Thursday, 9 November 2017

Birthday Cake!

Let's admit it - with all those billions of ideas on Pinterest, saved ideas and recipes from Facebook - there are several choices for a birthday cake!

Well, this year was no different.

We decided to host a small birthday party of the A-Man and V-Man's closest friends and it was more or less (unexpectedly) dinosaur themed.

Let me first point out a few things when it comes to me hosting a birthday party:
  1. I am lazy AF.  I don't really decorate - mostly because it's too late and I forgot.
  2. I am on a budget.
  3. My home is a single bedroom flat - hence I only invited 4-5 kids.
  4. I keep it to 2 hours.  One hour for playing and hanging out, another hour for eating and gossiping with the other parents.
  5. I put the most effort into the food.  Mostly so I can Instagram it later on and inspire other lazy AF parents like me. :) I also keep it simple!
So!  The cake request from A-Man was originally some super hero thing - that was last year.  Then as it got closer and his interests changed as well - he started leaning toward dinosaurs!

Well, I didn't have to search far for ideas - I am happy to say I didn't even go to Pinterest yet!  I planned something simple like a round cake, frosting or fondant on top and stick some dinosaur toys on top.


Then I told the boyfriend (we will discuss this later) about my cake idea - and he got really excited (as most guys do about dinosaurs and big monsters that go ROAR!) and suggested boldly, "You know the cake needs a volcano right?"


So I got really excited...I mean - the little kid that cannot sleep before Christmas morning excited.

So I planned a chocolate cake, green butter cream frosting, crushed Oreo cookies for dirt, Rice Krispies volcano, red Jello and the dry ice...The boyfriend was not able to attend the party this year - however, he contributed by picking up a bag of mini dinosaur toys - which came with some greenery, a fake stone and a plastic log too!

That damn dried ice doesn't exist in Finland.  Apparently I have to order it as if I am having a raving house party!

I just wanted a tiny piece.  That's it.

Well - seeing as that was a no go - I decided to just make red Jello (including refrigerating it) and pouring that into the volcano.

Here is my step by step tutorial!

Dinosaur Birthday Cake - With a Volcano!

What you need:
  • A cake - pick your flavour or boxed cake mix. I threw one together from the top of my head. I baked it the night before...or the morning of at 2am with a glass of wine with a girlfriend - depends how you look at it!
  • Buttercream frosting - if you end up with extra - save it or slap it on cupcakes (which I did).
  • Crushed cookie crumbs - I used Oreo because it closely resembles dirt/volcanic rocks.
  • Dinosaur toys - we honestly found that bag of toys at the second-hand store and disinfected them well! (We also don't have a dollar store here in Finland - so I got lucky and found something on the cheap!)
  • **Rice Krispy Square mix (Rice Krispy cereal, marshmallows, butter and chocolate): I added the melted chocolate into the melted mix of marshmallows and butter then the cereal!
  • A bowl or cup to form the RK volcano around.
  • Red and/or orange ready to eat Jello!
  • Birthday candles!
** Make the volcano a few hours beforehand or even the night before so it's really nice and dry and sturdy!  I made mine the morning of the party and popped it in the fridge.  I ended up downsizing it because the bowl was too big and it took up too much space on the cake.  Make sure there's a wide enough opening to fill it with Jello at the top.  If it spills over - it'll look more natural! :)
** Part 2: When making the RK volano - just stick it onto the bowl or cup - I originally tried a plastic cone-shaped sieve and tin foil wrapped around it with cooking spray and it did not stick at all! :)

Once your cake is baked and cooled, frost it, and transfer the cake to your display or serving platter.
Sprinkle some cookie crumbs around, place the volcano on top, fill with Jello and assemble the dinosaurs randomly and evenly around the cake and add your birthday candles!

And there you have it!
Hopefully this helps and I apologize there aren't more step by step pictures!  But you get the idea I hope! :)

Take care and thanks for reading!

PS A-Man was really tickled pink about the cake and V-Man was happily helping me out with some things too with it.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Momster: Solo Parenting

Soooooooo I've been solo parenting for approximately 8 days and the PIC comes back home tomorrow late at night some time.

PIC had a work trip to Canada and seeing as he's awesome at me going to the gym nearly daily at night for a couple hours - along with trips with my girlfriends - I wished him the best and told him to go.

I PROMISED myself and him that I would not text him on Whatsapp unless it was urgent or positive.
I wanted him to have fun, enjoy himself and have a SOCIAL LIFE and a break.

