Saturday, November 29, 2008

flying solo

I am finding this new responsibility of being thrust into the world of solitary decision making terrifying...But I am doing it and it's okay. I would prefer to bounce all these thoughts, necessary choices and responsibilities off of Jeff, but I can't. So as I forge ahead with my life alone, I am finding these mountains that I am climbing difficult; but in someways, I am getting better at them. I am learning to trust myself and the believe that I can make these decisons alone. That I know what is right for me...or us.
Today, I sold our car. The car that Jeff bought me for Valentine's Day in 2006. The car Jeff died in. My little blue Toyota Matrix. It was small, safe and economical....But we had the truck for carrying larger loads and muddy dogs. I didn't need to bring multiple children in the car very often as I wasn't caring for anyone other than my kiddos or the occasional playdate.
But now, life is different. I am going to need to look to a future where I can bring in an income and care for my children alone. I need to be able to move objects by myself and cart various things home that would not fit in my little car.
So now, I own a minivan. I decided and made the deal myself. It was scary and I kept worrying that I was being taken advantage of....Possibly a bit paranoid. But I did it. Myself.
The kids and I quite like the van. It's a few years older than the car thus making it more affordable. It's clean and safe. It is blue just as my little car was...Jeff's favourite colour as Liv pointed out.
Liv had her trepidation about the van. She cried the first night and asked me to go get the car back because it reminded her of Daddy. I remembered crying when my dad talked of selling our little Vauxhal (a little white German car that our family had when I was a child - it`s floor was rusted out, we would watch the road go by as we drove along and we sang songs about `Daddy`s little Vauxhal`). It was certainly a different circumstance but I could empathize with her feelings of security and comfort in the car....especially after losing so much this year. But now, it is like a fort. She wants to show all her friends her new van. They ask to `play in the van`. I am loving the space and the ability to comfortably take our friends along.
So although one door has closed, another has opened. I do feel sad. I do have such fond memories of our little car that I had thought the kids would learn to drive. But I must be flexible and not hold onto things that do not provide the needs we now have just because they are a link to Jeff. This is a hard lesson to learn. But I am doing it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

this coming seasons' inspiration

I am so inspired by so many of the blogs out there in the blogosphere. Recently, I came across this post and had the "I have to do that" feeling. Although I am not a lover of the holidays (over-consumption, divorced parents, too much travel, and the nauseating push towards ridiculous amounts of consummerism) fact, I am largely a nay-saying grinch, but I am really attemping to give my kids a Christmas that they may remember for something a little more than just sadness and the void their sweet daddy left behind. So here I am trying to pull together a Christmas built with anticipation and joy. And I am going to borrow something we did in church as a child (although I am not religious and no longer attend church). We built ourselves an Advent wreath. One of the things I so love about Waldorf education is the bringing together of various seasons, diversity, cultures and traditions. There are so many things to learn from so many cultures and beliefs. So we are going to light one candle every week in the build up to Christmas. Today we made this:
We started with a store bought (cringe) straw wreath to which we used hot glue to adhere four long red ribbons through the centre of the wreath.

I bought four small wood candle holders from the craft store which we painted green and glued to the wreath as well.
I lined up all the ribbons, tied a knot and hung it up! Simple! We are going to do some candle dipping this coming week to make some candles for the wreath (although traditionally three are purple and one is pink).

I love how it turned out! It looks so earthy to me....and Scandinavian.

While Liv and I worked on our masterpiece, Briar played in the bin of birdseed. So fun! An hours worth in fact!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

i love green kitties

His sister's lovely kitty artwork took awhile to wash off but made for a lot of giggles. She even managed to draw a purple collar on his neck and little black nails on each finger and toe!
*Please excuse the all white kitty's fur decorating Briar's blue shirt!*

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

eight months

Today is a 'doozy'. Jeff died on a Tuesday and on the 25th. I am trying to not keep track....but it sneaks up on me. And here I am. Remembering it all again.

