any progress and healing they've had over the past months would be crushed.

It's remarkable, how much damage one person can do to so many lives.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ups and Downs

Things have really been all over the place lately.

On the up side, we've transferred to a larger unit in our co-op.

Which is also a down side.

Moving sucks. 

We've gone from a 3 bedroom townhouse to a 5 bedroom townhouse.  We were able to use the last 9 days or so of the month to move, which we did slowly.  Very slowly.  We all got sick.  First, The Watcher got a mild cold.  She recovered quickly, though she did try to milk it for all she was worth at first.  I had a talk with her and she stopped the behaviour, which was a help.  Unfortunately, she passed the cold on to the rest of us.

Except her sister, Beetle Child, who got a UTI.  We'd been working with her on the bedwetting, with little success and a whole lot of stress on me.  Unfortunately, we couldn't get past the fact that she 1) didn't care and 2) had been convinced by her father that she was incapable of controlling her bladder.  We got rid of the pull ups, stopped putting a soaker directly under her, instead putting it under a plastic sheet, and otherwise threw in the towel and let her deal with the consequences.  That turned out to be a painful UTI (she'd had others before, without knowing it).  Though painful, she acted as if it were the end of the world.  At least she tried to.  She didn't get much of a rise out of us, so she tried it with her mother, which cut a visit short.  I have no doubt she was experiencing some pain, but the exaggerated performance ended before we even got home, and stopped entirely after that.  We weren't impressed, considering the stress we were going through with the move at the time, on top of myself, Eldest and Youngest being thoroughly ill.  Dh, thankfully, didn't catch it until *after* we got to the point that he could start sleeping in the new unit (he had to wait until our Internet got transferred, so he could work from home).

This is move number 18 for me, and it was the most difficult and stressful of all of them.  You'd think it would have been less stressful, considering we were moving such a short distance.  Except we were moving from a 2 floor unit, with an outside set of stairs that are equal to 1 1/4 floors, to a 3 floor unit with 2 indoor sets of stairs.  Plus, the old unit had the balcony stairs, which are split into 3 sections and equal about 1 1/2 floors.

I stopped and tried to calculate it when we were finally done.  In one 4 day stretch, I figure I walked the equivalent of 300 floors.  Or, should I say, 150 floors up, then 150 floors down.  There was the up and downing within the old unit, my frequent runs outside to and from various things, plus the stairs in the new unit, over and over again.  My last morning of moving, I did the equivalent of 30 floors of stairs in 2 hours, plus the walk between units, before I finally crashed and burned, scaring the heck out of Dh.  Dh was banned from helping because of his back problems, which have gotten worse lately, and Eldest and Youngest were both so sick that, at one point, I was the only one left who could continue packing and moving things, and even that was only because I medicated to the gills.  Eldest and Youngest, sick as they were, were amazing in getting things done.  I could never have managed without them.

But it's done now, and we're slowly unpacking.  The unit is so completely different from the previous one, it's difficult to figure out where and how to unpack.  Odd differences.  For example, we now have 3 bathrooms.  The first floor bathroom is a half-bath, just like the main floor bathroom in the old place.  The difference?  No medicine cabinet.  Plus, it's slightly narrower.  So we can't just move the stuff from one bathroom to the other; it doesn't fit.

Then there's this odd thing about the second floor bathroom, which is a 4 piece bathroom.  The sink is mounted off centre in the counter.  There is actually more counter space than our previous full bath, yet there is less storage space.  For some reason, instead of installing drawers under the part of the counter that doesn't have a sink in it, the drawers are on the opposite side.  The top drawer is only about 6-8 inches long, and the bottom one is maybe 10 inches long.  Barely anything fits in either of them.  Meanwhile, the cupboard doors beside them still have some of the piping running through part of the space, so even that section doesn't have as much room as our previous bath.

As if that weren't strange enough, the toilet is so close to the counter, my arm rubs against it when I use it, but there's plenty of space between the toilet and the tub.  I'm thinking the counter got extended at some point.  Whatever the reason, the lack of space means there's no way we could put in our over the toilet shelf, even if we still had it.  It didn't survive the move.  There's also no place to put the cart we were using for towels nd washclothes.  We'd kept it below the towel rack before, but now there's a toilet roll holder in that space.  It does at least have a medicine cabinet but, again, there's no way we can simply transfer one bathroom to another.