Here's what happened so far (please bear with me as I look through my newsfeed on Facebook):

Day 1: Everything was normal.  We did a lot of walking...7km of it! and I am obsessed with my "Map My Walk" app (because "Map My Run" just doesn't happen in my life) - and although it's a battery killer because it tracks your location - I still love it.
Oh wait - then A-Man and M-Girl napped a solid 5 hours. I was in a genuine panic because they kept sleeping and sleeping and sleeping.  This never happens! A friend of mine swung by (she works in the healthcare field) and confirmed my kids were fine.
PIC and I were worried about sunstroke from the outdoor playing the day before - but it was fine. They woke up for ice-cream...just nothing else.

Day 2: Nothing weird.  I made a pesto and gouda-stuffed chicken breast wrapped in bacon and slapped that on top of some coconut milk noodles and some spices - pretty darn tasty!
We walked 3.35 km.
Oh! I found out my daughter is pregnant with a teddy bear - and I'm going to be a grandma.

Day 3: M-Girl "girl-splained" my period to A-Man.
She has a tendency to just burst into the bathroom and after her last accident months ago - when we actually tried to have privacy and locked the bathroom door for a somewhat peaceful crap -  we've kept the door mostly unlocked.
So - M and A burst into the bathroom - not because they needed it - just because.  Because they're kids and that's what they do.

I was in the process of cleaning my cup and A-Man panicked and asked what I was doing.

Me: "Um I'm..."
M-Girl: "Se ("it" in Finnish) Mommy's cup.  She has pee-wood (period) and it goes in her China (vagina) because there's blood. Then it no go in Mommy's underwear."
A-Man: "Okay."
M-Girl looks at me, hands me a pad and says: "Here's your band-aid.  Your underwear band-aid.  Put it there.  Okay?"
Children exit the bathroom and slam the door.

She's 3.

Day 4: I made chicken and pesto nachos with the leftover chicken meat :D.
Oh and my daughter corrected my manners when she asked me if I wanted to jump on a crack on the sidewalk.

"Momma - you want to jump?"- M-Girl hopping over cracks on the ground.

"No THANK YOU. Say it again."
"No thank you M-Girl."
"Good job. That makes me happy. I jump now."
She might be a parrot - but I'm happy she corrected my manners (I was chewing ice-cream).

Day 5: M-Girl had a growth spurt and screeched her head off and wanted a banana.  From this night on - she woke up in 20-30 minutes spurts.

Day 6: Utter crap.  Kids refused to listen AT ALL.  No amount of bribes or threats could do the trick.
On the flip side - I made home-made gummies using this recipe.  Easy-peasy! Loved them and the kids did too!
I have since made more...they're chilling in the fridge.

M-Girl decided sleep was for the weak and pathetic and offered her skills of waking every 10-15 minutes.  LIKE CLOCK WORK.  
Told the kids we could have a "Super Cleaning Party" only if they're good.  They're pretty pumped.
M-Girl barfed in the middle of the night.  Wahoo...and then continued her 10-15 minutes spurts of sleep.  AKA power napped all night.

Day 7: She barfed again this night but we got to the bathroom in time!! And there were pink streaks. AKA blood.
Boys were asleep and it was nearly 2am.  So we called a cab and returned by 4.
Learning how to prep a throat swap test...
She wore her awesome science girl pajamas and had a blast with the remarkably sweet and kind nurse.
She was thrilled to donate blood to a worthy cause (aka a finger prick test for infections) and it turned out to be really bad strep throat.  Got the prescription to pick up in a few hours and went home via cab.

4am: "Mommy - we need to walk the dogs.  They don't pee and poop in the potty."
She's wide-awake.  She's absolutely correct.  We did it.
I had been awake for 22 hours.  I slept a broken up 4 hours...
Day 7.5 (it felt like they kind of merged together...): We get up and go to downtown via bus to get her prescription of penicillin filled.  Just our luck - none of the downtown locations have it because there was a gap in delivery times.  Had to wait a few hours and go across town to another location - once our family doctor approved the different brand and dosage...

0 shame in admitting I had a meltdown of grand proportions.
Soooooo I washed A-Man's face and he freaked out and it began to BLEED.  I was honestly just trying to do my motherly duty of wiping off the crusty milk stains and poof - blood.
Looked closer and it turned out his face was covered in bump-like zits.
Sent a pic to my nurse friend who said "looks like impetigo - it's highly contagious".

GREAT.  It's after 5pm - so we went to the ER because I have no way to be guaranteed a doctor's appointment the following day...(This comes from experience as it's been 2.5 weeks and I am still waiting on my doctor to send a text to make an appointment...)

I can't get a sitter because my daughter has strep I get all three dressed and hope it isn't busy.

First thing A-Man says while observing a patient being pushed in a bed by a nurse:
30 seconds later:

I managed to convince him (once I recovered from trying not to laugh) that the person was asleep...

