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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

post-degree

Well I've officially completed my degree and can now say I AM a social worker.  It's been probably the greatest achievement I have ever made in my life and something I did truly and utterly for myself.  I gave up the dream of being a social worker to travel with X for his career, putting myself on the back burner, working at jobs that satisfied my other education but never what I truly wanted to be.  Maybe it was some sort of innate intuition or what, but 4 years ago I got an itch to find a way to finish my degree and there was an urgency in that need.

I found it through the University of Manitoba and a complete online program that they offered.  Designed to be part time, I was free to take up to 9 years to complete it and they took my previous education into account leaving me with just core social work courses to complete.  I've since learned that it's insanely hard to get in and by divine intervention I made it the first time.  In fact mail was so slow in the Yukon that I got my phone call wondering where my tuition was long before I got the acceptance letter that had been mailed out to me.  I distinctly remember sitting on the couch with tiny baby E in my arms in Teslin getting the news I was accepted, crying with a joy and a fear I hadn't anticipated.  I remember he gave a lack luster hurrah to me, I was accustomed to it.

I worked hard.  I parented and worked throughout my degree.  First I worked part time but eventually when X walked out on me I had to work full time.  I always parented the majority of the time and my school work was never given a priority by anyone but me.  I truly feel he thought I would never finish it.

One semester I had a very sick baby, another semester I threw my back out and wrote an exam very high on pain killers after just being discharged from hospital.  I moved across the country another semester, I separated from X and moved my entire family to Newfoundland (this was the hardest semester of my life).  Through depression and upheaval I trudged through.  My transcripts reflect the periods in my life that were tough.  Through the B's and multiple A+'s come a barrage of C's...these mark the hard semesters and the hard times in life but those C's were hard earned and hard fought for.  They mean more to be then a sub-par academic achievement.

Through it all I found tremendous strength in not only knowing I had to now provide for my family, but that I had to become the person I wanted to be.  I had to form an identity, be my own person, be proud of who I am and have my kids proud of me.  Every semester brought their own challenges and as a single mom I struggled hard to balance.  I put the kids to bed at 8:30 and then started papers.  They were so tolerant of my web conferences and quietly agreed to an earlier bed time and no disruptions during them when they coincided with our nightly routine.  They respected the evenings that I really had to do papers instead of movie night, they never complained.  They don't truly understand what I've done, but they will.  Tonight E asked me if I was "in school" while checking e-mail and when I told her no I was done school she beamed and said "So now you social work??"

Yes baby girl, now I social work; now I am a professional.  I have completed my dream and I can't wait to work in it.  I can provide for my family and feel fulfilled in what I do during the work week when I am away from my children. I succeeded despite the obstacles thrown at me, despite the negative energy around me, despite every reason to not.  I succeeded and there is no one who can take that away from me.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Life Skills

Everyone knows I am super big on taking on tasks and giving them the old college try.  A task that seem intimidating really peaks my interest and I go full throttle into the experience with a lot of anticipation and usually just a few moments of outright frustration.

This past week E used the towel bar on our bath surround to help get out of the tub and ripped it right off the wall (we now refer to her as hulk).  The two gaping holes left behind were going to cause a lot of water to get in and ruin my walls, there was no question it had to be replaced.

I was hesitant, this isn't a small project.  This is our only bathroom and I'm venturing into territory I can't see.  Will the walls be ruined, moldy, what will I encounter?  I priced out the bath surround at $89 and figured there was no way I could justify the $500+ it would cost to hire someone, I had to do it myself.



My kids are great.  They don't bat an eye at me so when I headed upstairs to begin the demolition at 8:00 at night instead they saw the opportunity for a delayed bedtime and dove in with me.  My son just assumes I'll be doing all the renovations.  He doesn't think for a second why a girl would do it or ask me to call granddad, I'm glad that I have modeled that for him and I hope later in life he expects his partner to be as capable and isn't intimidated if they are (unlike some men I know...ahem...wink wink...yeah it's you!)



child labour

I was impressed how easily it began to rip from the walls after I scored the seams.  The kids loved it, ripping stuff down is FUN!  The walls were in amazing shape, this was going to be a good reno!!

Then came time to take off the fixtures.  There are hidden allen bolts all over those things, who knew???  Thankfully YouTube is a wealth of british knowledge (all the instructional videos appeared to be from British blokes) and soon I was fine.  The shower head was down, faucet removed, dammit why is that allen bolt on the lever stripped!!  A quick google search told me that was common and know I needed to drill that bugger out.  There goes the lever, add an expense.  I drilled, I cursed, I freaked out, I kicked the lever, I bribed the lever, I bought a carbide bit....then I literally with brute force broke it off and told it  F U lever.  Then I went to buy a new one.  So yeah, you can't.  You can only buy kits with the faucets and shower heads and levers and they start at $99 ON SALE and go up to over $300.

Now I was sad.  I headed to our local plumbers shop who have always been amazing to me and showed them my lever and plate.  They are Moen dealers and sure enough they had one in back and charged me $25.  SCORE!


