Category Archives: Maks

I made a mistake

I wrote this post over a year ago but it feels like it could have been written yesterday.  I have struggled with publishing it ever since I wrote it.  This is perhaps one of the biggest things impacting my life right now.  And it has been weighing on me heavily.  It weighs on me on a daily basis.  I don’t really talk about what is going on.  I try but I just can’t articulate everything I feel.  It’s something I just deal with.  Only, now, it is getting too hard to deal with it.  I need to put this out there.  I need to start to heal.  I see now that things will never be the way they were.  I am starting to understand that the way things were was never the way I saw it.  And in order to accept the way things are meant to be, I have to start letting go.

And it all starts with this post.

*****

Once upon a time, I made a mistake.  I assumed my children could be loved by someone else just as they are loved by me.  I made this assumption because I was able to love a child that was not my own as if they were mine.  I went out of my way to be inclusive and fair and assumed that would be extended to my boys as well.  I made this assumption because I believed my children were important to people other than myself.  I made this assumption because I believed that others saw how special, dynamic and fun my boys are and they appreciated this just as I did.

I shouldn’t have made this assumption.  

It has become obvious that loving my children is not something they wanted to do.  In fact, my children are not even on their radar most of the time.  My children are now being ignored and pushed aside in favour of others.  There is time for text messages, phone calls, outings and visits but just not with my children; with everyone else but just not my boys.  Outings are discussed in front of my boys and then they are excluded from attending.  Invitations are not even extended.  They just hear about an event and know they are not welcome to join.  It’s as though they don’t even exist.  They are an afterthought or a pity phone call when the reminders of their existence become too much or there is fear of repercussion for ignoring them for too long.

And now my kids are hurting because they assumed the same things I did and can’t understand why things are not the way they were.  They remember when they were included and don’t understand why they are being excluded now.  They are too young to fully grasp just what is going on, but they do feel the hurt.

I should have realized sooner the type of person I was putting a lot of faith into and I should have realized sooner just how incorrect my assumptions were.  I should have realized that they were all about spending time with my boys because it was convenient for them.  I covered everything.  I was responsible for everything.  Now that they don’t need me, they don’t need my boys and they have no issues forgetting my boys exist.  

I have been dealing with a lot of pain lately, both theirs and mine.  I have been trying to show my boys just how special they are, just how loved they are.  I spend a lot of time distracting them.  Having them focus their attention on other things so they don’t have the time to feel the hurt.  And for the most part, it is working.  The hurt isn’t there as often but there are times when it does show up.  Then I have to spend nights explaining just why they weren’t invited to do the fun things or why visits are nonexistent.  I hate those conversations because I know we wouldn’t be having them if I hadn’t made the assumptions I made.  I was the one that put my faith into the wrong person and now my boys are suffering for it.

I will never do that again.

Things I learned in April

Facemasks make me break out.

So I tried a couple of different kinds of face masks over the past month. They were all these random combinations of exotic ingredients meant to make my skin amazing.  I have to say that I don’t usually use things on my face.  I have good skin to start with.  I normally don’t get acne or any other kind of common skin issues.  So when it comes to my face, it’s just bar soap and water.  But I really wanted to try the face masks because they looked so cool.  (Yes, I feel for the marketing.)  So I bought them and tried them all out.  And what I learned was I should just leave well enough alone.

The first kind of mask I tried was clay. It was meant to get rid of impurities and make my face feel tighter and younger.  This one was OK.  It did what it said it would do but it didn’t have the all the pomp and circumstance of other masks.  It is was ingredients I could pronounce making my skin feel smooth, big whoop.

Then I tried a mud and algae mask. Again this one did exactly what it said it would do.  It cleansed, it tighten and it moisturized.  But like the clay mask, there really wasn’t any kind of pomp and circumstance to it.

The last mask I tried was the black charcoal mask. This was the dramatic one.  It was the one I had been waiting for.  You could feel it tightening.  After a while it was hard to talk and peeling it off resulted in all these little white things being pulled off your face.  It was satisfying actually seeing things being removed.  Since the other masks just washed off after you were done, you never really saw if they pulled gunk off of my face or not but this mask let you see the gunk it all its glory.  So I made it up in my mind, this mask was my favourite, simply because I could see what it was doing.