Within an hour and a half  - which is "forever" in kid language - the doctor writes up a prescription for antibiotic cream to apply to A-Man's face.  And yay - the rest of us can use it too in case it spreads.  Because it's contagious like a...I'm too tired to think of something clever.

But naturally - the system hates me this week.

Mr. Doctor says: "I'm sorry - the prescription isn't going through online.  There's some technical difficulty...are you able to pick it up tomorrow instead?"

Yeah buddy.  I'd rather wait until the following day than wait around or go between pharmacies again within 24 hours.

Then our bus driver didn't acknowledge our request for a stop - and we missed our direct connection to home.  Got home 40-minutes later because my kids have adopted a tortoise/snail/sloth hybrid-lifestyle when it came to walking home from a different bus route...which normally takes 15.

******* At this point - I've lost it.  I'm internally feeling like a beat-up exhausted piece of crap mother with 3 kids that simply don't give a sh*t about my mental health and haven't listened to a word I said after Day 1.
I reached out to a mutual friend of me and PIC and asked her to get his attention so I can call him (she's at the same conference).

He answered within 3 rings (impressive as usually his phone's on silent) and he had read my near violent text messages about everything going on with the kids' health...and I just sat on the floor waiting for M-Girl to finish pooping for the billionth time that day and sobbed my head off.

He was his typical PIC self and said, "Whenever I travel - something comes up.  You know - if it was reversed - it would've happened to me. *awkward chuckling*"

Not, "You got this.  You're awesome.  Drink wine.  Eat ice-cream."  Just his simple matter-of-fact support. 

Plus side of this day?  V-Man apparently knows how to use my roll-on deoderant and smelled way better than any of us.  Especially his knee caps.

I had to buy a new one because he used it all...but at least he knows what to do - right?!
Day 8: Apparently my daughter can scream so loud in a massive grocery store that the live accordion band will stop and wait before continuing to play.  And they're on the other side of the building.  And there was a strip show involved.  Her - not me.

She also spilled a full cup of milk because I went to throw something in the trash...I left the kitchen for all of 4 seconds.  Then V-Man followed her out of the kitchen with a duvet to soak up the mess.

Day 8.5-ish: She peed in the bed today.  Not her own that has a protective sheet.  PIC's.
But at least she's sleeping a few hours at a time now before whining and screaming for me.
Kids went to bed around midnight (V-Man) and 12:30am ...which is the ONLY reason why I am awake writing 2:21am.

Good grief this was a crazy long post!

But - PIC is back within 24 hours...then I plan on taking the dogs and escaping to my flat.



PS Kudos to all you single parents/caregivers/guardians out there...I have supported my local alcohol shop by slowly drinking my bag of wine and completely forgot to celebrate Midsummer with my cider that's chilling in the fridge.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Momster: Stranger Danger and Mama Bear Defcon 5000

I am very grateful I live in Finland - a parenting paradise when it comes to raising children.
Giving birth here is simple, to the point, health care is excellent and the focus of this country is on the children and raising a family.
Finns keep to themselves and I've never had someone try to get too close to me (aka rub the belly) unless they asked first and actually knew me...

Once in a blue moon - I experience Momster rage.
I'm lying - I experience Momster rage all the f*cking time with my kids - but today was different.

Again, who am I kidding?
This morning was f*cking horrible.
  1. I was taking a poo (don't laugh - you do it too) while my bread machine was doing its thang and making our yummy croissant dough (for the first time may I add).
    While I was doing my thang - my lovely M-Girl decided to chop up 2½ pages of price tags I needed to get rid of my junk for the second-hand store.
  2. Once I noticed she had been getting all crafty/artsy fartsy with my Fiskars adult-sized scissors and price tags (at 50 cents a sheet - no big deal - but I obviously can't use them when they look more like Happy Birthday ruffled banners can I?)...I noticed she had been colouring on herself again.  With a Copic marker - aka PERMANENT.
  3. What's wrong with that?  Well, she had coloured lovely tattoos and her own interpretations of us as a family (aka squiggly stick drawings)  ALL OVER HER BODY yesterday.  Issue was that it didn't come off.  At all.  So I used a homemade chia seed lavender soap and got half of it off the following day.
  4. She was now a dark blue speckled Smurfette and I was livid.  She hated the scrubby soap - but tough luck.  I tossed her back in the shower scrubbed the heck out of her again and it thankfully came off because it was fresh ink.  (Lord help me if she gets tattoos as frequently as she draws on herself...)
    So, I take a look at the living room - walls are fine - but sofa...not so much.  Because she drew with that very royal blue permanent marker on a piece of paper with the sofa as the back drop.

    THANKFULLY - the sofa is dark grey.  With dark blue blotches on it...
So my nerves were already shot - safe to say.  This all happened before 8:20am too.

But we had things to do and damn it - we were doing it.

