Sunday, September 30, 2007

Cinder-ange's fairy godtherapists

I love professionals - counselors, social workers, occupational therapists, doctors, teachers, behavioural consultants - I love them all! Maybe a little too much...

As some of you may know, I can get a tad needy at times. It's no wonder. Caring for a son with special needs, a daughter with an attitude, a husband with health concerns, a home, a yard, and a dirty little hamster, while starting a writing and teaching career isn't exactly a walk in the park. (It's more like a run through waste-deep water, over slippery rocks, dodging sharks and piranas, all while cooking dinner.)

But as a caregiver, I love to give. So I don't want to be needy with my friends, I want to give them encouragement, support, hugs, and the occassional cheesy joke.

That's where my professionals come in. Like Paris Hilton and her team of hair-stylists and dog-walkers, Ange the superstar homemaker needs her support team. I get to be super needy with them so that I can keep giving everywhere else.

This week we met with our social worker to plan our family goals. (Nathan's kind of like our fairy godmother. We name our wishes; he helps us make them happen. But don't tell him I called him that.)

Here are some of the goals we came up with:
1. To have more fun as a family, with more activities at home and more outings.
2. For Ange to relax and and have more time to herself for important tasks such as shoe shopping, biking, and sushi dates with Deborah.
3. For Tony and Ange to parent more as a team instead of tag-teaming.
4. To combat parental fatique. (I fear this will mean giving up some 11:00 PM episodes of CSI.)
5. To improve the family's bedtime routine.
6. To crank up the romance.

Not a bad list, huh? More fun than your typical New Year's Eve "lose weight, save money, drink less, and declutter the filing cabinet" list, anyway. No, the Schellenbergs are going to eat more, spend more and let the messes lie - all in the name of fatigue-busting, team-building, stress-reducing family and marital FUN. Ha!

And in the process of implementing these goals, I suspect we will realize we made most of the changes on our own without fairy godmother's wand. But it sure is nice to have the support people around to get us started in the right direction. (If only Brittney Spears was so lucky.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"Commencing Safe Walk. Over."

Last night I was escorted downtown by two men in uniform. No I wasn't apprehended for creating a coffee-induced disturbance. And I'm not dating the fire department.

I was on a "safe walk."

I had an appointment on Portage Ave. last night. It's wierd but I always walk faster and look behind me more when I'm downtown after dark.

(I once heard a transsexual on TV say the difference - going from walking down the street as a man to walking down the street as a woman - is that as a woman he/she felt like she had "dollar bills taped to her back." All of a sudden he/she had something people wanted to steal that she couldn't hide in her trunk - her body. Sounds wierd, but it resonated with me.)

I feel quite fine walking near my home after dark, even though I've never had a bad experience downtown, but my car and house have been vandalized in the suburbs. Illogicality aside, I'm obviously not alone in my core-area-paranioa.

Because when I arrived at my meeting I was handed a phone number for the Downtown Biz and told I should call "call for a Safe Walk." The person who answered the phone asked where I was and when I'd be leaving. When I left my meeting two men with walkie-talkies were waiting for me outside to walk me to my car.


It felt so different from my walk there. I was still a semi-attractive whimp with a purse. I was still downtown after dark. But who I was and where I was didn't seem so important... who was walking beside me.

I walked a little taller. I smiled at the wild-looking people at the bus stop (who are probably more sane than I am but look intimidating). And I thought about all the things I'm facing this year - teaching College for the first time, praying that my kids' school won't close, helping an autistic child learn multiplication - and I realized I wasn't as scared as I was a few weeks ago.

I'm still the same sleep-deprived, over-emotional, neurotically-perfectionistic person. I've still got the same insanely-overwhelming life. But that doesn't feel so important anymore.

Because I know who's walking beside me.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

My God-list

I'm a firm believer in praying about anything. Not that I always remember to pray. But my philosophy is if it's big enough to worry about, it's worth praying about. That would include parking spots, stretchmarks, and dryers that go cachunk-cachunk when they're not supposed to.

My husband, the wanna-be time management coach, says the act of writing things down on paper gets them out of your head, freeing up your brain for more important tasks (such as, say, baking him his favorite pie). So this spring I made a "God-list" of things I didn't think I could afford, to get them off my internal Greed button and into God's hands.

This week I found the list and it's very interesting:

Occupational Therapy for K. - I convinced an OT at the Autism Service to see K., (covered by Manitoba Health). We've had our second session (out of 5) and she is so helpful. An example: She gave us a wiggly seat cushion - K. now sits for meals instead of standing, wandering or tipping over.)

Speech Language Therapy - Will be covered by T.'s new health plan, whenever I find a therapist.

Summer Camp - This spring we got a letter from our caseworker saying K. qualified for a free one-on-one worker to accompany him if he attended camp. I found out Camp Assiniboia has a subsidy program. K. spent a wonderful week at day camp.

Swimming lessons - Both kids took lessons and both learned to float on their own this summer! The pool even gave K. private lessons for the same price as group lessons because of his diagnosis.

New windows - We found a renovation company that gave us an amazing quote. Our new windows are ordered and should hopefully be installed before the snow flies. (I'm even getting grilles - I love grilles!)

New bed - My brothers moved out of my parents home last year, leaving them with more beds than they needed.

RRSPs - I called a friend who works as a financial adviser and we found a way to swing a small monthly contribution. She may have even found us a cheaper life insurance.

Basement Bathroom - Okay, I still don't have my bathroom, but we did clean out some of the junk in the basement to make room.

Cool, huh?

I'm not saying this to brag or gloat. It wasn't an easy summer by any means. T. injured his back at the beginning of July and God still hasn't answered our prayers for healing. I spent the summer doing all the yardwork T. couldn't! We didn't get any holiday time and Tony wasn't up to doing much around the city either.

But this exercise just reaffirms in my mind that I have a heavenly Father who loves it when I trust him with my dreams. However small.