Monday, November 24, 2008

insert foot in

Since Jeff died (god, I use those three words a lot) I have had a many moments that have just left me with a 'Huh? How can someone ask/do/say/act that way?' I have empathy and understanding for the people who do this most of the time since I myself have had to insert my foot in my mouth often over my life. BUT there are times that I just feel the need to shake my head and wonder at the motivation behind some incidents.
While searching for a Fuckles-proof kennel at one of the pet stores in town, an attendant came to give me a hand. I explained that the dog is having some issues with seperation anxiety since the recent death of my husband followed closely by the death of my other dog. She kindly gave me a hug (although I seem to now be immune to the tears that used to accompany any sentence that involved Jeff and is just my life and I am used to saying it unfortunately.) She helped me pick out a fully metal kennel and we continued to talk about things that could help Freak-les feel more comforted in my absence.
I was explaining to her that this destructive behaviour has baffled me. That he has been a pretty good dog up until the death of Jeff and Eli. That he was annoying but sweet and great with kids (as I gestured to Liv and Briar as they looked in the window of the grooming salon with Robo's help).
Seemingly out of the blue, she says to me, "Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?" To which I agree with trepidation thinking that she'll ask me the standard, "How did he die?" or maybe "Do you want me to tell you that you have a bean stuck in your front teeth?" But no, she says, "Is this someone new in your life?" ......My brain goes "Huh?" I say, "Who? What?....Him?! Dear lord, NO. He's uncle to the kids and has always been around." I laugh uncomfortably and wonder at the impetus behind this question. I am torn between laughing hysterically at the idea or feeling indignant. I am guessing she sensed my shock and spewed out some ridiculous explanation involving the dog feeling threatened by another person in the house. Bloody hell.
It seems to me that some people have preconceived notions of what a widow looks like. What her actions should be. That my life is their business. Maybe these people would lack the tact and sensitivity to know what is appropriate conversation in any situation and maybe I am feeling overly sensitive and presumptive but, dude, he could have been my brother or my boss. And even if he had been someone 'new in my life' it wouldn't have been any of her business....although I opened the door when I agreed to answer the personal question....I still find it funny....
A more funny incident happened when I went to the drugstore to fill Freckles prescription for antidepressants. While handing me the medication, the pharmacist laughingly explained to me that I shouldn't leave the medication where the dog can get it in case he's having suicidal thoughts. That it may leave him with a dry mouth or constipation. I asked the pharmacist if he often filled prescriptions for canines. He said that while they often did, he had never seen one for antidepressants for a dog. Laughing, he asked me what I did to the dog to make him so upset. I looked at him and said, "Well, first my husband died. Then my other dog died." I think I could have just left it with 'my husband died'. He looked at me with a completely straight stare and I could almost see him replay our conversation with horror. No smile. No hint of his previously expressed sense of humour. "Oh", he says, "You can pay at the front counter." I felt badly for his discomfort but wondered at the society we live in where it is 'wrong' to laugh when faced with hard times. That stoic faces and hushed speech are used when talking about those we have so loved and are now gone from us.
Both of these incidents have reminded me of people's prejudices and judgments regarding others. We all do this. Since Jeff's death, I have learned that these preconceived opinions hurt more than I knew before. But I also am realizing that Ellen Degeneres is so wise when she says, "Other people's opinions are none of my business." I am trying to live my life in a way that helps my kids get through these hard times, puts a smile on all of our faces and protects our future and not worry what anyone else believes is 'right'. I am learning to trust that I know what is 'right' for us. And this may not be right for anyone else.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fuckles strikes again

Okay, this time the victim wasn't of the soft, feathered sort. The bloody dog has turned his attention DE-construction. He's become a one dog wreaking ball. An incomplete list of his targets is:
  • light switch at Marnie's (completely pulling it off of the wall bearing the wires).
  • two door knobs (they still work but are dented and pocked).
  • trim around the front door.
  • drywall beside the front door.
  • backyard gate (bent, chainlink removed, hole dug underneath)
  • most surprising of all, one extra-large Varikennel. (He completely annihilated it in two hours and managed to escape free to reak havoc upon various household fixtures).

He is now on medication for anxiety (aka seperation anxiety) and has a new metal kennel. I have started filling his Kong (a type of dog toy) with peanut butter to attempt to keep him busy while we're out. I am attempting to minimize the cues that we are leaving.