So I rented a table at the local second-hand shop and had some things ready to go.  I packed what I could and we hauled butt (me, V-Man and her) to catch our connecting bus downtown.

Guess what? They don't connect because the one we needed to the shop  - left five minutes prior to our arrival.  Next one was in 30 minutes.

Fine.  We'll sit there and avoid the frustrating grunting demands that the V-Man had (from wanting to eat out) - and just chill.
Thankfully (sadly) there was a fire truck nearby with lights flashing - so that occupied my kids for a bit.

Then the stranger danger occurred.

Remember, I live in Finland.  Parents let their kids nap in a stroller outside without fear of their kid being kidnapped because - common sense! - who wants to steal someone else's kid that you'd have to feed/clothe/bathe etc?!

This woman came stumbling nearby and while I didn't smell alcohol on her (it wasn't even 10am yet and yes there are drunks in our town at that time of the day) - she was clearly "on something".
I had seen her before running about and figured maybe she had places to go and also needed a toilet.

Well, she sidled up to us and sat down beside us - which is fine - everyone is entitled to sit where they want.
My issue right away was that she was blowing cigarette smoke in our faces and I would prefer to avoid that.

So I quietly moved my kids away from her and the massive Ikea bag of stuff I was bringing to my table - and what did she do?
She struck up a conversation in Finnish - which I politely ignored (primarily because it was just babble) and then realized at the end she muttered she was going to stick with us.
I was on automatic alert then - because I simply don't know what she was on and she really did stick with us.

She finished her cigarette while talking to M-Girl (who is the friendliest little thing and clueless with strangers) and once she put it out - she asked me where to go via a certain bus.
She didn't understand my Finnish and thought I said I was going to a hardware store...fine - I don't care.

Then she grabbed V-Man's ball cap on his head - and he started making threatening grunting and moaning sounds.
This amused her and while his hat was still on his head - he was pulling away from her and clearly stressing out as he was gripping his fists closed, hitting his chest and groaning "UM!" (In Finnish it's "en" - "I don't want") and looking at me with a "WTF?!" look on his face.

I put my bag down (and a set of kid skis) and told her in Finnish loud and clear to not touch him.

An elderly woman came nearby and she was also sticking her hand in between my son and this woman's hand because she began to grip my son's shoulder and M-Girl was close enough for her to grab as well.
This kinder stranger warned her that the police were on their way - a million thanks super hero elderly lady!

I have never experienced Mama Bear rage (aka Defcon level 5000) until that moment.

I yelled at her to go away and while she stopped touching his hat - her hand was still on his shoulder. Her eyes were wide and a little out of it - and that's when I suspected it was something stronger than cheap booze and I was ready to lay a beating down on her if she didn't let go of my kid.

I pushed her hand away and waited for her to touch him again, my daughter or me and I was ready.

Thankfully, the cops in an un-marked van pulled up and pulled her away and she went fairly peacefully into the back of their van.

I smiled at the elderly lady in thanks and as the way of the Finns - we didn't say anything more and continued to wait for the buses we needed.

It's only afterward when I realized what could've happened - some ideas more ridiculous than others:
  • She could've hurt my kids.
  • She could've tried to hurt me.
  • I could've seriously hurt her and gone to jail.
  • She could've pushed my kids in front of a bus. (This was the more ridiculous idea.)
I was a shaking mess afterward.  Drunks here are typically quite friendly and I am sure her intent was harmless.  Typically they keep their hands to themselves though - which is why I got all Mama Bear Defcon 5000...and after the first time saying to leave your kid alone - they usually stumble off.

M-Girl was confused (V-Man acted like nothing happened) and asked why the police took that woman away.
I explained that she wasn't feeling well and drank too much grown-up juice and had to see a doctor. She seemed to accept that and then our bus came ten minutes later.

I'm sure the fact that V-Man didn't answer any of her mumbling questions was a very interesting thing for her and probably she was fascinated and thought even briefly we didn't understand Finnish - very intriguing indeed.

I guess this is was one of those situations that is a true nightmare for parents/guardians of non-verbal children.  That they cannot help themselves.  They can't fight back necessarily.
They can't yell for help perhaps.

It makes me more aware of what it's like to be helpless and not have your wishes understood and to not have a voice.

And I can truly sympathize with the non-verbal community that it f*cking sucks at times.


PS I am not the violent type at all - and haven't been in a fist fight - ever... but when push comes to shove - that adrenaline rush of fear, anger and frustration can really come in handy sometime.

Monday, 5 June 2017

A Side of Autism: Summer

I hate summer only because I am clueless with things to do with the kids when they have 10 weeks off.
But as it stands - for the month of June - I only have 2 kids at home plus 2 dogs.
A-Man is still attending day-care for this month and I'm trying to clean the place up (clearly - as I am sitting here blogging) and get rid of stuff.