Until later in the week, that is. My face had started feeling funny.  It would burn when I applied lotion to it.  It was really sensitive.  And I started to notice blemishes on my skin.  I was getting blackheads and they were noticeable.  I was getting pimples.  Nothing major just little ones but I had never gotten pimples before.  It was weird. And it was all because of the face masks.  Using them deep cleaned my face, yes, but they also made my skin more susceptible to all the things I had been able to avoid for most of my life.  So now I need to figure out how to get my skin to being as resilient as it used to be.

Apple cider vinegar is not a cure all.

The next big thing for April was apple cider vinegar. A co-worker of mine swears it can help with anything going on in your life.  It’s what coconut oil was in 2016.  She swears it can help with hair loss/hair growth, weight loss and everything in-between.  So I started using it for Maks skin issues and as a hair rinse.

For Maks I made this wonderful little scrub and I have had him using it every couple of days. For my hair, I diluted the cider with some water and would use it to rinse my hair after shampooing but before conditioning once a week.

Maks used the scrub and I used the rinse for about a month and the verdict is, we are both smellier but his skin hasn’t changed and my hair is just about the same. I am sure apple cider vinegar works for some people and maybe we just aren’t giving it enough time to be effective but Maks skin condition is something we have been dealing with for a long time and it may take something stronger than apple cider vinegar to get it cleared up.  I am on the fence about whether or not I am going to keep using the apple cider vinegar in my hair.  I need some sort of reassurance the rinse is working for me to keep using it.  In my mind, if I haven’t seen any results four weeks in, it’s just not working.

*I got this cartoon from Adamtots over on Instagram. His watermark is on the cartoon if you want to check out his work.

**I didn’t try all these masks at the same time. Even though the post makes it sound that way.  I tried them over the course of the month.

Concussed

Maks ran into a wall yesterday.

If you know Maks, this doesn’t surprise you too much. Ever since he was a baby, Maks has bumped into things, ran into things, fallen off of things and jumped off of things. He is the type of kid who runs at things head first as fast as he can and doesn’t concern himself with the consequences.

Now in his defense, his intention was not to actually run into a wall. He was playing a game, tried to slide away from the person chasing him, and he slid into the wall. The problem was he slid with such force there was an audible crack as his head smashed into the wall. It was such a loud crack, his teacher was concerned he might end up with a concussion. So I spent the night on concussion watch*.

Maks didn’t have any of the symptoms really. His head hurt and he had an impressive bump but none of the other signs. He was talking fine, he wasn’t sensitive to light and he wasn’t oddly fatigued. I still ended up waking him up at midnight though. I wanted to see if he would wake up and he did. He has a mild headache today and he was still sleeping when I left the house but nothing was out of the ordinary. Right now, I am going with no concussion, which is a good thing but I will keep an eye on him because sometimes being concussed** takes a while to show up.

Before I had kids, I never knew what the signs of a concussion were. Why would I need to know this? It never even crossed my mind to even look up what the signs to a concussion were. Now I am well practiced in concussion signs.

Le sighs.

I can’t wait for my kids to stop running their heads into things.

*If you don’t know what to look for in a concussion, here are the signs.

  • A mild to moderate headache
  • Drowsiness, dizziness, or loss of balance
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • A change in mood (restless, sad, or irritable)
  • Trouble thinking, remembering things, or concentrating
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Short-term loss of newly learned skills, such as toilet training
  • Changes in sleeping pattern or fatigue

**I really wanted to use concussed in a sentence.

Apple Cider Vinegar – Just Like Windex

I loved the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. Way back when, I thought it was hilariously funny. And now I swear I am working with one of the characters from the movie; the dad, only my coworker is female and younger. In the movie, the dad had this fixation on Windex. Whenever anything went wrong, he was certain Windex could fix it. And my coworker is the same way. Only her fixation is not Windex, it is on apple cider vinegar. I swear any time I mention an ailment or inconvenience, her solution is apple cider vinegar.

