Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tired and Not Loving It

Have you ever had those moments or days where it takes so much energy to do anything?  Where you just don't have it in you to do things that normally fill your day?

I've been having a few of them lately; in fact, every day in the last while!  If you wonder where I've been it's that I'm using all my energy to get through the days and that includes my work.

The kids both completed grade 9 successfully.  It is most likely that son will be spending time with a tutor this summer as his math mark showed how much of a struggle he had.  He does not have much confidence in himself and tends to give up rather quickly rather than spending more time on a math problem.  He also tends to rush through the questions and it is difficult to re-read test questions or homework. 

Daughter finished with excellent marks and will spend her summer doing "Tech" things and spending time with her best friend from Alberta.  Friend from Alberta will be joining us for 3 weeks in late July and we intend to do a little travelling.  Oh yeah - sis in Ottawa....that means we're heading your way for the last week in July - you can be a hard person to get a hold of!  It will be me, daughter and her friend descending upon your home. 

The heat and sun are trying to make a dedicated appearance in our area.  Seems the fog has taken offence to that and in the city, where I work, the fog ebbs and flows daily.  Sometimes the sun peeks out for an hour or so before being obscured once again by the creeping fog.  Some fog is refreshing especially during some of the warmer and muggier days we've seen out here.  Out in the "valley" where I live, we are outside the fog belt (hubby made sure of that) and the weather is usually 5 degrees warmer (Celsius, that is) and muggier.  Son, his cousin and my hubby have actually swum in the lake....proclaiming it to be warm.  Ha!  I'm not buying into that just yet!  I plant myself into a chair beneath the maple tree and carry out lifeguarding duties.

I drove daughter's friend home today and the route took us the OTHER way around our lake.  While driving past the second (and smaller) beaver dam at the far end of the lake I was amazed to see a painted, WOODEN ROOSTER planted on the top of the dam!  I'm going to break out my camera and snap a photo or two because it is a funny sight!  I have no idea how long it has been there or if there is any particular reason why someone stuck it on top of the dam (gee...maybe the beaver borrowed it from someone's back yard??) but it is quite a sight!

Gardens are a-bloom with the early summer flowers and folliage.  We planted most of the annuals and moved around perennials.  Last summer we took out the evergreen bushes in the front gardens and this year the most amazing plants sprung to life!  In the front garden there appear to be an azalea bush, a rose bush, some lilies in addition to the irises; the mum from the pot grew back with a vengeance.  Why would the previous owners want to cover all that up with ugly evergreens?  We put in some black-eyed Susan's and I want to transplant a pink potentilla bush from the backyard to the front garden.  I shall take pictures shortly and post some "before" and "after" pics for you to see.

Son likes to be engaged constantly and does not like being on his own.  Which is the reason why I changed my working hours to part-time evening and weekends.  Only I didn't mean every.freakin'.weekend!  Except that is what is happening.  Work is going very well as a part-time occupation.  A bit of time away from the house and a little money on the side.  For the most part it is the customers who make the job fun for me.  I get to indulge in my "gift of the gab" and the customers respond in kind.  I do get grouchy ones and occasionally it feels like they all stood in line together to be nasty all at once.  The people who become the angriest, actually, are the ones I ask for I.D. because their signatures don't match their credit cards at all.  Not even remotely.  Boy, do some of them get ticked off when I keep the card until other identification is shown.  It appears that my doing this is the uncommon and unheard-of procedure.  The ones who have had their cards stolen previously are thankful that someone is checking.... 

So far I've worked the front cash, in the tool section (tool corral it is called) and outside in the garden centre.  The garden centre is quite nice and you aren't watched as closely out there.  With some store managers you feel like you are back in kindergarden again!  Some of these people need to chill out and relax a little - if we don't have enough staff to efficiently help everyone when it is busy, don't freak out at me!  I'm going to snap right back at you!  There are a few people on the staff that I try to avoid and don't care for at all.  There are a lot of younger people, teens, working there and it is interesting to have them around.  They sure can make you feel your age!!  I had my first "round table" meeting last week.  That's where miscellaneous employees sit with a couple of the managers and go over procedures and bring any problems to light.  I brought forward some of the concerns I've seen on the cash register line and it remains to be seen if anything is resolved.

