I don’t have the energy to be my worst enemy anymore.

13 Aug

A couple of weeks after I asked my husband to leave, I had an Akashic reading with my friend Tara.

As she entered my home, she said I needed to slow down. She had been in-tune with my energy for hours and my anxiety was forcing her to clean. That’s the fun thing about my anxiety, I clean until I can’t clean any more and then clean again. It’s easier for me to move my hands than listen to my thoughts.
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Let’s End the Cycle of Violence

5 May

I used to think that women in abusive relationships were covered in bruises, scratches and welts. They were weak, scared and shook a lot. At least that’s what my mom looked like to me when I was a child.

I always told myself I would NEVER end up in an abusive relationship like mother. I’m too strong, too independent and too wise beyond my years. I’d never let a man treat me like that.
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How Frozen Helped Me Love Myself More

21 Apr

Frozen: the movie I’ve seen at least 30 times and the soundtrack that plays non-stop when my girls are in the car. Let’s just say I can bust out any Frozen song on cue and I’ve made my own Do You Want to Build a Snowman words including: “Do you want to poke your eyes out? Or maybe slit your wrists?”.

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Inspiration From a Miracle Baby

14 Feb

It’s funny, the moment I start thinking about the person that had the most positive influence on my life, only one person comes to my mind- my mom.

My mom means a lot of things in my world; nurturer, care giver, best hugger, confidant, Grandma and best friend. She’s the first person I call when I am happy or sad. She is a fantastic listener and gives thoughtful advice.

When I was a child. Life was pretty rough. We didn’t have a lot, I grew up in a trailer park and mom was was sick a lot so we ended up in Foster Care for a while. Through all of this there was one constant in my life, the unconditional love from my Mom.

I was born 11 weeks early to a scared 18 year old girl. I weighed 3 pounds even and could fit into my mom’s hand. The Dr’s at the hospital were convinced that I was going to die and they told my mom that it was better for her to give custody of me to the province so she wouldn’t have to deal with my care and funeral expenses. They all thought I was going to die, it was just a matter of time.

My mom agreed and signed away her parental custody of me to the Province of Alberta.

While I was in the incubator, I started growing, showed an active brain and could breath on my own. All things that they told my mom wouldn’t happen. The nurses referred to me as a Miracle Baby.

Right after my mom had given me up, her intuition started telling her that I was still alive. She said she still felt connected to me. Because she had given me away and she wasn’t getting updates on how I was doing, she started following around one of the nurses that was looking after me. She asked over and over again if I was still alive. After weeks of pestering, the nurse finally told my mom that I was still alive and doing well.

My mom wasn’t allowed to see me in the hospital so she took the matter into her own hands. She wrote a heart felt letter to the Surgeon General asking to get me back. I have no idea what my teenage, single mother wrote in that letter but, I was given back to her.

My mom taught me to fight for things even if they aren’t easy. She left an abusive marriage with nothing but three kids and the clothes on her back. She fought to put herself through school to better herself and to show us that hard work pays off.

My mom taught me that love is all encompassing. I knew I was loved by my mom every day of my life, without fail. She  me birthday cakes, Christmas presents and Halloween costumes by hand. I knew we were poor but, I didn’t feel like I was missing out.

My mom taught me to be compassionate. She would put together plates of Christmas dinner for the elderly people in her community and had us kids deliver them. Although we didn’t have a lot, it was always shared.

Most of all, my mom raised me with confidence and a positive self-esteem. She always told me that I was beautiful no matter what and never questioned my love for books over sports (okay, maybe she did tell me to go outside and play once in a while). She fully supports everything I do even if it does include 20+ piercings and tattoos.

I am who I am because of my mom.

Mom, you are my inspiration to be a compassionate, driven person and to smile everyday. I love you!

Choosing the Right Baby Formula

6 Feb

A couple of weeks ago, a question was asked to Erica Ehm @yummymummyclub on Twitter about what baby formula to use. As a huge internet geek with a love of research, it made sense for me to share my knowledge on the subject.