It's is just odd. He has never been my favourite (only because he is not Eli and is very exuberant with his affection) but he has always been sweet to the kids, undestructive, and clean. After Jeff died, he started killing (although we only got chickens after Jeff was gone so this one isn't completely fair). After Eli died, he was fine for a month....and now this. He's lost it. I am angry.....but I feel a small amount of empathy for his acting out. If ingesting drywall would make me feel better, I would do it too.

can't beat ' for 'em

Liv doesn't want to leave the house as of late. If we do manage to go out, she insists on wearing her homemade nightie....Then she wants tries to wear the soiled nightgown to bed. Around and around it goes. I am tired of arguing. I am sick of trying to convince her that getting dressed is a fabulous idea. I am fed up....So, I've decided to do it her way. She LOVES the flannel nightie that I made for her as a Christmas gift last year. I pulled out the pattern and started sewing. In two days, I made her three dresses from the modified nightie pattern and one other flannel nightgown. She is so very pleased. In a moment of mommy genius, I even had her choose the fabric so I would KNOW that she liked it. She is completely enamoured with 'Little House on the Prairie' books and chose some calico-type flowery prints for two of the dresses.
I am so pleased with how they've turned out. In fact, Liv is so tickled because everyone seems to notice her new attire and compliment her on them....even her buddy, Kale.
When Liv's little friend/pretend sister, Jaiden, came for a sleepover, I was instructed that I must make Jaiden her own nightie as well. Off to the fabric store we went again for the six year old selection of the best, cutest, coziest, purplest fabric yet. Success and another pleased little customer!
I'm actually really enjoying mixing the fabric and changing up the patterns and creating again...I fell comfort in my mind and my soul when I'm sewing. I am accomplishing something and pleasing my little one all at the same time.

Monday, November 17, 2008

not the same...but trying

Jeff loved to build wooden toys for Liv. He built her a wooden doll pram. He had put so much thought into how to put it together and how to provide some traction for the wooden wheels (he used rubber boot bands from his fish boots). He built a wooden toy kitchen complete with an oven rack made of wood dowling.
They made a bird feeder together the week before he died. He always signed his work, "Love Daddy". He loved to putter in the garage with some project especially when he could see the joy it brought.
Last Christmas, Briar was a bit too young for a daddy wooden gift so I had made a few little wooden animals for him. Jeff had decided that this coming Christmas he'd build a wooden barn for the animals to live in.
Unfortunately, almost all the legs broke off the little herd I had created. Then Jeff died. Briar didn't get a wooden creation made by his daddy.

Liv cherishes the toys he made for her. Even the piece of bark into which he carved her name while sitting on the beach is coveted. I so wish that Briar had something to hold onto. Something that his father had made with his huge, rough and capable hands simply to see a happy little face light up with wonder and excitement.

I thought of trying to build one myself....but, dude, the legs fell off my animals and I am afraid I'd wreck this project that has now become so important to me. For Briar to have something that his daddy wanted him to have.

I decided to try to find one on Etsy. After searching for a surprisingly sort time, I found one. It's perfect. It is beautiful. It is built by another daddy. I unwrapped it from the box when it arrived on my doorstep smiling while bittersweet tears rolled down my face. In someway, I feel like it's okay. Jeff didn't build it. But someone else who loves his children did. I am hoping that some of that fatherly love went into building the barn. For me and for little Briar, it was so important.

I know that giving some of the things that Jeff had hoped for his children are beyond my control now. Some of these things, I need to let go. I will need to relinquish this feeling that I can make 'it' better. But for now, I am pleased that I may be able, at least, to try to give second best. Because it is the best I can do.
And in the meantime, this little barn, with so much meaning, will be so loved and be a reminder that a daddy loved his little boy oh-so-much.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

my love with his little ones

This seems like yesterday. To think that 1 year, nine months and twenty six days later he would be gone is completely surreal. I miss him so ferociously. I sometimes don't know how I have made it this far from that day.

t.v. dissent and rebellion

Do you remember before you had children and you'd see a television portrayal of a woman giving birth? You'd wonder how accurate it was...but it was probably all you had to go on. Not many people witness true and actual birth experiences before they have the pleasure themselves. After you gave birth yourslef, you realized how skewed the media's illustration of labour is.
Since losing Jeff, I find the same phenomenon occurring within various productions regarding widowhood. 'P.S. I Love You' and 'Grey's Anatomy' annoy the fuck out of me now. I mean, really?
I am a cynical, crabby widow bitch. Pshaw.