On top of this I have a small and ongoing medical concern that is starting to affect my life in an increasingly bigger way....*sigh*..... nothing is easy, is it?  This is when I really miss having a family doctor; one who is familiar with my history and situation.  I've been in this province a year now and am already sick to death of the health care system. I've had to make use of the emergency care system and the after-hours clinic and I have grown to hate them so much I'd rather endure any health concern than use those services.  I am tired of being treated in a condescending manner, by abrupt and rude doctors who are overworked and tired.  And who usually don't want to be with me as much as I don't want to be with them.  So it will be interesting to see what happens if this minor health concern doesn't take care of itself.  I'm not about to subject myself to the whim of a so-called professional who believes they know best - and are shocked when I say "no".  The word "no" is very liberating and enjoyable and is partially responsible for why I come across as cranky and eccentric with some.  I love "no".  After years of being the "yes" woman and going along with what anyone and everyone said and wanted, I am LOVING the "no" effect and using it wherever possible.  Perhaps it is a sign of maturity?  (Immaturity some would probably say)  I'd say by my age, 44, I have the knowledge and power to make decisions for myself rather than be swayed or led into one or another.  Oh, the power of "no"!!!!!

Oh, we found out that the new SUV needs a cadillac converter.  The vehicle is still under warranty and will be repaired once the back-ordered item actually shows up out here.  Now really, what were the chances of THAT failing on the first day we took possession of the vehicle?  My faith in mankind - or car salesmen in particular - took another spectacular hit after that!

so that is my ordinary world for now.  Not enough energy to be hip-hip-hooray but still enough to enjoy the early summer and blooming flowers.  I do hope to drop in often and to take some colourful pictures to upload.

Oh yeah, and Nana and Poppa return home tomorrow!  Yeahhhh!  We all sure missed them.  And no, I didn't "shop" for flowers in Nana's garden while she was away....she knows where to find me folks; and I'd be the first stop on her way to get the plants back!  Ha ha ha, the Lupine flowers are looking mighty fine right now though....

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Oh Crap - School's OUT!

I'm crying but it's not tears of joy!  Thus begins 2 months of, "I'm bored; what are we doing today?".  Structure is important to kids with Asperger's Syndrome and the longer I am subjected to it the less appealing it becomes.  I have one child who is easy to entertain and doesn't need a lot of stimulation or support to fill her days.  She has quiet hobbies, as well as the drive and interest to keep busy most of the time.  The other one however, wants - demands actually - to have "fun" constantly.  It's now a word I'd ban from our vocabulary if the chance ever comes up.  It means I will fill our days doing as many things as possible to entertain his days and keep him somewhat happy.  There are so many things I'd rather be doing that shall be set aside in favour of helping him cope.  I love to read or garden.  As they aren't on his list of favourite activities..... guess what?  On the other hand we do see more and keep busier because I try to plan excursions to see new places and do new things.  It was easier in Alberta however as we lived in a very large city that had more available activities than where we are currently located.  Mind you, should the summer get hot and muggy we are located on a lake and swimming is an activity we both enjoy so although I'm not a fan of really hot and sticky days let's hear it for swimming and the lake!

I'm sick still and so is hubby.  Dang those summer colds ~ you think you've made it past cold season then *wham* some random little bug knocks you off your feet.  Something nasty is going around my workplace but due to understaffing, clerks and cashiers are reporting to work sicker than dogs and puking.  It is a sad state of affairs when hard-working folks such as these are taken advantage of to the point they feel they MUST work to help out.  I have some scathing remarks on that subject that are best left never know who is reading a blog these days.

