Friday, June 30, 2006


"Pssst!! You awake?? I can't sleep!"

It's almost 5am and I'm awake again, reading blogs and finally attempting some of my own writing. I've been awake since 2:30am. Last night (or was it yesterday morning?) it was from about 3:30am until sometime after 5:30. The night before that, it was about the same. Noticing a pattern? It's been like this for about two weeks now. One morning I was frosting Brownies at 3am. This morning, after tidying up the bathroom at 4am, I'm here on the computer...

What is Up with that? Connor is sleeping all night, the other two kids sleep like logs, and Levi hasn't even been snoring lately, even though he's been putting in some long exhausting 14 hour days. I don't drink coffee or anything with caffeine, I don't eat a lot of sugary stuff before bed (or in general for that matter), and things are going pretty good on the homefront. My laundry has been caught up every day for a week and the house is actually staying pretty clean. I'm not sleeping my afternoons away, though by mid-afternoon I'm totally wiped from going on only a couple hours sleep. It's not too hot for sleeping, my bed is as cozy as ever, so I'm at a loss for an explanation.

I've tried herbal tea. I've tried visual relaxation. I've tried going to bed early. I've tried going to bed late. I get lots of fresh air and sunshine during the day. I'm active. I haven't watched TV before bed. I've tried writing down a list of things that might be bothering me. (I could only come up with three things, and they are all minor, this insomnia being one of them.) I can fall asleep, I just can't seem to stay asleep. Please help, dear readers! I need some suggestions!! I really don't want to resort to sleeping pills! What works for you when you can't sleep?

So since I can't sleep, I'll spill to you about what has been going on lately.

*We had our Field Trip to Orwell Corner last Friday. It was such a great time! I wrote about it and Blogger ate most of it when I tried to save it, so I have to try and re-write what was lost. I hope to have it posted some time this weekend.

*The kids have officially finished school. Tuesday was their last day, and they both passed. Madeline, who has been doing well all year, is now promoted to Grade 4. Terran, who's marks were um... shall we just say not great last term? He really made a tremendous effort and pulled his marks way up. I'm so proud of him, he worked hard last term and is now promoted to Grade 8.

*Connor is Officially Potty Trained!! He's been wearing "Big Kid Underwear" (Gerber cotton training pants, no plastic thankyouverymuch!) and hasn't needed a diaper at all! I still put one on him at Nap and Bedtime, but he always wakes up dry. He is very good at telling me when he needs to use the bathroom and even on our Field Trip (with all the excitement) he let me know and we would go to the bathroom, no accidents. Whoo Hoo!!

*Madeline left Wednesday to visit with her Grandparents and Auntie, who live about an hour and a half from here. She loves visiting them. I was talking with her last night before she went to bed, and she was just getting home from Bingo. She won $25.00! (I know, it's funny as hell!) She's also been to the beach. She informs me that she wants to stay for two weeks. Her vacation is off to a great start!

*Terran is sleeping out in the tent with two of his buddies. He's having his Annual Summer Vacation Kick-Off Party. (Two of the other boys couldn't make it.) They took his TV, DVD player and XBox or whatever it is out there along with a bunch of candy. They were playing Flashlight Tag around 11:30 or so, so I guess it still counts as camping out. It's 5:25 am now, so it's safe to assume that they fell asleep out there. Last year they were all back in the house by 2 am. He's going to be leaving me for a couple of days as well, he was invited to spend a few days with his friend at Brackley Beach.

*Levi's sister and her husband are coming home from New Brunswick tonight. Connor is pretty excited about it, and we haven't seen them since April. We're not sure what our plans are for Canada Day yet, but I'm sure we'll do something fun. Usually we go to Rustico on our friend's boat, spend the day there enjoying the festivities, and watch the fireworks. I'm not sure if we'll do that this year or not, we have a few other invites too. I'll leave you with one of my favorite images from two years ago as we sailed to Rustico on Canada Day. Looking at this makes me feel peaceful...

The sun is up over the horizon now and the birds have been serenading me for an hour, so I'm going to try and catch a few winks before my kitchen is filled with hungry boys once again. 'Night!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Sometimes all it takes is a phone call to get the ball in motion. Like today, for instance. First though, a little history.