I exclusively breastfeed Tenesea for over 5 months before I was told I wasn’t producing enough milk to satisfy her. I was told to start supplementing as soon as possible. Apparently, Tenesea hadn’t gained even one ounce in the past month. I walked out of her Dr’s appointment in complete shock.

I headed to my nearest drug store and stood staring at the baby formula for what felt like hours. Questions were spinning through my head.

How do you choose baby formula?

What’s the difference?

How do I make it?

Being a typical first time mom, I ended up buying the most expensive formula and the fanciest baby bottles. Obviously the most expensive option was the best. I didn’t want to cheap out on my baby, she deserves the very best.

I got home, boiled water, shook the bottle for the exact time alloted and watched Tenesea drink greedily.

After a couple of weeks, I couldn’t believe how much money I was dropping on baby formula. I joked that her bottles were filled with liquid gold and would chastise myself for dropping any of “the precious” on the counter or floor.

Each time I went to pick up a new can of formula, I wondered if I was choosing the right brand.

I grabbed my laptop and started Googling.

I started with the manufactures of baby formula in Canada. You have Abbott Nutritionals (Similac) , Mead Johnson Nutritionals (Enfamil), Nestlé Canada and PBM Nutritionals. The most interesting of these to me was PBM Nutritionals. I looked through their website and started putting together a theory that they must be making white-label products by manufacturing, packaging and selling their baby formula to companies to label it as their own.

I took my analytical brain to Superstore, Shoppers Drug Mart and Wal-Mart. I analyzed and took pictures (I love my iPhone) of the labels on each of their store brand formula (with iron and Omegas). It turns out, there are all the same. The EXACT same.

I was so happy to uncover this and was even more ecstatic to find out that all baby formulas had to go through the same strict guidelines by Health Canada.

So, what does this mean to you? How does this help you choose a baby formula?

Knowing that Superstore, Shoppers and Wal-Mart formula were made of the same ingredients and that they had to abide by the same regulations as Nestle and Similac, I made the decision to give Tenesea the store brands. Not only could I buy baby formula from any of these stores, I could buy in bulk when one had a sale.

I finally felt like I had the background knowledge to make an educated decision and not one made by shiny packaging or marketing.

What was your experience purchasing baby formula for the first time? What did you choose?

Daddy feeding Tenesea her formula

Discrimination and Helplessness

5 Jan

I would have to admit, 2001 was a crazy year for me. I had just graduated school, worked 3 jobs and was in a serious relationship. In mid 2001, Derek and I decided to bite the bullet and move into together. It made sense, he was always at my apartment anyway.

As the apartment I was currently in was in the Alberta Avenue neighborhood and I had to fend off “how much” questions while walking home from school wearing jeans and a hoodie, it made sense to us to started looking at new places to rent. Derek was working days as a brick layer and I was working nights at the Blackdog Freehouse and for BAD Concerts (now The Union) so it made sense that I would be the one going to check out the apartments during the day.

It wasn’t easy during this time to find a place to live. There was a less than 1% vacancy rate and because we were looking in the Whyte Ave area, it was even more scarce. I looked for a good month before I finally found an apartment that would allow us to bring my cats. I went in, took a look around and filled out a rental form. I had been open and honest with the couple that my boyfriend and 2 cats would also be living in the suite.

I was so excited to get the call the next day that my references and credit check went through. We would be moving in at the end of the month. I gave notice to my current apartment managers and started planning out our move.

The day of the move, we started bringing small things into the apartment. We had about half of our belongings in before the truck came with the larger objects. Our new landlord walked out of the back door to meet Derek by the moving truck for the first time, he stopped dead in his tracks and grabbed my arm and started leading me back to the apartment.

He asked if Derek was the person that was going to be living with me. I said yes and reminded him that Derek’s name was also on the apartment lease. His next words stopped my heart from beating.

“You will not be living here, I will NOT allow that kind of a person into my building”. The tears started rolling down my face. He took one look at my 260 pound bodybuilding, tattooed boyfriend and didn’t want his “kind” in the building. Pure discrimination, at this point he hadn’t even spoken a word to Derek.