This is the first week of part-time work and it is working out much better than the last 3 weeks.  Son is happier with me here throughout the day and I've been able to provide dinner before I head off to work.  The four hour shift goes by much better for me and I'm not worried about those dreaded calls from home (cripes....there goes "Mom of the year award" AND "employee of the month"!!).  It is fortunate I have today and tomorrow off so I can simper and whine and try to get over this darned bug that is making me miserable.

I have had some time to do a bit of gardening.  It is good for my soul to putter and dig.  The flowers seem so vibrant after the long, white winter and the explosion of green vegetation and the rainbow of flowers is a happy sight for all of our tired eyes!  I'd like a word with whatever force of nature invented "humidity" however....that great energy-sapper that it is.  I grew accustomed to the low humidity levels during the 10 years in Alberta and the pampered princess is having trouble adjusting to sweating, er perspiring??, when moving about on hot days.

Before closing and heading back to bed, I'm sending  a "shout-out" to my in-laws who are presently in Northern Ireland.  They have not been back since landing in Canada 33 years ago however the illness of a family member back there inspired the quickly-arranged trip.  We hope that health matters improve for those concerned and this walk down memory lane provides happy memories to recount when you come back.  We miss Nana and Poppa already and I know their children can't wait to hear stories about their childhood haunts and homes upon their parents' return.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Whooaaa ~ What a week!

You know how some people are born with that proverbial silver spoon in their mouths? Everything they touch turns to gold? The ones who make a billion dollars from 2 nickels they rubbed together as kids?

Well...that's NOT us. We are somehow related to "Murphy" and his stupid laws. I'm not sure where in the family tree there is a connection but it's there. If unlucky had a name it would be us. We just brought home our new "used" vehicle yesterday. A 1995 Hyundai Santa Fe. While taking it for a spin today what do you know; the ENGINE light came on ~ as in, "check your engine"! The SAME FREAKING thing happened when we bought our van some years back; it cost $500 plus dollars to fix brand new "used" vehicle before its engine purred. That was the same van that started itself during the cold winter; freaking us out at 1 in the morning when it started itself while we were sleeping in the house! (The garage abutted the master bedroom).

When we bought the Toyota Matrix we'd been assured everything was hunkey-dory with it. Then we found out it had been in an accident. When we bought the SAAB years ago, we found out IT had not only been in an accident but the seat warmer had caught fire with the previous owner!

I am officially working part-time hours at the store. The full-time gig didn't work out; son just couldn't deal with the time home, alone. I got more than one frantic call from him at work. Which meant that he called the switchboard, who then passed the call to my supervisor. Who then tracked me down to give me her phone or to send me to a phone to call him back. So everyone could hear our conversations. Yeah that was fun, all right. To make matters "Murphy-lawish" of COURSE dear son had to take quite ill just a day before my full time hours ended. Which was the same day hubby had to drive an hour north to purchase our lovely black SUV that has the "check engine light" on. Today hubby and I are sick. Thanks, kid. I hope we don't get the sinus infection you have because those yellow horse pills you are taking are gross and I just know I'd puke them back up!

The kids are done classes, if you can believe that. Whatever happened to a full semester of school? June 6th the end of classes? What the ~ ?!! Exams run this week and then the little darlings are all mine for the summer. Yahoo. I'm relieved I switched my hours to nights and weekends only; that way I can spend time with them and make sure they don't kill each other.

As I write this there is a nasty little thunderstorm coming. Could this be mother nature adding to our misadventures? Like, building a new bathroom to replace the leaky one from the winter's storms isn't enough? Next we're gonna get zapped by lightening or something! Oh wait...that already happened, what am I saying? Been there, done that, don't want to experience that again! Oh I know what this little weather system is all about....I FINALLY got my flower pots planted! It's going to absolutely HAIL and kill every little flower I lovingly planted this afternoon. Just you wait! It's been THAT KIND OF WEEK around here.

