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Let’s Talk about ADHD and Motherhood. Why I’m Not JUST a Hot Mess.

hiding out with some chocolate in the laundry room… just escaping the “overwhelm”

So today is Bell’s Let’s Talk Day – a day where people can be open and honest about their mental health struggles – which really SHOULD be every day but it’s another positive step towards the ending of mental health stigmas and the stigmas surrounding invisible illnesses.

I’m so proud to see friends of mine and people I follow stepping up and being real about the struggles they face and are facing.

I have my own struggles I’ve been trying to figure out for over the past year or so. I’m still figuring it all out. But let me rewind for a moment. Back in high school I was diagnosed with ADHD after extensive meetings with a doctor.

Wait, what?
But I’m not hyper. I’m not a 6 year old boy. I’m not a class clown.

No. You’re right. I was, however, a daydreamer. A procrastinator, a “Forgetful Jones” as my family called me from basically as far back as I can remember. I was flakey and lost things I was supposed to be responsible for. But – I also got basically straight A’s, was always afraid of getting in trouble, a “goody-goody” – definitely not disruptive or a troublemaker.

These stereotypes – and really, some of the stigmas – are why many girls are not diagnosed as frequently as boys. They simply don’t call as much attention to themselves in a lot of ways.

Back when I was diagnosed they still referred to ADHD as both that and ADD – which was the “inattentive” variety, not hyper. Now they actually refer to the entire thing as ADHD which can be broken into 3 types – Hyperactive, Inattentive, or Combination.

I was put on medication for a short time and through it I actually learned what it felt like to be able to focus wholly on one task that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the interest to. See, the name ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – is a little misleading. It’s not always a DEFICIT of attention, or lack of attention. Honestly it can be a surplus of attention – the ability to “hyperfocus” is a superpower those with ADHD are actually blessed with. But there’s a catch to our superpower – it’s only with things we really want to focus on, or have interest in. If we don’t really want to do that thing it’s nearly physically impossible to get focused on it.
So anyways, fast forward a good 10 … ok fine 15+ years later, and here I am, a Mama of 3 beautiful children. They are joy in my life. But I’m a gigantic hot mess. And I start recognizing some behaviours in my kids that I’ve seen in myself in the past. At this point, I felt like I have “grown out of my ADHD” because that was just “a kid thing” and now I am a grown up and don’t deal with that. Except…

Maybe I do?

I’ve been doing a ton of reading this past year and realized that no, ADHD is not something that is “grown out of” … it’s literally the way my brain is wired. Yes – being a mom can result in becoming a hot mess in an otherwise normal* woman. But it can also exacerbate the symptoms. Lack of sleep? Makes it worse. Stress? Makes it worse. ADHD can be the root cause of anxiety and depression. And you know what? Women (especially adults) are WAY more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety and depression rather than the root cause of ADHD.
*I like the saying “normal is a setting on a laundry machine”… there is no “normal” but you know what I mean here*

So here I am a year into this, trying to figure myself out. Afraid to say anything because while we’re making strides to end the stigmas on many many mental health issues, I still hear and read things like “ADHD is made up” and “ADHD is just an excuse for bad parenting” – not to mention all the “SQUIRREL!” jokes and ADHD jokes that get thrown around as though there is no one at the butt end of them. People still think of ADHD as something an elementary school boy has. Just recently a mama in a facebook group I am in got a nasty noise complaint letter telling her to put her children on ritalin because they were too noisy for them in their condo. So that stigma is still very much real.

But I’m going to add my tiny voice to the few speaking up to say I’m here, “This is Me” (thank you Greatest Showman!) and I may be a hot mess but it’s ok to be. I know for sure I’m not alone in this.

*** If you want to watch an AMAZING Ted Talk on this topic given by a woman with ADHD please please watch this one – it’s amazing and really explains so much of this topic.