That's right - I am beginning to CLEAN and de-clutter crap and I have a table rented at the second-hand shop to do so.

Currently, M-Girl is snoozing on the sofa for her nap and V-Man is beside me scrolling through Netflix!

If you didn't see my post on Instagram lately - my big guy won a stipend/award from his school for being the most improved student in his class.
Every year, the teachers vote for a student - one male and one female - from each grade and they get a special certificate and a bit of spending money as a treat.

I found out beforehand that he was getting the award and didn't realize the significance of this right away until his therapists clapped and cheered and everyone around the table seemed thrilled about this.

His teacher, Mrs. S said it was an easy unanimous vote and very well deserved.

I felt my heart swell with pride and while his party was on Saturday (they do graduations on Saturdays here in Finland) at 8:30 in the morning - I was excited to go.
PIC was supposed to go to it but after some discussion - decided it was a bit silly for him to go because he doesn't understand or speak much Finnish at all.

We were placed in a separate room off of the main stage room due to space and sadly couldn't hear a freaking thing because while the graduation was shown on a projector screen in real time - the sound was turned off.

I asked a teacher why this was and he said it would echo and cause the mics to go all screechy.

So I have no idea what was said and could barely make out what was on their screen in terms of lyrics to sing along to...

But I DID manage to get to the other room and watch V-Man protest going to the stage for his reward.
Once he did receive it - he was full of smiles (and he's missing about 4-5 teeth in the front and rocking the ol' man look easily) and seemed to understand he did something really good.

I had written down a list of things that he now enjoys from his therapists and one of them was DUPLO.
Chunky Lego.  Things I can see better and hopefully not skate across the room on...and guess what? With all that cleaning I started - I actually found a TON of it and haven't had to buy any!
(Just kidding - I'm going to buy more - second hand... to reduce the fights, screams and tears among ourselves while some practical building is ongoing...)

So now the V-Man's favourite things to do are:

  1. Eat nachos.  We go through 2 jumbo bags a week of them.
  2. Skim through Netflix.  PIC has it set up on his Xbox thing and V-Man cruises through - in and out of shows and he loves it.  
    1. At first PIC was ticked off about the 10-seconds (max) blips of shows starting and whatnot - but then we realized, it calms the V-Man down somehow and he enjoys it.  He's not being rough with the controller and he's quietly enjoying what HE can handle.
  3. Hike like a boss.  This kid went for a 2-hours or longer hike with PIC the other day and they had a blast!  
    1. He also enjoys walking with Loki using the Flexi-leash.  I realize some people have a love-hate relationship with that kind of leash but Loki is such a chill dog and is also 9-years old - that a Flexi works for him - and for the kids.
  4. "Play with Duplo" - by "play" I mean he hands you the piece and you put it on the Duplo base mat thing.  Although...if I have to go tend to something else - he seems to be able to build and take them off. ;)
  5. Youtube - same deal.  He skims and finds things he loves to watch and it's awesome.  He loves those un-wrapping toys/Kinder eggs videos, food reviews (a child after my own heart), toy reviews and snippets of his favourite movies.  I've learned that he's obsessed with Frozen sing-along videos...
  6. Clean. Yeah - he doesn't get it from me.
  7. Colouring - it's not in the lines.  I don't expect it to be! He has fun with coloured pencils and markers and just doodling whatever on paper.
He doesn't nap at all - so we don't press it.  We encourage him to go outside as much as possible to balance out his lack of a nap and he loves it.  He's not as fussy now when it comes to direction and almost always is willing to go your way.

He's also warming up to the idea of going to the playground which is nice - and enjoys the swings! He's also started learning how to play with sand - which is also exciting.

Until next time!

PS it was hailing/snowing and raining the first couple of days of to say - I am not getting my tan on this year.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Embracing the "Student Life"

I've been a student of some kind for the last 4 years or so of living in Finland.
I was studying Finnish once my boys got into day-care and then from there, decided I would like to get some sort of diploma and applied for a cooking vocational school.

The difference in the past years is living situations.