Friday, November 14, 2008

not much left to say

As you've noticed, I haven't been writing with much 'substance' lately. I am at a loss for what to say. I wonder if I've said it all before. I hardly remember at times if I've felt these things before. What I feel is unknown even to me. Things here are changing and evolving but staying remarkably the same. Life is moving forward. Things are needing attending to. Other people are forgetting. This movement takes me farther away from the moment that Jeff died. Those few minutes are never far from my thoughts, but they are no longer the first thing I think of in every situation. I don't 'see' Jeff's face in my hands and 'hear' myself screaming as I have a totally unrelated conversation with someone. The voice has stopped telling me, "Jeff's dead". The terror and trauma are there, but to a lesser degree.
I am finding that as I emerge from whatever you would call that place...shock? hell?....I forget that Jeff is gone more often. I don't think 'forget' is actually the correct word. The fear of the moment is not as sharp and it is easy to remember and to sink into my now pseudo life as it was/would have been. I think this may be denial. I try to avoid his photos. They just make me remember the feel of the curls at the back of his neck. The smell on his clothes. The shape of his feet. It hurts too much and makes me long for him so intensely it physically hurts. I steer my mind away from the pain. I try to tell myself that it is okay. That I am strong and I am surviving.
But I have more of those moments where I think, "I can't wait to tell Jeff!" "When Jeff gets home..." I can't totally understand why these thoughts are actually increasing, other than that somehow, the last moments I had with him cease to be the last moments I remember of him. In someways, it feels as if March 25th, 2008 happened years ago and that he has been with me since. Maybe, I'm just going insane. Maybe my brain is coping by sending me on a mental trip....but this is so NOT a holiday.
Last week, I got 'Jeff mail'. It was from the sheriff's office. I worried that I had forgotten to pay his speeding ticket and now they were going to take him/me to court. I tore the envelope open to find a jury summons. A jury summons. Those of you who knew Jeff well will know why I then burst into laughter. Jeff on a jury! Hilarious! I couldn't wait to tell him....Then I sat down and sobbed. I couldn't tell him. I couldn't laugh with him about the absurdity of a jury summons for Jeff. I would never laugh with him.
And now, I just have to keep walking. These kids need to be fed. The house needs to be cleaned. The washer needs repairing. I need to pick up a parcel....I feel like we're....I'm pretending that life goes on. And sometimes, I think I'm doing okay. Like when you learn to ride a bike and you're thinking, "LOOK! I'm doing it! I'm doing it!" And then you fly over your handlebars and get gravel shoved up your nostrils and scraped knees. I'm angry about how this life is.
I don't want to move on. I feel like I'm rebelling. I do things that would have never occurred to me before. I just don't care anymore. I have nothing to lose (except my kids and I would fight to bodily death for them). Everything is...empty and ridiculous. Things I enjoyed in my life 'before' are devoid of meaning. I scoff at the stupidity of society and the motivations behind most actions. It's all vacuous crap....But then, on the other hand, I find myself staring at people and wondering what their story is. How did they get this way? I am falling in love with elderly people who have been through so much. Who have endured wars and lost children and the loves of their lives. Have suffered atrocities and terrors. Still they stand. Some have found meaning. Some have gained the spark back in their eyes. They are my heroes. I want to hear them. I want to ask them how long it was before 'they' returned. I want to know that I am not alone in grief. I want to hear that people have suffered....worse and lived to live again.
My brain and my emotions have left me. They left an empty shell. An automaton. I exist. I don't live. I died as he took his last breath.....But maybe. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe one day, I will live again. I can't see it now. But if I look to people who have endured and survived through horror, I know there may be hope.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

sickness and bombs

This illness is still hanging over me. I'll be going for some tests this morning and hopefully, they will shed some definitive light on what is going on with my body. I am so tired of being sick. It is amazing to me how stress can cause you body to act against you. That worry can cause your body to forget to protect you from sickness in an effort just to keep you upright and standing.

One thing that seems to help my aching body is having a gloriously hot bath. Last week was Tabitha's turn at our weekly homeschool craft day to instruct us on a craft for the kids to make for the Christmas craft fair. We made bath bombs!

This is an extremely easy (but a bit messy - yummy smelling mess, though) craft...even Briar enjoyed it! I thought some of you may enjoy making them as well....
1 part citric acid aka Vitamin C (can be bought in bulk at health food or wine making stores)
2 parts baking soda

*mix together well.