Another super helpful website I’ve been reading is https://www.additudemag.com

Welcoming Christmas

Yes.
I just said Welcoming Christmas.
On November 14.
When I was a kid we celebrated both Canadian and US Thanksgiving, I’m a dual citizen and my dad grew up in the US so we just always did both. And traditionally, US Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season – so we followed that and put up our decorations and fake tree the last weekend in November. And everyone in Canada said WE WERE SO EARLY. “Not until December 1st!!” people would say.
NOW?
The clock strikes midnight on Halloween, and the page turns over into November and suddenly we’re all “GIMME MY EGGNOG LATTES!” and out comes the decor.
I mean, I’m not complaining. It’s my favourite time of year! I will definitely get my Christmas beverage from Starbucks when they are available, and bust out the Christmas playlist but in our family we usually wait until after Remembrance Day. And this year, our first Christmas event was literally the day after! I took my daughter to the Moscow Ballet’s Nutcracker performance at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver.
This was a bucket list thing for me. Not only to see such an impressive ballet, and one I’ve ALWAYS wanted to see live, but to take my little girl, who is starting to adore dance, and watch it together. We got all “fancy” and dressed up and went with our good friends Jenny and Isla for a girl’s night on the town.
I am sure I’ll sound ridiculously sappy when I say that I was grinning from ear to ear and actually teared up several times during the event just simply because it was happening. I would look over at Livvie, who was perched on the end of her seat, captivated by the dancers. She would look excitedly over at me when she recognized a song that she’d heard before, or to say “the ballerinas are on their TIPPY toes!!”, or just to comment on how beautiful the costumes were. It was magical.
The performers were absolutely incredible and the strength and power they demonstrated was astounding. There were children in the performance – Livvie was quite impressed with that – and when I looked up the company, I read about a program called “Dance With Us” that actually gives local dance students from each city the show is performed in the opportunity to dance alongside the professional ballerinas and danseurs in the ballet company. They go through the auditioning process and rehearsals leading up to the show and then get to perform on stage. WOW! What an amazing experience for those littles!
So, I am not in a position to critique or really “review” this performance as I have nothing to compare it to (yet!) but I will say, I left that theatre on cloud 9, absolutely thrilled to have experienced it and I am positive it won’t be our last time seeing this show!
Now. On to tidying up my house to get ready to pull out those decorations. I’m ready!

Berry Beat Festival – My debut into the market world!

Well, the lead up was stressful but I did it! Or, I should say “we did it!” because I had some amazing help along the way. It pulled together and I was so proud of how it turned out, I had to share!

The view from outside my booth – with my Mama there to help me! 
Loved this letterboard from Letter Peddler – a Canadian letterboard company

You’ll see little critters my mom made – her little company is called Tunbridge Knits, and I will be carrying these adorable hand knit stuffed friends in my shop. They were a crowd favourite, people couldn’t stop talking about their detail and quality.

Shoutout to my amazing hubby who built my peg board wall for me. We were a little worried as we built it, the plywood was VERY splintery (so we may need an upgrade at some point) but it worked out in the end! I love that I can change the layout as I need! 
Samples on the table of my work! 
These were favourites too – the memory match games! Images were placed onto the wood and the outlines wood burned to finish. 
More cute little friends. My chair was tucked into the back corner there which seemed to work out great! And we were in a great spot that didn’t get too hot, especially on such a hot day like we had! 
Another favourite – Storytellers! These were scooped up by a few teachers actually, which made me feel pretty good! They encourage imagination by creating a story sequence based on whatever image is pulled from the bag! 
The Camping/Outdoor themed Storytellers! 
More setup shots.
I love this little mouse. I scooped up some of our wooden blocks that are decorating Silas’ room and waiting for him to be big enough to play with them! They made such a great little addition to the decor here! 

All in all it was a great experience. Since it was a 12 hour day I was absolutely EXHAUSTED by the end of it, and probably will feel the effects of it all week because I am not used to that much social interaction!! But I feel like I made some great connections, met some amazing people, and learned a little bit about prepping and running a booth at a market. It was a great debut, and I can’t wait to set this up again soon! (July 29/30 – mark your calendars!!)

HUGE THANK YOU again to my mom for bringing me last minute things I needed, bringing me lunch, and hanging out with me, to Erin for bringing me cold root beer treats and picking up our dinner and hanging out with me at my booth! To Bethany for watching my littles while I did some last minute running around the day before! To my hubby for the pegboard, the set up/tear down help, and support and encouragement of my little dreams. And to anyone who came, bought, or even just stopped by my booth to say hello, your support and encouragement means the world to me.

Introducing…

Ok so here’s what I’ve been working on!
I’m so excited about these!
As most of you know, I worked as an Early Childhood Educator since 2004. I have always loved working with children, so this was a logical place for me to end up. (I was originally aiming to be an elementary school teacher but found out ECE didn’t ladder into that degree, and, well, life happened. Maybe someday I’ll go back.) I’ve learned through my years about various teaching philosophies, some of which are pretty mainstream now, but others a little bit less so. Montessori has become really popular and I really like some of the activities that are presented within that curriculum. And I am also drawn to the nature-based, organic feel to Waldorf philosophies, and the child-led philosophy of Reggio based learning.
Back when my twins were little I had so much fun creating “invitations to play” for them – essentially these are fairly open-ended activities set out for the child to engage in. People used to comment about these, asking “how do you find time to do this?” and honestly, I was in such survival mode with twins that preparing these activities for them would actually result in a few minutes to myself while they were playing – which was 100% worth the effort!! Hot coffee, anyone? Hello!