Anyone who knows me well knows that for the last two years I have been seriously considering the idea of Homeschooling my kids. For many different reasons. I'm pretty sure Ex will have quite a lot of negative stuff to say about Madeline being homeschooled, and I'm pretty sure he's going to try and fight me all the way on it. But with Terran and Connor, I think it'll be OK. Connor especially. Since he's only three, we can start homeschooling him without having to go through all the red tape of writing intentions to the Dept. Of Education, etc. For now. And it helps that Levi supports this decision also. So I've been talking to other homeschooling mothers, gathering information, reading, researching, and am a member on PEI I've been fairly quiet on the message boards, just "listening" and getting a feel for the homeschooling community. One of the perks of being a member of this website is that I also get E-mails of any events going on in the homeschooling community. SO... when I got one regarding a field trip to a historic village in Orwell Corner, I HAD to call and book us in.

This place is amazing. We've been there before when Levi and his family had a horse show. It has an old one room school house complete with slates and a pot bellied stove, an Old General Store, and other quaint buildings, lots of animals and beautiful gardens.
This one was taken a couple of years ago. The Old General Store is in the background. Pretty spot, isn't it?

Anyways, Friday is a "Hands On" day for homeschoolers, and "we" get a reduced group rate of $4 a person. (Normally $20. individually) The day starts with a tour of the buildings and artifacts, and then a picnic lunch. Then there's hands on activities, like Candle Making, Wool Spinning, Ice Cream making, and some stuff going on at the Blacksmith's too. It's a great history lesson, my kids get to meet some homeschooled kids, and I get to chat with some other moms. The best part is that the contact person for this outing lives not far from my house.

All this is just to say I'm excited, not just for Friday, but for this new direction our life is taking. It's like that first exhilarating dash into the ocean, the cold of the water takes you by surprise for a second, but once you're in the water is great. Refreshing even. I took the first step today by actually getting involved. I mean, this means that I'm really going ahead with my decision to homeschool my kids. Once the kids realize how much fun learning can actually be, it'll be a refreshing change for us all.

Ugly Side of Divorce

Yesterday I received a letter in the mail. It was a form that I had requested from my ex-husband about three months ago. This form was necessary in order to revise the amount of child support that one must pay, since the guidelines and amounts have changed as of May 1, 2006. (They've actually gone down.) Since I have not requested any changes to the Child Support Order or Parental Agreement since they were originally drafted in 2001, it was high time to revise.

One section of the agreement states that Ex must provide me with his tax forms by May 1st of each year, and I am to do the same if he requests. (Since I am a stay-at-home mom, he knows that I don't really have an income, doesn't he? Does he really think that I make more than he, an Engineer, does?) This has been done once in 2003. Like the doormat that I am, I let it slide. No review, no adjustments. Levi thinks that I am waaayy too nice to him, considering all that he has put me through after we had separated.

Like how he didn't pay child support or paid $100 a month until the court ordered an actual amount.

Like all the times that he never picked up the kids when they were waiting for him.

Like the time he went down south with his snotty girlfriend and OOPS! Got married to her and neglected to tell the kids. (His explanation was that I was pregnant. Huh?!? WTF?? Okay, so babies sometimes just happen. But marriages in another country? Not so much.)

Or the time that he refused to pay his share of daycare expenses and I had to find alternate childcare because of "nonpayment." I was *ahem* "not really working" I was "volunteering". (This was right after 9/11 and I was working at the Red Cross. We had sent some people to New York and I was helping out in the office beyond my normal paid hours.) True, that part was unpaid, but it did result in me being offered a permanent office position. Our agreement states that he must pay a certain percentage of daycare expenses as a result of any employment, education, illness, disability, training for employment,etc.

Or the time that he called me while I was on a course in Toronto, claiming that he was going to remove Madeline from school four days from the end of the year and have her stay with his parents, because he wasn't happy with the care that she was receiving for the hour and a half after school until Levi got home. (She was being looked after by Levi's mother, but apparently he didn't believe that.) He even phoned the school...
Upon my return home a week later, he had a Social Worker show up at my door because he seriously thought that I was leaving Madeline unattended after school. The Social Worker was very satisfied that she was well cared for and left shaking his head at the lengths that Some People would go to just to cause trouble for another person.