Add 10-12 drops of essential oils.

*Mix well again making sure to break up the small lumps of oils to ensure their even dispersal through the powder.

Using a spray bottle containing witch hazel, mist contents of your bowl small amounts at a time while mixing with your hands. Hold the spray bottle far enough away that it does not make foamy puddles as you spray. As you mix, press the mixture together into balls to test whether it is ready to put in molds. As soon as it holds together loosely, it is ready! Do not add too much liquid!!
Use something to mold the bombs as they are drying or form them into balls with your hands.
We've used ice cube trays, muffin tins, jello molds, etc. Let them dry for 24 hours and pop them out for in the bath. Keep them in a dry place or they won't work when you want to use them. We pry them out of the mold with a butter knife but I have read that if you oil your mold, the bomb will pop out more easily.
We've been thinking of all the various ingredients we could use to colour them, scent them and even embed in them.
P.S. Don't taste test it...Although it won't hurt you, it is pretty sour...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

paranoia will destroy ya

Since Jeff has died, not many things scare me. I figure this is all temporary. Possibly a dream. I still get worked up and stressed but not about the same vacuous ephermeral junk.
The one thing that freaks me out, however, is the fact that if something happens to me, my kids will be orphans. So although I`d worry about illness, etc. before, I am now downright paranoid.
A quick morning scan of my symptoms via the internet has introduced the bloody terror that my body is harbouring Saroidosis, Leptospirosis, Hodgkins disease, Rubella, Kawasaki Disease (although this is a child`s disease), etc. I am perpetually telling my sister to stay off the computer when searching for medical advice. I only meant to see if my symptoms warranted a trip to the doctor...I need to listen to my own advice and STOP LOOKING FOR MEDICAL ADVICE ON THE INTERNET!!!!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

kindness of kiddos

There are days. Days that I could pull my hair out and stomp my feet and wonder who the hell dropped these kids who fight and whine all day off at my house. On these days, nothing gets done. The kids need me and I need time to myself...a cycle that is not mutually beneficial or quiet. Although I know I shouldn't, I take score of how long it took them to start screaming, who made the last mess and how old someone should be when they start to retrieve their own underwear from their drawers. I forget that my housemates are four feet and under and are very immature...and for good reason! I get tired and sullen. They get exhausted and crabby. I feel sorry for myself and my 'lot in life' and have a little pity-party.

Then, the next day comes and mommy is sick with whatever ailment they have been battling. I feel achey and cold. My glands are swollen and I want to be tucked into bed with a hotwater bottle.

Then. Then! My sweet and thoughtful little six year old takes her little brother to the kitchen. I can hear them crashing around and giggling. I lay there anticipating and dreading the mess that I will have to clean up when I emerge from the coccoon of my cozy bed. Suddenly, two bright and sweet little faces bounce into my room with the larger one carrying a tray of food. Mommy's favourite breakfast of yogourt and granola and their standard morning fare of cinnamon toast. We sit in my bed eating with Liv so pleased that she could help and me so pleased with the empathy that she is expressing. And although again, I was anticipating the sugary crumbs I'd have to clean up, I am so thankful that I have these two little people to share my home with.

Later, when I pull out that vaccuum cleaner, an eager two year old tugs the hose from my hand and proclaims, "I do it, Mommy!" I happily relinquish the clean-up to him and relish the fact that I have such sweet, funny and kind little ones in my life. Thank you, you two. Mommy is so lucky to have you....even when you're not making breakfast or vaccuuming. Even when we have a stomping, growling, crabby day, I am so very blessed.

Monday, November 03, 2008

at a complete loss for words

I have had trouble posting for the last few days. I haven't known how to express how I'm feeling. I wish their was some way that my heartfelt gratitude could be transported through the internet or through space or SOMETHING to say 'thank you' to everyone of you who have read, commented, donated, contacted, assisted and cared for our family. The most recent expression of this kindness and generosity has come from my dear friend, Matt, his creeps, readers, and supporters. I hope you know how much you've touched our little family and that this assistance could not be more appreciated at this time. Matt, you are truly a wonder. A kind, generous and amazing person that I am so honoured to be able to call 'friend'. I only hope that there is some way that I can help you in the years to come following our losses.
Please know, all of you, that it will be paid forward...
Thank you. Sincerely. Thank you.