My conversations with her go something like this:

I have a headache – use apple cider vinegar

I have a clogged shower head – use apple cider vinegar

I haven’t been sleeping well – use apple cider vinegar

I have baked on grease on my cookie sheets – use apple cider vinegar

I have killer crampsuse apple cider vinegar

I have thinning hair – use apple cider vinegar

I forgot to put on deodorant – use apple cider vinegar

I need to lose some weight – use apple cider vinegar

When it comes to her, every problem has one simple solution; apple cider vinegar. No matter what the topic of discussion is, I know what the response will be and even though it is funny, I never really took her seriously. I am sure apple cider vinegar is good for some things, I don’t believe it is the cure all she claims it to be.

Until now.

I went to get some of the lotions the dermatologist recommended for Maks’ Keratosis Pilaris and ended up speaking with the pharmacist about some natural options to treating Maks’ skin. She even suggested apple cider vinegar scrub in lieu of the lotion I went in to get. According to her, she has seen better results in children when an apple cider vinegar scrub is used instead of the Salic acid solution.

So I am jumping on the apple cider vinegar bandwagon. (My coworker would be proud) I have put together a brown sugar apple cider vinegar scrub for Maks to try out. The hardest part of the scrub was finding the organic apple cider vinegar with “mother”*. I use apple cider vinegar when I make pasta salad but apparently, I couldn’t use the same kind of vinegar for the scrub because it is not organic. Organic apple cider vinegar with mother wasn’t something I could find at my local Walmart. After some searching, I ended up finding the vinegar at a local bulk food / health food store.

Then came scrub assembly. It is a super easy recipe; equal parts brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and coconut oil. Voila! You have a scrub to combat Keratosis Pilaris. I was super excited to try it out and so was Maks until he got into the same room as the concoction and smelt it. The scrub smells horrible. According to Millhouse the vinegar smells like fart, Maks says it smells like feet and Mats says it smells like farty feet. It really is an awful smell and Maks was put off when I told him it would have to be rubbed onto his skin. He was a trooper about it. He plugged his nose and used it last night. So far, nothing has changed with his skin and I really didn’t expect it to after the first application. We are going to try it out every other day for the next couple of weeks and see what happens. If there is no change then I will head back to the pharmacy and just pick up the topical ointment I went there to get in the first place.

*mother is the important part of the vinegar. It is a specific molecule chain that makes the vinegar cloudy and effective.

Keratosis Pilaris

Ever since he was born, Maks has had these little bumps all over his arms, torso and parts of his legs. In the summer, the bumps even spread to his cheeks and forehead. They don’t change shape, itch or ooze anything. They just seem to exist as part of his skin.

As an overanxious first time mother, I took him to the doctor and was told the bumps were perfectly normal and they would eventually go away on their own, I was not to worry. But after about a year the bumps were still there so it was back to the doctor we went. The second visit to the doctor was during the height of summer, the bumps were clearly visible on his flushed face, so much so they made the doctor take notice. This visit proved more productive than the first and it resulted in Maks being diagnosed as allergic to sun screen. We were told to use sunscreen sparingly on his body and not at all on his face.

OK, that’s a start. But not using sunscreen didn’t prevent the bumps. In fact, even when no sunscreen was used, Maks still had the bumps and he was starting to get self-conscious about them. The other kids were starting to notice them and the obnoxious ones started to make fun of him and his bumps. So it was back to the doctor we went and went and went over several years. Each visit resulted in being told that what Maks had was normal and he would eventually outgrow it. I was never actually told what the bumps were or if there was anything, I could do to them. After many visits, I convinced the doctor to refer Maks to a dermatologist, at least that way we could get a second opinion and some sort of formal diagnosis as to what the bumps were.

We waited close to six months before Maks could get in to see the dermatologist. The dermatologist ended up telling us more than our family doctor did though. Maks has Keratosis Pilaris; a common skin condition. The bumps are supposed to start in your teens and eventually disappear by the time you are 30. Maks is one of the few kids who got it before he hit puberty. While there is no cure for Keratosis Pilaris, there are loads of treatments. Most of them are topical solutions made up of Salic acid you apply right to the bumps. These solutions help to get rid of the bumps, and in some cases, the bumps disappear altogether. All of the ointments were available over the counter. None of them required a prescription. And the best part? The ointments could be used on kids as young as two. So Maks would totally be able to try some of the treatments and hopefully find one that worked for him. With summer coming up this is great news.

Yay for progress!

