Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Post Ramadan Indulgence and Inspiration....

Since Ramadan is over I am entitled of course to not fast. Yesterday I did, because I have several make up days to do having been sick a few times this year, but today I just did NOT feel up to it. I think I need to re-energize myself. So right now, I am sitting at the computer desk, with a cup of tea, and a lunch of eggs, sausage, feta cheese and 2 olives. SOOOO fatty, but sooooo good. Maybe I'll gain back all the weight I lost but right now at this moment I DON'T care.
And I am spending the day reading a blog by Dave Hingsburger. He is an advocate for people with disabilities. He has written several books on the topic, and speaks at conferences, often as the keynote speaker. I had never heard of him before I discovered his blog (Called Rolling around in my Head). He has posted pretty much every day since October 2006. I've gone back to that beginning and started reading and am now up to January 2007. Some of his posts make me laugh, some of them bring out tears of empathy or joy, and to be honest one or two of them have annoyed me just a little. But the majority just inspire me to be a better human being and to try harder to connect with other human beings in the world around me. So sitting here is my indulgence and reading Dave is my inspiration. I will probably even be stuck here until 3 when I have to get ready to go get Mehmed. Until then, I will be sipping my tea with Dave....

Monday, September 21, 2009


So many things I want to do these days.... I want to detoxify my house, my body, my spirit, my parenting skills, the list goes on....

I want to detoxify my house starting with the bathroom that has those overflowing, disorganized cupboards. I actually emptied out the middle ones into one of those big plastic storage tubs that I bought at Wal-Mart. Of course I did that about 2 or 3 weeks ago. The truth is I've had more than enough time to work on it. Nevermind all the other changes I need to make time for in the house, I feel like I can get to that stuff if I can just cross item #1 off my "To Do in the House" list - i.e. the Bathroom.
I want to detoxify my body too. I think the recently completed Ramadan Fasting does help a little with that. But there's a difference between Ramadan fasting and Body-cleansing fasting. Body cleansing fasts involve eating practically nothing at all but organic fruits & vegetables and/or their juices along with whatever herbal detox products might contribute to that. I know that I want to do some healthy things for my body but I find that by sunset I'm too tired to plan a truly healthy meal (well most days anyways - once in a while I actually do get inspired). But I did manage to lose a little bit of weight (not too much, which is the "healthy" way to lose, so they say). I was drinking tons of water at night and before dawn since you can't drink anything during the day. Ironically, I'm sure that I actually drink more water when I'm fasting and deprived of water during the daylight hours. Plus, since I couldn't eat or drink anything during the day, I haven't been drinking coffee, which I have figured out does not agree terribly with my body.
I think that the Ramadan fast does help with cleansing my spirit too, but of course it does also help if I avoid that toxic spirit drainer otherwise known as TV. How is it that my personal resolve is strong enough to abandon eating and drinking for 14 hours straight every day for a month, but I can't seem to abandon watching that stupid mind-numbing box?
But the most important detox is the one cleaning up my parenting skills. Although I think I have improved for the most part in that category. My temper boiled a lot during our 2 months in Turkey and I felt like my hands were tied most of the time from disciplining Mehmed. He'd hit another kid, and I'd place him in timeout, or take him away from the park, and I would constantly feel berated from people for trying to discipline my son. And I wasn't even yelling at him, just timeouts and lectures and stuff.... but "he's just a child", they'd say, "he'll outgrow this." So I should just allow him to continue pressing escalator buttons, kicking other kids, hitting them, spitting on people, and let it all to go unpunished just because he's a child and he "might" outgrow it? Arg. Talk about frustrating. And even they all had to admit that he was an unusually angry child. What was almost as frustrating was that people couldn't see why he was getting angry. They'd see him freak out, having a major tantrum, screaming at me, but they couldn't understand our English well enough to realize that he was freaking out because I hadn't placed his plate just right on the table, or I hadn't phrase my words in the exact order he wanted me to say them. Really odd things that children do not normally get angry about.
Anyways, when we first got back in August I think my pent up repressed emotions spilled over because I spent 3 weeks allowing myself to yell at him CONSTANTLY. It's one thing to try to deal patiently with a kid all day and then raising your voice a few times during the course of a particularly uncooperative day, but constant anger and yelling? In the end I got really mad at myself and resolved to change things. So for the last month I have been really careful not to raise my voice and to take better time discussing things with him. It's hard sometimes, particularly when he gets extraordinarily rude, like rolling his eyes at my lectures and saying "ya ya ya", making faces at me, demanding something without so much as a please or a thankyou, even though I've ingrained that in him since he could first squeak out a syllable, or when he freaks out at me because I didn't phrase a question exactly the way he's envisioned it being asked in his head.
But I am actually happy because I feel like I've been doing all right with this. Not to pat myself on the back, I am definately far from perfect, but I am proud of myself for not freaking out at him over the day to day problems. The problems that I will either forget about in 10 years, or at least be able to look back at them and laugh, or at the very least I will be grateful that these stages are over.
But I still want to detoxify my parenting even more. No matter how much you might improve, the roller coaster doesn't stop and I know that I could hit a bump in the road that wears down my resolve and gets me yelling at him instead of lovingly parenting him. While he starts Dinosaur school next Wednesday, parents don't attend with their child so Kinark offers a Parenting class alongside it - mine starts this Wednesday. I was offered a choice between Triple P, which I've already done, and this one that I'm taking. I think it's called the Incredible Years (or maybe the Wonderful Years). All I know for sure is that the title is wonderful and makes me think that it will help me to appreciate these years that I know I will never get back. So, while I may screw up sometimes, like those few weeks in August, and I am ashamed to say a good portion of his JK year (the year of hell until May, when I finally pulled him out of school, for which he was just NOT ready), I am hoping that I can learn to appreciate these Incredible Years 99% of the time.... That to me is the most important detox of all.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Turkey Trip 2009, A collage of pics...