I best go batten down the hatches and close the garage doors. Of course the lawn tractor is in the garage so we can't park the vehicles in there. Hubby's motorbike is in the other "bay", apart, because the last time he drove it the engine shrieked at him. So I had to rescue him one chilly morning last week. It's getting quite black out. Maybe I will crack open the garage door and actually pull my flowers inside. I know for sure something has it in for us if anything kills my flowers in there tonight! (uh...except for the one my mother-in-law gave me. I think it died. I forgot it was real and er...didn't water it. In the hopes of a near-death experience I've planted it in one of the front planters. This, after I killed the flowered plant hubby gave me a month or two ago. People you need to know that I've moved on to plastic plants for a good reason!)

So long from the front line......!!

Monday, June 2, 2008

One Year and Counting....

The first anniversary of our arrival in New Brunswick happened a couple of days ago.  One year since we left Alberta.  How did one year  go by so fast?

Hubby asked me yesterday, if I missed Alberta or if I wished I was still there.  I replied that I do not think about moves and changes in those terms.  If you spend much time dwelling on past things you might start regretting things.  I try to stay focussed on where I am and what is going on NOW.  My here and now is New Brunswick, for better or worse....richer or poorer...heh heh heh!!  There are things I miss and always will, about Alberta.  What I miss most are my friends.  My cherished buddies with whom I could visit and discuss life and events, perhaps catch a movie or do some eating or shopping.

Life slowed down once we moved here and perhaps the hardest thing for me was the lack of friends.  My kids are older and one, at least, has established her own life now and is busy with it.  When they were younger it was us parents who arranged playdates and activities and so met others by these social outings.  Working also created other friendships.  As I have neither here, it was the loneliness that I didn't like.

So I recently took a job at a "home improvement store" much like Revy's or Home Depot out west.  I'm a cashier, out there on the front lines....talkin' my heart out to customers.  It was also a trial for son as the hours required him to be home alone for periods of time.  Two weeks into the experiment and it is evident of FAILURE.  For someone who NEVER used to use a telephone, he figured out how to call the store and get connected to my pretty quick.  The call is received by the switchboard then transferred to my supervisor who then notifies me of the call.  She then either transfers it to the phone at my cash or I have to close it temporarily and walk to the customer service desk and answer it there.  Either way it is a very public place I receive a private call from a distraught and panicky child.  Out of desperation I then call on my hubby's family to help and am eternally grateful they have been able to thus far. 

Then it suddenly HIT ME last classes finish this coming week!  A couple of exams the following week and then school is OVER for this academic year!  Holy cow, when did that happen?  For someone who can barely handle one afternoon alone ~ to be suddenly faced with well, I don't even want to pretend to go there.

I sent an email to my employer this evening requesting a reduction in hours to only evenings and weekends.  This was identified as a possibility in the first few days I worked, after I received a frantic phone call from home during training.  I do enjoy meeting the public and seeing a few people I recognize here and there. 

It seems strange that, after a year of living here, I can still go days without seeing any familiar faces.  It still feels foreign in that respect and like it will never change.  I'm not sure how many of you out there truly understand what that is like, to not see anyone familiar day after day, week after week.  After 10 years living in Alberta, I truly enjoyed stopping to chat with people I knew in the grocery store, or while shopping at Walmart.  I still feel like a stranger here and not embedded in the community at all.