I've now completed my first week of living alone and this is what I have noticed:

  • The kids are adjusting just fine.  As I've mentioned before - I normally went to the gym at night once they went to bed anyway - and they saw me first thing in the morning - so this in theory- for them-, has not changed.
  • Loki is totally cool - Milo not so much.  :(
  • There is 0 oppourtunity to fight with the PIC - not that we fought much anyway.  I don't like fighting - but now, there is really no space or time for it.
  • PIC is socializing more and going out - which gives me a couple more hours with the kids if one protests bed time while he's doing things with friends.
    • This is huge because he's quite shy and is always with his nose in a book for work-related purposes.
  • I'm budgeting so much better and able to say "No" more to friends that want to go out.
  • I'm budgeting my time so much better too.  I book time (mentally) for school, gym, kids and travelling about via bus to get them.  I'm not budgeting enough time for sleep - but I blame Milo and my permanent (?!) crappy sleeping schedule.
    • I might not get to everything I want to do WHEN I want to - but it's getting done.
  • I've gotten rid of crap and will have a table to sell stuff as well early next month.  Still a long way to go - but it's progress for me.
  • I'm only buying food that I will eat, aiming for the discounted stuff regularly (within reason because I do not have a freezer!) and within reason.
    • I aimed for discounted food regularly anyway (especially meat) - but because I don't have a freezer - I am not buying an excessive amount and I don't eat a lot of meat at home now either!
    • I'm eating healthier.  I don't have the pressure of junk food of any kind (exception nachos - which I make healthy with cooked leftover meat, cheese and homemade guacamole for example) and my landlord had left behind some healthy goodies too - which was motivating.
      • My kids hate anything healthy it seems and PIC's Crohn's doesn't help or motivate them to eat better either.  So I try to do my best with the kids and hide stuff regularly into food - but for myself - I'm happy that I can eat vegetarian occasionally and with whatever spices and ingredients I like without the kids nagging my ear off!
    • I'm not eating as much - as in, I am not porking out on the regular. At night time I typically just have a sandwich, some yoghurt and a lot of water.
      • I feel healthier, my pants are getting looser slowly and I have a bit more energy than before - for the most part.
  • I do stuff my face at school.  Yep - free lunch until the end of the month - and I find I'm not as hungry at night time or the following morning because I am putting my heavier meal mid-day instead of late evening like before.
  • Less food is being wasted at PIC's home.  This is because I typically don't eat there with them.  I'm present and helping when wanted or needed.  But I only eat the leftovers or extras.  This has resulted to less food needing to be prepared and therefor, less waste.  
    • I'm learning that I had been overeating way too much before - and now that I don't factor myself in with his meal planning - he's saving a bunch of money from food not going to waste due to the kids.
      Think of me as a little portable compost machine.  HA HA.
  • I'M BLOGGING MORE!  I know - it's crazy.  I'm actually at school writing this all out or in the morning while I wait impatiently for A-Man to get dressed for daycare!
    • AND! I tested out my phone and I can vlog again while looking amazingly dorky with earphones plugged in!  So I will try to get back into that ASAP.
  • I'm exercising more without realizing it.  This is because I take the dogs with me at night time - and bring them back in the morning - so there is about 15-minutes walk between our flats.  Yes, I can bike to and from and it's 5-minutes one way.  But because I value my life - I'm not cycling and bringing the dogs at the same time.  :P
    • On the weekend there's a lot of extra walking too because I can do laundry then and brought the V-Man to come chill while we did laundry together (30-minutes/cycle).
For those thinking, "Oh you must get a ton of sleep now - all those years of broken sleep - you must finally be getting what you need now!"
Big fat NOPE.

Milo is stressed out - despite me doing everything in my power to make him comfortable.  My clothes are everywhere, I got new bones for him and Loki and while it is a small flat- there is space for them to sleep comfortably.
With that said, every morning - I have to bring the dogs back to PIC's place because Milo has separation anxiety when it comes to me leaving the new flat.  I can't let him bark all day (he would - trust me) - and the walls are quite thin and hearing him howl and bark would definitely drive my neighbours nuts I am sure.
And because those walls are thin - Milo hears everything.  If anyone is leaving their flat or entering - he goes wild.
I've tried to calm him down, I've told him to come to bed with me and so on - but the fact that my life is "clearly in danger" - he has to tell everyone to get away from my door and that he lives there.  :/
Unfortunately, I am moving again in August - so this is another issue for Milo and making it all the more stressful for everyone.

So I'm sleeping about 5 hours or less due to this and because I don't drink coffee - it's really taking a toll on me mentally.

And my body is programmed after 3 kids - to wake up between 2-4am for a feeding anyway...even though I haven't nursed M-Girl since she was 11-months old (she's now 3 years old).

Thankfully, I have a super long weekend coming up and then two more days of class before summer holiday.


Sunday, 21 May 2017

A Side of Autism: The #NightLightGate

Something we never had to deal with before is our kids being afraid of the dark.
Until about a month ago - I was crashing on the sofa and noticed a light was on coming from the kids room.

I walked in and saw A-Man was asleep, M-Girl was in the "big bed" with her dad and V-Man was in bed falling asleep.
So who turned on the light?!

I was assuming it was A-Man because he had done it in the past and usually it involved waking up his sister to play.  But she was sound asleep with her dad and A-Man was snoring - even with the light on!