Say No To Flash Cards

At the meeting with Mats teachers, they suggested some ways to incorporate word games into Mats daily life. It is to help him recognize letters and numbers and encourage him to write them in the right order and direction. They didn’t recommend flash cards because they didn’t feel Mats would respond well to having letters flashed in front of his face. Mats teachers wanted me to get creative when it came to word games because Mats tends to get bored so easily and trying to cram in a list of words into a short period just won’t work.

They gave me a lot of suggestions and I picked a few to start out with. We started playing the games almost right away and I have found that both boys have benefitted. I can adapt either game into French and English and for Maks, I have even started incorporating math into the games.

Here are two of their favourites. These work really well for either English or French, not so much for math.

Memory:

This one seems obvious but it never occurred to me to give it a try until Mats teachers suggested it. To make the game I repurposed some old business cards. I flipped the cards over to the blank side and wrote out one word on the back of each card. Then I wrote out the entire list again on another set of business cards so there were two pairs of each word. When we play, I pick out 4 to 10 pairs of words and mix them all up. Then I lay the cards, word side down, on a table and the search for matches begins. All the participants have the say the word they flip over and when they make a match. If Mats doesn’t recognize the word, then we spend some extra time sounding out the letters but otherwise the game moves along quickly. Both boys are competitive and they each want to find the most matches so it is in Mats best interest to learn the words as fast as he can so he can beat his brother.

Lego Blocks:

This one requires a large amount of Legos, which I have stored in what feels like a bazillion boxes all over my house. The Lego blocks take a while to set up but once it is all put together, Mats can spend some quiet time putting them together. You use one long piece of Lego for the entire word then Mats has to put the word together using smaller pieces of Lego. It’s a Lego word puzzle. It helps Mats learn to sound out letters and put words together but he can also work on family words. This game best suits his personality, he gets to put things together and he gets some quiet time. Both of those things are important to him.

So far, I see the games helping Mats. He is getting better, the backwards letters and numbers are still there but they are getting to be less frequent. I am hoping this gives him a more exciting perspective on reading and writing.

Prayer for March Break Camp

March Break is officially upon us. This year the boys are in camp for the week. The boys don’t always go to camp for March Break. In fact, this is Mats first year at a March Break camp. Maks has gone to camp a couple of times but I normally would have opted out of March Break camp. At my old job, I had so many holidays I would normally just take March Break off and forego the camp experience but with this new job I can’t do that just yet.

So it was off to camp they went. They were both super excited and nervous. Camp is a big deal and a bit overwhelming, especially for Mats. I wanted things to go well so I uttered a little prayer to universe as they left for camp. Now let the record show I am not overly religious. For the most part, I am bad at adhering to my religion. I believe the universe will give us what we put out but sometimes asking for some help isn’t a bad thing.

This morning I asked the fates and faeries to let them have fun, to let nervousness subside quickly, and to have the others kids see how awesome they are while they recognize how awesome the others kids are.

I know most likely all those things will happen anyway but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

More than they will ever know

The boys and I were watching TV. I can’t remember exactly what we were watching so it was probably a ridiculous cartoon or maybe it was MacGyver or maybe it was some sort of cooking show, that’s not the important bit. The important bit was we were all watching and having little side conversations as we went along, you know.

So on comes a commercial and it has Ashley Graham* in it. I think she is just really pretty and tend to say things like that out loud and this is what happened.

Me: “She’s just so pretty”.

Maks: “Who?”

Me: “The lady on the commercial. Her name is Ashley and I think she is just so pretty.”

Maks: “You are so weird, mommy.”

Me: “Why? I can think people are pretty.”

Maks: “I know that! But you never always miss the point.”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Maks: “You’re really pretty too but you never say you’re really pretty. You always say other people are pretty but you are just as pretty as that lady on TV.”

Mats: “Yeah mommy, you are pretty like that lady. You just never say so.”

And as quickly as it started, the conversation ended and they moved on to using paperclips to save the world or something equally as random but they totally changed my night.

I may not always believe I am pretty but I know for sure that I have the most awesome boys.

*if you don’t know who she is, google her.

The “Talk” or lack thereof

According to the radio this morning, around six years old is when you start having the “talk” with your child. Apparently six is the age when all the questions start and so for most parents they are forced to start talking to their child about their bodies and the changes they can expect.