So join something, someone suggests.  This brings me back to our situation.  Nothing is easy or normal when there is a disabled person in the home; a child in particular.  Everything we do is scheduled around him and his needs still.  After 15 years of it with still no end in sight.  It didn't get better; it just changed.  It is one of the hardest parts of raising a child who struggles with developmental issues.  The nature of Asperger's Syndrome, for instance, makes it difficult if not impossible, to make or keep friends.  Even though they often crave companionship.  This means Mom and Dad become that companion by proxy.  These kids crave structure and activities to keep busy.  Well hubby's job is  unpredictable and so are my hours.  We now live in a small community and it does not offer any of the specialized activities that were available in Edmonton.  That has been rough on him.  Guess who provides the activities and entertainment now?  Yup, us, his parents.  Son always wants to know what he is doing at least a day in advance and look out if nothing "fun" is planned.  He loses his cool and his temper.  Basically that happens at least once a day.  He isn't good at knowing what this "fun" is and it does usually entail spending money.  Every family knows the need to budget by reducing outings and money-costing activities. 

Are you getting a picture of what happens every day now?  I usually try to plan some errands and drop-ins to places son likes to see or visit, in order to get him out of the house on a daily basis.  It is very tiring and some days I do deeply resent it.  A day of relaxation?  Doesn't happen often.  Today for instance, was my "day off".  Well, hubby has been entertaining son while I'm working so I wanted to give him a break.  I was exhausted from work but rest was out of the question.  Son demanded my time and that meant keeping busy.  So I didn't get necessary chores done, am still exhausted and sore, and spend a great deal of the day with son.  Entertaining him.  Please don't tell me he'll be grown up soon and I'll miss these days....

He IS grown up.  He's 15-1/2!  This is the age where teens start demanding that independence and alone time.  Where they hang out with their friends, their books, their room; whatever.  I'm saying that isn't happening here and is unlikely to soon.  Again I've had to adjust my life, my work around him.  It's hard.  It is a whole lot harder than you can even imagine.  It is hard not to resent the fact that I still have to worry about him and be his company for so much.  That what I do and how I live my life is connected in such detail, every day, to his needs and happiness.  You cannot imagine what effect this has on you, year after year.  I've had so many calls from him over the years.  Had to leave work so many times.  Had to adjust my work, the hours....everything.  A year ago I had a break-down from the unrelenting stress of this kind of life.  It had led to severe problems with my employer and work environment and after 9 years of it, I was frazzled and basically snapped.

I had a year off work and can feel that I've recovered somewhat.  I am not the person I was though and will never be again.  Something broke during those last couple of years from the extreme stress; although my health has recovered somewhat who knows the permanent damage from those kinds of emotions day in and day out?  I took a small step back out into the workforce 2 weeks ago and got another heavy  and immediate dose of reality about our life again.  I should say his life and mine.  Although my hubby endures the fallout of this, his work life has never been affected like mine.  I suspect that for families with disabled children, it is the mother whose life suffers the most.  It's not about a contest to see who is the winner; I'm talking about the direct impact on your life directly.  It was MY worklife that was affected; I'm the one who had to arrange and re-arrange my work around my son.  When my employer and I were kind of forced into a mutually acceptable working arrangement, I had to listen to the words and barely concealed anger of coworkers who thought I had received special treatment and an easier life.  They imagined, when I was teleworking, that I'd mosey on down to my office in my pajamas whenever I got around to waking up, coffee in hand....and plunk down to an hour or two of work a day.  The reality was starkly different but they didn't care to see or hear that though.  If someone's spouse had cancer or was seriously ill, coworkers were sympathetic and the employee had plenty of time off to tend to the needs of their spouse, child, etc.  It is the nature of life.  It always seemed like I had asked for a disabled child and that I enjoyed the challenges and struggles that it brought on.

I can guarantee you that isn't the case.  I worry endlessly about how he will survive when his father and I are gone.  In particular when something happens to me.  He is obsessively attached to me; don't ask me why.  I don't have any answers and he certainly didn't come with any guidelines!

Anyway it is very late and I have to work again tomorrow morning.  I still have to get the dogs out for their last bathroom excursion before hitting the sack.  I hope that life balances out more after this coming week; when either my hours are cut in half....or I quit.  One way or another, school is out soon and for this summer at least, the kids still need me at home....

I may not post much for a week or so; so much adjusting to do right now and so little time for it all to happen!