OR the time that he wrote a letter to MY lawyer, stating that I tried to screw him out of money by telling him that he could claim our daughter (after my refusal to sign a letter saying that she lived with him 50% of the time, which she absolutely never has) and then went ahead and claimed her myself. In the same letter he cited that my "personal opinions regarding my wife and myself..." are of concern to him and he is worried about the affect that this is having on his daughter. Yeah, whatever. This one was because I had asked for his tax returns for years 2001-2003.

I could go on and on, but it won't get me any closer to my point. Ah yes, the most recent letter. He seems to (or rather The Wife seems to) get quite defensive and UGG - LEE when a request goes out for his tax information. After being promised the information on numerous occasions, I finally had it in my hands. Opening up the envelope, I noticed that a letter had been attached to the tax form.

Once again typed up by The Wife, he demands "a copy of Madeline's report card mailed to (him)... as well as a copy of the school calendar so I am aware of the dates when she is not attending classes. Also, ... I want to receive notifications from Maddie's health care professionals, ie, family physician, pediatrician, dentist, regarding any issues that they feel I should be informed of... Give these instructions in writing to the school and health care professionals... give them my work number, cellular number as well as my mailing address. If I am unavailable, please instruct them to speak with my wife..."

Ummm, what the hell is this? Let's break this down, shall we?

* Report card - When she gets it, she takes it to show him, her grandparents,and anyone else who will look at it. And forget parent teacher interviews. Hasn't been to one of these either, even with a week's notice.

*School calendar - Like he's going to take a day off and see her? He never has before. And on days when she has had a long weekend, he has known about it and she has even spent a few of these days at his house, only to be looked after by The Wife's Parents while he worked. And what about March Break? Why does he always take the two weeks before March break to go South with The Wife, but never takes one of those weeks to spend with Maddie during her break?

* Notifications from healthcare professionals - OK, these cost money. Is he gonna pay for it? I have always phoned him (his machine) when she needed to see a doctor. "Hey, it's me, I had Maddie to the Dr. today, he said she has a sinus infection. She's on antibiotics and has to go back in 10 days for a re-check." Or " She had her dental check-up today. She has a cavity. He also suggested a device for her mouth... He wants you to stop in and see him." Keep in mind that the dentist is also his dentist AND a friend from school. And the clinic is in the same mall where Ex goes to the gym. Almost daily. He hasn't been in yet.

* Instruct them to speak with my wife - Ummm... NO. FRIGGIN. WAY. Last time I checked, she wasn't Madeline's mommy. I am. And last time I checked, Ex was her other parent, not The Wife. I didn't see anything in the court order giving her decision making priveledges concerning my daughter. Levi doesn't even do that, and he lives with us. And if Ex is too busy to be a parent and can't handle a phone call regarding his daughter, then maybe he should just let me handle things. Oh! Wait! I already am!

So, yeah. There it is. Another Happy Letter from The Happy Couple because I had the nerve to ask for something I am legally entitled to. Oh! And when I finally did get to speak to him about it, when he called the day after Father's Day because I left him a message on Father's Day telling him that Maddie was upset that she tried calling several times to wish him a happy Father's Day and he wasn't answering? He said it was "nothing personal." Just something he and his lawyer "talked about one night out at the bar." Right.

It happens every time. Makes me wonder though, if I will have to put up with his bullshit every year, or every time some change needs to be made. For as long as I have my daughter living with me, I really believe that Ex is still out to make sure that I don't have anything more than what he thinks I deserve, and will constantly try to find ways to create stress in my life and try to control my happiness. This, my friends, is one of the Ugly Sides of Divorce. I think it's time for Some People to move on with their life, don't you? Almost six years later,and it's Still. Friggin'. Ugly.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Lost and Found

One snuggly little boy, blonde with blue eyes, who likes to give his mama big smooches and hugs. Could normally be found making towers out of lego, pushing little dinky cars around on the floor and clinging to his mama's leg if she tried to walk out the door.

One pre-teenage boy, blonde with blue eyes, who is leaving his mama soon to hang out with his Army Cadet buddies in Northern New Brunswick. He will be going to CFB Gagetown for two weeks this July for training camp. This handsome young man was discovered at a recent graduation in which he was promoted in rank from Cadet to Trooper. He closely resembles the child in above picture, but could not be the same person as this young man is clearly on his way to becoming an adult, and the last time his mother looked, he was still a baby...