Anyways, fast forward to today. I have a little guy who I want to offer similar experiences to as he grows. And I have two 5 year olds that I would like to help guide through their learning experiences as well. I love being crafty, and would love to create a little business using my strengths and passions. And I’m human, I lean upon screens to entertain my kiddos just as much as the next person, but if I can find a few ways to turn their attention away from screens now and then, I’ll jump at that chance.

So some words of inspiration that were floating around my head as I was brainstorming?

Organic

Eco-friendly

Natural

Handmade

Fun!

So. Busy bags! I did NOT invent these, clearly. They are all over Pinterest. But how many of you pin things with every intention of actually executing that pin, but forget to do so? Or just don’t want to, despite how cute/awesome that pin is? I can pretty much say that’s a vast majority of my pins! These bags are for Mamas (and Daddies… Grammas… Grampas!) with littles that want options. When you’re waiting at a doctor’s office, when you’re nursing a younger sibling, when you’re waiting for food at a restaurant, when they need to play quietly while you are at church! So many times I wish I’d had something like this in my purse to pull out but instead I grabbed what I had on me – my phone! These bags fit easily into a diaper bag to come along for the ride.

I’m actually a little nervous presenting these, but also really excited. Trying to put all my self-doubt aside and do what I love. So here’s the “starting lineup” if you will of Feather+Fern busy bags!


Buckle Blankies – Because what toddler isn’t obsessed with clipping buckles?


Felt tree


Alphabet Clips


Shapes Memory Match


Color Match Pockets


Felt Button Chain


Kindergarten Sight Words Match Up


Felt Car Track


Some facts about these:
*I handmade the bags myself from 100% linen
*The colored popsicle sticks are dyed with food and spices myself
*The alphabet on the wood clips is wood-burned by yours truly.
*Some of the felt activities are made with 100% wool felt imported from the Netherlands to my favourite wool/yarn store in Abbotsford, Birkeland Bros. Wool
*The activities requiring more felt (because the 100% wool felt is quite expensive) is an eco-friendly felt created out of recycled plastic bottles.
*Because these are handmade by myself, I like to say they are “perfectly imperfect” and some details may vary from set to set
*I have way too many ideas for more of these, but these are the ones I’m starting with!

So, there it is! And here we are. On the edge of something brand new, a little scary, ready to jump in with everything I have!
Drop a comment, let me know what you think!

What’s Next?

So I’ve been trying to figure out how to write my thoughts on this one. I’ve been so inspired this year to pursue some sort of side business using my creative abilities. Handmade items are becoming more and more valued right now and since I have always been a “crafty” kind of person I thought maybe this would be a viable option for me. I’m still undecided as to what I’m doing at the end of maternity leave – I spent the first 3 years at home with my twins but that was more because it was going to cost more to put them in daycare than to keep them at home. I did very part-time photography until they were 3 and I went back into Early Childhood Education working at a Montessori daycare in town. Then I moved into a position at my church working in Children’s Ministry. I have ALWAYS loved working with kids. From the minute I was allowed to babysit I was on it. Then I spent about a decade or so working with kids from 2 months to 5 years old, and while not the most glamorous job it was pretty rewarding. You really start to love those kids. My loftiest, biggest dream has always been to open my own daycare/preschool. Something with a ton of natural elements, somehow blending pieces of Reggio, Waldorf, and Montessori philosophies. I could go on for hours about my ideas for that. But that requires so much initial cost and I just don’t know how to make that happen from where I am now. Maybe one day. So what do I do? There is a part of me that feels guilty returning to work when Silas isn’t even a year old, when I didn’t do that with the older two. I assume these are common feelings? So much to think about…

So, back to the crafty stuff. Before I had my own kids I made jewelry so I immediately went back to that idea. I am a girly girl at heart and love me some sparkly things. I love making pretties.
But am I passionate about it?

Hm.

I’m really not sure! I do LOVE making jewelry.

But recently I had an idea. And that idea sparked more ideas. And those ideas made me excited for more ideas. I had one night where I couldn’t stop thinking about how to make this happen.

So I’ve been spending the last couple weeks or so coming up with a plan, and creating some prototypes of where I think I am going to be heading with Feather+Fern in the coming months. And I’m really excited about it. I am really hoping you will be as excited as I am too!

Everyone loves a mystery 😉 More to come soon, stay tuned