The video is kind of "cropped" so if you want to watch it in higher quality, just click on the video after it starts to play, it should pop up a new window directly to the Youtube vid, which you can also choose to play in HQ.... This one's only a bit over 3 minutes so not too torturous...

Mehmed's back at school :)

Mehmed started grade 1 last Monday! Woohooo! You should see my happy dance ;). He goes to school EVERY DAY. The only disadvantage to this of course is that I now have to make lunches every day so I no longer have the luxury of the occasional sleep-in day... Oh well, I guess that's why people love weekends. Oh, and in the first week of school, I've only gotten 1 phone call from the office (on day 2).
But I have DEFINATELY changed in the last two years. Two years ago I would have been devestated and beat myself up over it ('I'm such a bad parent, I can't make my kid stop hurting others'), and I would have yelled at Mehmed over it way too much. Poor little guy.
So I'm very happy that there was no freaking out this time. Just a terse lecture (he is only 6 after all, I can't hold his attention for very long). I know he knows better, but I also know that he really has trouble stopping himself. I'm just hoping that being deprived of TV, Computer and DVDs for 5 days will help him to remember that he needs to control himself... This is the first week back after a LONG break away from that kind of overstimulation and I'm hoping it doesn't take too long for him to get back into the habit of halting himself before it happens.... I've resurrected our morning mantra of "I'll use my words first and if they don't work I'll ask a teacher".
But honestly, I don't know what these phone calls do to stop his behaviour. How much more do they want me to do from home? Send him in with handcuffs? Make him wear a mini-cam that has 2-way voice control so I can prompt him when I see he's starting to escalate? Arg.
So on that 2nd day, when the principal had me on the phone, I simply asked her if she was familiar with his file. I pointed out that this is a recurring weakness for him, particularly during times of sensory over-stimulation such as recess & gym & that's precisely WHY he was recommended to have an EA at school and I promptly told her that I think the school should get right on top of that... *BIG GRIN* Suddenly I feel so grown up. :)
Anyways, his teacher's name is Ms. Maxwell, and so far I've only heard awesome things about her.... And he survived "move day" without getting taken out of her class so it looks like she's stuck with him :). I met her yesterday and was really happy with the accomodations they're making to help him. He's supposed to get taken in on the first bell after recesses because he doesn't deal well with the chaos of the line. The noises upset him greatly and he often winds up acting out as a result, hence the changes to when he goes in. And for the dressing & undressing, he has a little space off to the side away from the other kids. He can also go there if he starts to get upset about something. Ms. Maxwell said she was impressed that he is agreeable to moving away from the group when he does start to get upset, as opposed to running away down the hall or hiding under a desk as some of the other kids do. She was also impressed with the fact that he's used to the after-recess exercise routines and how it really does make a difference in calming him down. Anyways, she was very sweet, I liked her a lot and I have a very good feeling that this will be a good year for him. My biggest worry right now is recess time because that is when he is the most over-stimulated and most likely to act out, but it is also the time when he is the least supervised.