How does this happen? I mean, aren't they supposed to stay little for a while so we can enjoy them? I have been sobbing my eyes out for the last couple of days trying to figure out what has happened to my small babies. They are replaced by equally pleasant, enjoyable (by times) good citizens who closely resemble the babies they once were, but still... Is it selfish of me to want my babies back, even for a little while longer? I wish I could keep them like this...

During a very moving speech from the Captain to his Corp, I found myself misting up yet again. His words still echo in my mind; "Look deep within yourselves and give it all you've got... Always remember that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. I believe in you.... You have all made me very proud this past year." I looked over at Terran again, standing so proud in his uniform, and was startled to realize that one day soon, he will be an adult. Already he is becoming responsible, independent, and making plans for himself that have absolutely nothing to do with me. He still asks me about my opinion, but he is his own person now.
His Cadet Captain told me later that I have "a great young man there".

I already know that. I welcome this new young man into our family, he really is a good, kind person. I'm just not ready to let go of my baby yet.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Small Stuff

One day last week I was bustling around the kitchen making supper while I was washing the dishes from lunch (and breakfast). While I was doing this, I was also doing laundry. I tripped over a million pairs of shoes in the laundry room while attempting to carry yet another load of dirty clothes to the washing machine, and tripped over the same mountain of shoes on my way back out with the clean clothes to be folded. I cursed the shoes under my breath and announced to Whoever Might Be Listening that if I tripped over them again I was going to burn them all and the owners would have to go barefoot for the rest of the summer.

Once I got to the kitchen table and dumped the clean clothes onto it, Madeline began whining about how she didn’t “get” her homework and would I please help her. It was also around this time that a very grumpy Connor decided that her homework looked like the perfect spot to draw pictures, so he kept trying to climb onto her chair and scribble on her work.

“Mommy, I can’t do this… Con-nor! No Connor! Get down!!… Mommy! STOP Connor!! Mom! Connor is tryin’ to… NO Connor!! MOM-EEEE!”

Meanwhile, Connor is taking a tantrum: “Eeennnggghh! Maddie! I want to draw! Nnnnnn! Uhhhhh….I WAAANT UPPP!! I want to DRAAAAW Maddie!! Uhhh huhhhh! Waaahhhhh! WAAA-HAAA!!! Then he crumbled onto the floor and screamed. Very loudly.

It was here that Terran saunters into the kitchen and says to me in a dead voice; “Oh yeah, I have cadets tonight at six.” I stopped in my tracks for a moment, glanced at the clock and saw that it was 5:15. In disbelief I looked at him – sweaty and dirty from playing outside and waiting for me to tell him what to do. I didn’t disappoint. “Don’t you think you should be in the shower then instead of in here doing nothing?” I snapped.

“Whatever.” He snorted as he headed for the stairs. He mumbled something but I couldn’t hear it over the escalating tantrum happening on the floor in front of me.

By this point Madeline was shrieking about a pencil mark on her work, Connor was on the floor kicking and screeching at the top of his lungs, and the potatoes were boiling over. Rushing to the stove, I tripped over the dog, who panicked and bolted for the door. In doing so, she walked on the cat, who was sleeping on the mat in front of the sink. The cat of course hissed and swiped at the dog, who panicked some more and ran back to me, bumping into my legs and causing me to burn my hand on the steam rolling out of the pot.

Madeline was whining “He ruined my HOMEWORK!!”
Connor was screaming “ I WAAANT TO DRAAAWWW!!”
Terran was yelling from the bathroom upstairs “MOM! There’s no hot water!!”
The washer started spinning off balance, banging and rattling the entire back porch. By now, the other two cats had to get in on the action, so all four animals were flying around the kitchen like someone was chasing them with a knife. My hand was burning. Cursing, I dropped the lid, where it fell onto the stove and then onto the floor, spitting little beads of boiling water onto my bare arms and legs like miniature daggers. Then it happened.

I lost it.

“That’s IT!! EVERYBODY knock it OFF!!!” I shouted. Sucking in another breath as fast as I could, I continued my rant “I’VE HAD ENOUGH!! JUST STOP IT!! What the hell is WRONG with you guys anyways? You’re all making me CRAZY!!”

For a split second, there was silence. Or maybe that was just my brain exploding. “Nice. Way to go, dumbass” it chastised me.

The washer continued to squeal and clunk loudly in the porch. Connor sucked in his breath long enough to fuel another scream. Madeline sniffled and then started bawling. The animals looked at me as if I had grown three heads, then scampered off into the rest of the house. Terran continued to yell down for me to shut the washer off.