This was all news to me. I have yet to have the talk with either of my boys and Maks is almost ten. Neither of them have approached me about the topic and because I am the biggest prude known to man; I haven’t brought it to their attention either. There are times when, in passing, they will talk about getting chest hair or something similar but there has been no real discussion about puberty, body changes or anything along those lines. I know the school curriculum has already started touching on some of the topics but I think as valuable as sex education is in school, I should be part of the discussion with them as well.

I am wondering if I should have the talk with the boys, just pick a day and time and have little conversations with them. To be perfectly honest, I am not terrified of having the talk. I am a scientist by nature and I can talk about the biological changes with no issues. I just haven’t really bothered with it because they don’t seem interested in it and I don’t want them to just ignore me because they really don’t want to talk about it.

The rational part of my brain knows that talking about it with them before they start talking to their friends is a good thing. I can make sure they have the information they need before the speculation from their friends starts filling their heads with nonsense but getting started is the hard part.

Life in bullet points

Sheesh things have been busy and not busy and hectic and not hectic.  I’ve been busy and lazy and then busy and lazy some more.  With all the stuff going on blogging just falls lower and lower on the list of things to do.  Blog stuff happens and I say I am going to blog about it and then real life happens and I have to push off the blog post to another day and when I actually have time to write it then it really doesn’t apply to my life anymore so I decide not to write it because it won’t convey the emotion I want it to convey.

So this is my attempt to catch up on a month’s worth of happenings in a short post.  Most of it is relevant to things going on right now but a couple may have passed by already but were a pretty big deal.

·         Mats lost his first tooth.  It was one of those teeth where it just popped out of his mouth while he was at school, no coaxing required.  There was no need to tie a piece of string around his tooth and slam a door or anything crazy.  There was no real drama associated with him losing his tooth which I am happy about.  The tooth fairy showed up like she was supposed to and he was happy and so was I.  Sometimes losing you first tooth can be traumatic and other times it is easy.  This was an easy one.

·         Maks participated in his first judo tournament.  He came in second in his weight division.  Now there were only two kids in his weight division so they were both guaranteed trophies but he still walked away with something and that was huge.  He was nervous at first but as the fights progressed he got more confident.  All in all this was a good learning experience for him.  He says he wants to do more tournaments because he thinks he will do better next time.  And that’s exactly what I am going to do for as long as he wants to.

·         Cold weather is upon us.  We have had our first polar vortex of the winter and about 25 cms of snow (spread over two different snow storms).  I remember now just how much I dislike shoveling snow and it’s only mid-December.  It’s not going to be an easy winter like last year.  Things are cold and they are probably going to stay that way for a long time which really sucks for me.

·         Keeping in the theme of cold weather; we have started our cold weather activities a lot sooner this year than in previous years.  We have already been sledding already and only experienced a few sledding related accidents; the sled broke while Maks was barrelling down the hill, and both boys were taken out (by the same kid) as they were hustling to get out of the way at the bottom of the hill and Millhouse fell down the hill trying to save the boys from getting wiped out (by the above mentioned kid) but other than all those things, we survived.  And only after just an hour and a half outdoors.  Heaven knows what will happen when we spend an entire day outdoors.  Next on our list of winter things to tackle is skating.  A friend of ours had some spare skates so I have skates now which means I will be going on the ice with the boys and Millhouse this year.  Pray for me.  Like seriously, say a prayer I don’t break something or fall and bruise my tailbone or anything.  I haven’t skated since I was 16 and at my best, I wasn’t particularly good at it and at my worst I was pitifully horrible.  So yikes, I am going to give it another go so I can at least say I have gone skating with the boys.

·         It’s almost Christmas and we are pretty much ready.  The tree is up and the house is mostly decorated.  Our nativity scene is MIA somewhere in the garage so this year we will just have to go without one.  For the most part we have presents for everyone and the majority of them are wrapped (woo to the freaking hoo!).  For us this level of prep is some kind of miracle.  Normally by now Millhouse and I are scrabbling trying to decorate or get things wrapped for people or remembering last minute gifts we need to pick up.  But I am pretty certain that is not happening this year (fingers and toes crossed).

And that brings you to now.

I am not promising to blog more but I will definitely try.  I am off for a week so maybe I can actually get some writing done.  Again, no promises.