He'll be starting "Dinosaur School" in a couple of weeks, a weekly evening program provided through Kinark family services which is supposed to help teach the kids about acceptable social behaviours and how to recognize feelings in others & to respond appropriately to that (i.e. to not laugh when somebody else is clearly upset, or to stop certain behaviours when it is apparent that they are annoying the other kids). Hope it goes well. Anyways, that's all for now....

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lazy Summer, West Nile (?), Fasting and a few Photos...

Man! I can't believe we've been back for over a month. I haven't done ANYTHING. Lazy lazy. I think I was burned out from all that travelling... and now I'm fasting (It's Ramadan) so most days I'm too tired to get anything really done after about 1pm.

Plus I am not 100% sure but I think I actually might have had a bout with West Nile at the beginning of Ramadan. I got this weird, unbelievably horrible headache (the worst I've ever had), had a fever, chills & shivering, and then this headache lasted for 12 days. My eyes became incredibly photosensitive. I know it wasn't a blood sugar or fasting thing because I still had the headache & fatigue on days that I could not fast on account of being sick (we are excused from fasting when sick).
Given how long the "headache" lasted, the photosensitivity, plus the fact that during the 2 previous weeks I had practically done nothing/gone nowhere that I could have picked up a virus, AND was bitten by a mosquito about 10 days before.... I arrived at the conclusion that it was probably West Nile. Which sounds horrible, but I read up on it - most people who contract the virus actually show no symptoms at all, and then about 20% or so actually get West Nile Fever and the symptoms include fever & headache. Only in the rarest of cases does West Nile actually progress to encephalitis or more complicated infections to nerves that it could cause death. But ya, I can't prove it but I'm fairly convinced that it was West Nile. Oh, and nobody else in my family came down with similar symptoms, in spite of all the germ-sharing we do around here. So my theory is West Nile and I'm sticking to it.

And poor mom has a pinched nerve, which is really causing her a lot of pain. She can't do much of anything except stick around the apartment, ice her back all day & take lots of drugs. Not much fun. Yesterday she kept me company though, went all the way to the city with me for an ultrasound even though she didn't have to, and today we went to see Dr. Mark again in Newmarket. I don't think the driving is much fun since she probably doesn't get the comfort she needs to relax the muscles around the nerve. Lots of chiropractic & massage & 2 weeks later she's still in lots of pain. Hope it passes soon because I know she's really frustrated.

So, in my laziness for the past month, I haven't posted any pics from Turkey. My bad. So, better late than never, here are a few choice ones, with a little history to boot....

From our boat tour of the Bosphorus (the Strait that separates the European side of Istanbul from the Asian side), below is a pic of the bridge as it reaches European side, and the "Rumali Hisari" or "Roman Fort" - where the Ottomans built a fort on the Roman/European side, which already had a counterpart (the Anatolian Fort) on the opposite shore. They used chains stretched from one fort to the other to restrict boat traffic, thereby gaining control of the Straight, and ensuring victory when they captured the city of Constantinople in 1453.... This fort was commissioned in 1451 by Fatih Sultan Mehmed Han (Mehmed Han the Conqueror King) - for whom our little Mehmed Han takes his name.... hmmm I wonder then if that could be why our little man is such a bully?

Orhan also went out on his own one day in Istanbul when Mehmed and I were both sick. Poor little guy was throwing up and had diarrhea all day - it was probably hard for his little body to get used to the change in air and food - all kinds of foreign germs that he's never been exposed to before, so I would say it took a few weeks before his body got accustomed to the changes... Anyways, while we were busy sleeping it off, Orhan toured the Topkapi Palace, the palace of the Sultans from 1465 to 1853.

Here is one of the buildings overlooking the Bosphorus:

Here is a beautiful view from it's marble terrace (seen in the distance in the above picture, and part of it's view below)....
Here are some more of the buildings and courtyards:

This is one of the interior rooms - I believe it is in the living quarters section, this is like a large Ottoman Style lounge. Notice the stained glass windows...

Some birds enjoying a bath in one of the (many) marble fountains :)
And of course, what palace is complete without a marble toilet?

Like I said before, they have so much marble in Turkey they just don't know what to do with it all...