I wanted to disappear. I felt weak and suddenly very drained. As if on autopilot, I slowly picked up the lid off the floor, put it back on the pot, turned the burner down, then shut the washing machine off. In the midst of all the chaos, I eased myself into a chair, ignoring the world around me. “What is wrong with me? What the hell was I doing? Why? Why did I just freak out like that?”

“Because you’ll never be perfect, Amy. They don’t expect you to be.”

I realized then that I was not living my life for me and my family, but for everyone else. I was letting other people’s expectations of me as a stay-at-home-mom dictate how I was managing my home. I was swimming upstream against a strong current. Why? Why was it so important to me what other people thought, when I had just lost it in front of my kids? Did I feel that I had something to prove because I wasn’t working outside the home? Did I feel that somehow I had to conform to their expectations because otherwise I would seem lazy? Like a bad wife and mother? Somehow I became so consumed with meeting these expectations, I failed to realize what I was doing to my children. I was robbing them of their mother. And now I had hurt them because I felt inadequate.

“I’m losing it. I’m friggin’ losing it.” I muttered to Nobody In Particular. Putting my head in to my hands, I drew a shaky breath. The tears were stinging my eyes, yet I didn’t cry. My throat was raw, and my insides felt empty. I felt like the worst mother in the world. I violated something somewhere, perhaps it was my own sense of self along with my children’s feelings. This was not the mother I wanted to be. I felt like such a failure. Their little hearts are in my hands, and I crushed them. I was so careless with their feelings. How could I do that to my beautiful children? Do they know how much I love them? Are they feeling unloved right now?

“I’m sorry guys.” It came out in a whisper. “I’m really sorry guys.” I tried again. “I should never have said that.” I picked up my sobbing toddler up off the floor and kissed the top of his head as I pulled the sniffling Madeline to me for a hug. My tears spilled over. “I’m so sorry. Mommy loves you sooo much. I’m having a really bad day and I took it out on you guys and that was wrong of me. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”

I’m not sure how long we stayed like that, embracing and soothing our hurts. I felt their warm little bodies against mine, and fresh tears rolled down my cheeks. How I love them! They’re growing so fast, this is not what I want them to remember about their childhood. They need to express themselves, however much I might disagree. They need to cry. They need to giggle. They need to whine. They need to argue amongst themselves and solve their own problems. They need direction when they can’t find it on their own, but they need to try first. They need to get dirty and be smelly sometimes and they need to know that they are loved unconditionally. They need to be little. I was reckless with their feelings. I had taken them for granted, and they still loved me. I silently vowed to try harder, to do better, to be a better mom for them. To be the mom I know I was meant to be, not the mom other people think that I should be.

As picturesque as it is to think of a warm loving home where children play a board game happily together on a braided rug on the floor in front of the fireplace…smiling Mother prepares dinner in her pearls and heels, hair neatly in place…whistling Father arrives in the evening to an immaculate home and sets his briefcase (okay, lunchbox and workboots) by the door and is greeted with hugs and smiles and a hot dinner (not Hamburger Helper) on the beautifully set table where you can actually use a real cloth table cloth instead of plastic placemats because the children’s table manners are quite good… these days just don’t exist at my house most times.

I think maybe every mom has days like this. The days where we just wish we had a solution for everything, a calm demeanor and an organized home. I realize that every individual family has their own coping strategies, and I have to use the one that works best for my family. For example, my friend only does laundry on Mondays and Thursdays. She is raising six kids. Six. To me, she seems organized, relaxed, seems to have a pretty good handle on All Things Family. If you were to ask her, she would laugh as she hands out a snack to her toddler while picking up hockey gear off the floor and say that her life is one giant car pool and call it “organized chaos.” She genuinely seems to love it. She doesn’t sweat the small stuff. In retrospect, it is all small stuff, really. Laundry gets washed, the plants get watered, pets get fed, the floors get scrubbed, supper gets cooked, and the homework gets done. So what if the house isn’t spotless every day? Who really cares if there are six loads of laundry instead of two?

It’s the important stuff that will enrich my life, and it is the important stuff that humbles me. The important stuff is worth crying over, especially if you learn something from it. The important stuff is the fragility and innocence of the hearts and feelings of my children, and remembering that without them I would not be a mother at all.