The installing of the bath surround was amazingly easy.  I even used a hole saw for the first time to cut out the areas for the pipes and didn't screw it up!!  Dry mount the pieces for fit, add lots of adhesive, apply, repeat.  I loved it.  Instant gratification.  As I was reinstalling the fixtures it was looking immediately good and I was so proud. 




 Now the caulking.  I hate that.  I suck at it.  My dad came to inspect and was very impressed.  I tried to persuade him to do the caulking but he was a firm believer that I do it all start to finish.  It was messy, but honestly it looks pretty professional and it's a pretty good water tight seal if I do say so.

I can't say caulking without giggling
Now my tub is as good as new and I can say I did that.  I did demolition to installation and all the parts in between.  It's good for the soul to feel capable and strong and it's definitely the type of person I want to model for my kids.



Friday, August 12, 2016

Family Vacation 2016

This time last year my family was descending on my house, this year we went to Ontario to my middle sisters house.  All 12 of us arriving on different days and then departing the same way, she was quite gracious to make the hour drive on the 401 6 separate times to both pick us up and drop us off.

Being around family is that fun bag of complete relaxation, bickering, rolling of eyes, bonding, and straight out re-living the youth when we all shared the same bathroom.  Watching my sisters and brothers-in-law bond with my kids, and in turn me bond with my nieces and nephew is priceless. 

We arrived in the middle of a heat wave giving us almost 24 hours of high 30's, even 40's temps.  At night it felt like a sauna outside and the windshields would steam up like a bathroom mirror after a shower.  Thankfully sister has an amazing in-ground pool so we were able to lounge at home quite often to escape the heat, although there were excursions of which we usually suffered for.  It's also quite the task to wrangle, arrange, drive, and supervise 12 people at every outing so we soon grew wary of being tourists and just enjoyed our own company with each other, a keg, and a pool.

My kids are amazing travelers, like over the top amazing and they maneuver airports like champs.  I hope to continue to travel with them a lot in the future.

Highlights:
- surprising J with the limo ride from the airport
- watching J learn to actually swim with no floatation devices and do front flips into the deep end
- watching E love her Uncle Greg so much even though she hasn't seen him since she was 4 months old
- St. Jacobs farmers market with the frittery, fresh lemonade, fresh produce, smoked meats...amazing
- African Lion Safari when E fulfilled her dream of seeing a real live giraffe as 6 walked in front of our vehicle and looked down at her
- J finally seeing the CN tower
- lunch out with just my sisters (TWICE!)
- lounging by the pool
- big family suppers of 12 people crowded around the kitchen table
- nights curled up all together watching the Olympics
- rib fest, need I say more

Just watching the cousins play together was enough for me to know this was a trip worth every cent.  Any time you can get family all together is a blessing and those who aren't spread out across the country just don't understand the importance of making this happen.


look up, look way up




this girl loves her ribs





Monday, August 1, 2016

still on a discovering journey

I'm still amazed how three years in this divorce consistently forces me to learn more about myself, and things I am happy to learn.  Having the kids back now for 48 hours has been the best 48 hours of my summer.  It's been the lesson I needed to realize my love for being a parent and my desire to always do best by them.

It's the simple things I enjoy with them, just their existence in my day to day world, and the feeling of them curled up next to me in bed.  If nothing else I learned I am a co-sleeper rediscovered and the comfort and deep sleep we all get snuggled together affirms it.  J is hit or miss, he likes his bed and space, but he also knows he is welcome in my room any time.





Having them back is so enjoyable to watch.  Right now I am outside on the deck writing this, hot tea next to me (I still love hot tea in the summer), and the kids are across the street playing with a neighbour, skateboarding together and learning tricks.

We just got back from a salon trip where J got his hair cut and E got a surprise pedicure complete with piggy back ride out by the pedicurist so her toes wouldn't smudge.





We've had a friend over for a sleepover, an evening at the Y pool, movie night, supper out, free concert in the park, and a walk to the store for treats.  It's our norm, our every day, and I missed it terribly.

I know I am a good mom, I know I care about my kids and about raising them to be self-assured, loving people who stand up for their opinions and beliefs, and know I support them every day in whatever they choose and whomever they are.


Friday, July 29, 2016

My support network

In my world I have friends scattered near and far.  My sisters live provinces away.  My parents are down the street.  When I need them I reach for them all and I've learned who my support network is.  It's a group of people who have my back, unequivocally support me.  They remind me who I am and bring me back to reality when I am flying high on emotions. They normalize me, rephrase things for me, let me cry and swear and rant. 

They are the people who know texts will be flying when tensions run high and give me even 5 minutes of their busy lives to lean on.  They are the people who's doors are open should I need to run and decompress for awhile.  They are the people who call at 11 pm when they know you aren't sleeping and say "I've opened a bottle of wine and there are 6 chocolate bars here" and you know they don't care that it's an early rise tomorrow, they just want to comfort you and distract you.

I've come to stop feeling guilty about using my support system.  I need them.  I would do for them in a heartbeat what they do for me. 

Only a select few know the whole story.  Know my innermost feelings, the truth about what was done to me, and the plans I have made for myself and my family.  They know the story and I trust them with it. 

My support network is rich and because of them, so am I.