I shut off the light and immediately heard a whiny groan from the V-Man.

A quick look at my cell phone confirmed every parent's worst nightmare - it wasn't even 4am.  It's going to be a long f*cking day.

So he immediately jumped out of bed and turned the light back on and crawled back in bed.  V-Man pulled his blanket up over his head and that was it.

I adjusted the settings to my phone so the auto time-out on my phone would last for 10 minutes and I laid down in A-Man's bed nearby and tapped my screen so V-Man had some light.

It worked, he settled down and after an hour of tapping my phone whenever he woke up whining - he finally crashed.

The next day I shared this thought that perhaps the V-Man was scared of the dark.
PIC thought I was kidding - until I snapped due to lack of sleep.

Here's his argument:
  1. He falls asleep in the dark.
  2. It's dark all night in their room as they have thick, dark curtains - so it couldn't be the sunlight bothering him. (In Finland it gets bright very early during the summer months!)
  3. Perhaps he woke up from a nightmare.
  4. He's never been scared of the dark before - so why start now?
  5. He is falling back asleep not because of my cell phone lighting but because of my presence.
So I whipped out my phone and went on the Whisper app and asked if it was possible for an autistic child to suddenly have a fear of the dark out of nowhere and what to do about it.
Someone autistic wrote back within minutes stating she's also afraid of the dark, never was before and a nightlight and a stuffed toy (if the V-Man's into them) should do the trick.

I told the PIC that I was going to buy a nightlight.

*Cue - biggest petty argument ever.

His reasons for not getting a nightlight:
  1. It's a waste of money if it doesn't work.
  2. He doesn't need one because he's "not scared of the dark..."
  3. I need to stop spending money on things not being used.
  4. Then he'll be dependent on the nightlight and the other kids aren't.
  5. It was probably just a one-off kind of night.
I stared at PIC for a moment and decided - F-it - I am getting one.
I did the reasonable thing and waited to see what would happen the next night - lo and behold - the exact same thing happened before 4am.

I was a bit better prepared and made sure to nap a couple hours before dog-walking - so this way, the early wake-up wouldn't hurt so much.

After my experiment (as short as it may have been) - I battled back my arguments for getting a nightlight:
  1. V-Man uses melatonin to fall asleep.  I've tried it once and it's quite hard to fight sleep once you've taken it.
  2. I'm the one waking up - sure I could let V-Man sleep with the light on but it's a waste of electricity and I don't want to risk the other kids waking up.  I'm nasty when I don't get enough sleep - as pathetic as that sounds.
  3. It's not a waste of money if it works.
  4. We can wean a kid off a nightlight.
  5. He crawls back to his bed to sleep.
  6. If he had a nightmare - wouldn't he whine or cry?  He's absolutely silent when he turns the lights on.
  7. My presence has nothing to do with it because it's just the light.  I'm not in the room when he turns the light on and crawls back in bed.
I bought a little nightlight and waited.

Third night in a row and he woke up between 2-4am and I quietly shut off the light and plugged in the nightlight.  It was a rotating one - so I pointed it downwards so it emitted a soft light in the room without flooding the whole room with light - and poof.  V-Man quieted and fell asleep.

So my new routine is putting the nightlight when I get back from walking the dogs - and we haven't had any issues since.

Now that I've moved out, I'm sure the nightlight doesn't get used all the time - but if the V-Man needs it - there is one available.

Naturally, PIC won't agree I was actually right about something and is probably still in denial about having a kid being magically afraid of the dark (last discussion about this - his response was simply "you've got him needing light now"...*eye roll) - but the main point is that everyone gets their much needed sleep and V-Man feels safe.


PS Overnight care confirmed he needed a nightlight well before we got one ourselves - for some reason that information just never got to another point for me! ;)

Update 30.5.2017: Nobody has needed the nightlight in a few days! :D  So perhaps it was just a phase.

Friday, 19 May 2017

The "D-word"

First and foremost - this is going to be a simple, matter of fact kind of post.

For those wondering why I've been quiet here - I've been busy.  I've been crying.  I've been stressed to the max.  I've been happy and have good days too.

First of all - I apologize I've been absolutely crap at updating this blog and making vlogs.  My phone speaker is busted - but today I realized (over a year later) that I could just look like a dork and film with headphones or earphones for the sound to work properly.  Duh.

So, my goal is to get back onto that.

Now, the D-word.
It's not pleasant - it's not a happy thing.

The PIC (Partner in Crime) and I are getting a divorce.  I filed it this past week.
I'm sure you're wondering why - simply, we just fell apart and didn't love each other anymore.  Of course there are a variety of little things - and funny enough, it's always the little things that mean the most and can impact the most as well.