When I look back on this situation, I still remember his stinging words “I will take you but, not him”. Just because my tattoos could be covered up didn’t make me any more or any less of a person than Derek. I cried and pleaded with him to give us a probationary period. I even got down on my knees and begged. Yes, I begged him to take us in.

Nothing I could say would change his mind. My only 2 choices were to 1) Turn my back on Derek 2) Become my absolute worst nightmare, homeless.

I made my decision and was homeless.

Derek called his mom and we told her the situation, because she was such an amazing person, she didn’t hesitate to take us both (and the cats) into her home until we could find a new place to live.

I was furious as I am sure you could imagine. The next day I went online and made phone calls to see if we had a legal leg to stand on against the apartment manager. According to representatives at the Landlord and Tenants Advisory board, you can not discriminate against someone based on their ethnicity or race but someone with tattoos/piercings were fair game. She then told me that if he was black and tattooed, it would be another story. I even tried saying that “well, he is kind of colored with the tattoos”, it didn’t help.

It ended up taking 6 months and being scammed out of a down payment for another apartment (that’s a whole other story) before we finally found an apartment. Thank goodness for people like Derek’s mom. She was a true jem in this world.

I am sure that wasn’t the first time that the apartment manager had discriminated against someone and got away with it. I would also think that it would have been his last but, I’m positive I would have been wrong. At the end of the day, I guess I needed to learn about asking for help and accepting it. I also learned that forming an opinion of people based entirely on their outward appearance is a terrible, terrible thing to do to someone.

Powdered Milk and Cheese Slices

14 Nov

While in Grade 4, my brother, sister and I were put into temporary Foster Care. My mom was very sick in the hospital and my dad worked 3 weeks on and 1 week off as a tool push on an oil rig.

I only had one request, keep the three of us together.

This was easier said than done. I was 11, my brother was 9 and my little sister was 4. The social workers finally found a house that would take all of us in.

We packed up our belongings and was taken to the “Smith” (I have no idea what their actual last name was anymore) family. I was happy because their house was close to school and I was grateful they were willing to take us in.

We came to the house after school. Our social worker made sure we got situated and stayed with us until after supper. They seemed like a nice family. Mom, dad and two kids just a little bit older than me. They had a nice home and lots of toys to play with.

Sleep came easily as we had such a crazy and emotional day.

The next morning, we walked hesitantly into the kitchen for breakfast. It’s hard to know the protocol for hungry kids in an unfamiliar home.

Mrs. Smith was making pancakes for her kids. Oh man, I was so happy! We hadn’t had a warm breakfast since my mom was hospitalized.

I reached for the pancakes and my hand was slapped.

“Those are for our real children. You can have cold cereal.”

I was crushed and tried to understand. My little brother and sister were looking at me with hurt little faces.

I was then told that as we were “unwanted” we could not have real milk, I had to go to the sink and make us milk. Powdered milk.

My eyes were starting to tear up but I needed to be strong for Jill and Dallas.

I made powdered milk for the first time in my life and poured it over the yellow no-name brand Toasted o’s.

We finished our breakfast and was handed our lunches. Two slices of white bread, a wrapped cheese slice and an apple.

On the way out, she told Dallas and I we should be grateful we were even eating.

The next couple of weeks were emotionally draining. I was the oldest so I got the brunt end of her anger.

– We were unwanted
– We were ungrateful
– We were terrible children
– We ate too much
– Our clothes were disgusting
– We stole from her (I know in my heart we didn’t take anything)
– We should be thankful that she took us in.

I swallowed my tears and pain. We were together and safe, that’s all that mattered.

Mrs. Smith even found a cheaper way to give us breakfast. She went to a farmer and bought unpasturized cow’s milk. We weren’t worth even the powdered milk anymore.

Although we survived this discrimination and pain, it still makes my heart hurt. I can’t believe human beings treat each other like this.

Wether you are gay, lesbian, black, Hispanic, Jewish, Muslim, Catholic or just poor kids in a poor situation. No one deserves to be treated like this.

Discrimination is cruel. End of story.