Then there's things like getting rid of our desk.  It was a great desk, but huge and heavy.  It couldn't go upstairs, where we have the computers and Internet hooked up (Dh now has a workstation in the master bedroom, where we have also been finally able to assemble the weight machine we got for him as part of his physio).  As our new unit has a ground floor front door, the girls' mom will be able to visit us, so we want to keep it as open as possible for her to be able to maneuver her wheelchair (we even have little ramps we can put down to make it easier for her to get in and out!).  So, no more desk, which means all the stuff that was in and on the desk is now homeless.

On the up side, Eldest and Youngest have the entire 3rd floor to themselves, including a bathroom that is bigger than the bedroom I've converted into my office/crafting room.  Three of the 5 bedrooms are huge, and Eldest even has a balcony, where Youngest will be doing gardening in the spring.  Eldest tried to put a priority on setting up her art desk and supplies, so she could get back to work as quickly as possible, but it still took a while.  She almost used up her entire buffer of pages before I was able to get the computer and scanner set up for her to get new ones up and ready.  Youngest, meanwhile, finally has her own private space, with room enough to practise her guitar (though we still can't afford to start her lessons up again).  She plans to get herself a rocking chair, so she can sit in a corner and rock while working on her crochet.

Then we had an upside that turned into a downside.  There was actually a possibility that The Watcher and Beetle Child's mother could move into our co-op, as several accessible units came available at the same time.  Unusual enough on its own, but even more unusual because nobody died, which is how accessible units usually come available.  The units are all 2 or 3 bedrooms.  The accessible units typically have a multi-year waiting list, and their mom has been on it for at least 2 years.  In fact, the only reason she lost the girls to their dad was because there were no accessible units with care staff like we have, anywhere in the city.  Her membership was approved in general, and a 2 bedroom unit had been set aside for her, but the care staff and provincial home care had to approve it, too.  Everything was looking good, and we were actually looking forward to helping her move in the next few weeks.  That would have allowed the girls to see their mom every day, if she were up to it, and we were even planning on transitioning them to her on a permanent basis over the next year or so.  Then home care determined her needs were too much for our care staff and didn't approve the move.  How utterly disappointing, and extremely frustrating.  There's a lot behind it I won't mention here, but I'm pretty pissed off over some of the reasons she got turned down.  There's another major down side to this happening, too, but I am not going to write about it here.  At least not yet. 

Aside from all that, the new girls have been doing really well.  One of the huge changes is that, in the last while, they have been doing a lot of truly creative play, and without having to have someone walk them through things.  At home, they've actually started playing with their Lego creatively, which they hadn't been before (how does a child not figure out things to do with Lego??), they've both started reading for pleasure, and their imaginative play has become more... well, imaginative!  With their mom, they have been doing lots of arts and crafts type things and playing games and discovering that math doesn't have to be boring and painful, but can actually be fun and useful.

There are still issues, of course.  A lot of them are the sorts of issues one would normally expect for a 9 and almost 8 year old, but made more complicated by the damage done to them by their dad.  Their speech problems are still an issue, but it will take time and a lot of effort for those to be helped.  Their vocabulary is increasing, yet sometimes they both suddenly play dumb and don't know the meanings of words they know and have heard and used themselves, many times.  Beetle Child had stopped bedwetting for a while, what with the UTI and all, only to start up again for no conceivable reason; she went from being pleased with herself for being able to hold it all night, to not even bothering to use the toilet before bed, then wetting herself in less than an hour after lying down.

A much more dramatic improvement is in their learning how to communicate in a more direct manner.  They had picked up on their dad's habit of talking in circles around what they actually wanted to say, rather than say it directly.  That resulted in utter and complete incoherency at times.  Now they are learning to stop and think through what they want to say, and to say it concisely, rather than the verbal diarrhea they were doing before.

All in all, the improvements are huge, which sometimes makes the difficulties which remain that much more incomprehensible.  Every now and then, they just seem to regress.