He's still my PIC.  He's my friend - one could even say he's a best friend (which I define by how comfortable I am with farting around someone to be honest!) .
He's a great father and I will even go further and say he's a great guy.
He's the better parent in terms of patience and the ability to think things through.

We are just too opposite.  We want different things.
But the main thing we want is our kids to be happy and ourselves as well.
Our kids are the main priority currently and the transition of things has been noticed by the kids within the last few months.

First of all, this was not an easy decision.  PIC and I had been together for 10 years (2016) before I decided I would be filing.
We had been through a lot - moving from one country to another, having separated temporarily for a couple of months prior to moving to Finland and so on.

It's something that I was going to write about a year ago, after careful consideration and thought for a few months last year.  PIC requested I didn't say anything publicly until it was official.

While it takes 6-months to accept and be fully processed in Finland - I feel it's safe now to post this.

I do not want to glorify divorce.  I don't have an opinion on those divorcing, fighting through to save their marriage or whatever their situation may be.  Their situation is their own thing and for us - we are doing our thing.
We tried therapy several times, we tried to patch things up - but it all boiled down to the same things that set us apart and eventually we couldn't take it anymore.
Or I guess I couldn't - since I am the one filing.

I will not have a celebratory party like some people do - nor, will we do a divorce selfie (apparently this is the latest trend??).
Although, I totally get those that trash their dress when in the situation where they escaped a really negative and hurtful marriage!

We didn't tell many people about the divorce because we didn't want people to feel bad for us.  We wanted to keep a strong, united front for the kids (and dogs) and also, financially - it was just smarter.

We continued to live together contently and our kids never noticed that Mommy and Daddy didn't hug or kiss.  They're young and forgetful and it worked in our favour.
We still hung out and watched movies when the kids went to sleep.  We still took the kids to places together - we just simply didn't wear our wedding bands and nobody said anything.
In all fairness, he rarely wore his anyway due to Crohn's affecting his weight and him not wanting to lose his ring.
When I started cooking school - I wasn't allowed wearing it during kitchen hours - so just left it at home.

But recently, things have changed and I moved out.

So I decided I would take advantage of all these students moving out nearby and rent a tiny student flat for the summer.
I tried to bring the dogs with me - while it had enough space - Milo couldn't handle it.  I truly believe he had a panic attack of grand proportions and because I only will have this flat for now until August - it doesn't make sense to condition and teach him it's a safe space - only to start all over again in 2.5 months.

For me, moving to a tiny TINY flat - forces me to get rid of my crap.  I had so many things in the bedroom that I was embarrassed.
I found gym clothes I didn't even know I had - and hadn't worn in years (or ever).
I dug out four 150L bags of garbage from the bedroom.  I hadn't even gone under the bed yet!
That is sad.

For me, it is like hitting rock bottom with my second-hand shopping obsession and craft supplies etc.

So, I'm cleaning out this summer.  That's my summer holidays with the kids.
I'm splitting a table at the second-hand shop and only posting stuff there I KNOW will sell!

So! How have the kids been handling it?
V-Man probably hasn't noticed much.

You see, I have been going to the gym at night time once the kids are settled in bed around 7-8pm anyway.  So they never see me at night typically and now that I've moved out - I leave about the same time and come back for the dogs then drop them off before heading home again.

A-Man noticed that I had packed DVDs and was asking why I did it.  I told him I was cleaning up.
Of course everything I packed didn't and couldn't come with me.  But I wanted to plan for August, where I planned to move then anyhow.

Here's a conversation we had:

"Mommy why you have a new place?"
"Because Mommy and Daddy fight a lot and we are not happy.  But we love you, M-Girl and V-Man and the doggies very much!"
"Well, I'm going to fight with Daddy!"
"No.  Daddy is super nice and you need to be nice to Daddy and listen.  No fighting."
"Well, if you get a new home - then we don't have a Mommy."

*Cue tears.
I then had to explain that he'll always have us as parents and that we aren't replacing anyone or anything like that.
We did try our best to not fight in front of the kids after our first major fight a year ago and A-Man boldly told us to go in different rooms on time out and then after we had to apologize and hug/kiss each other to say sorry.
Thankfully, we never fought much to begin with!

M-Girl has been a bit up and down with me having my own space - even though I'm a 15-minutes walk from door to door - but of course, being the youngest - she's a little confused.

So as it stands right now - we will continue to co-parent the best way we can and eventually when I can get a larger flat and preferably closer to V-Man's school so there's less stress about the taxi - then we can attempt some bi-weekly arrangement so we both get equal free-time.

And that's pretty much it!
It's been an interesting journey and writing this all out has been incredibly therapeutic for me.

So I thank you for reading and following and tolerating my poky self when it comes to posting here!