Monday, November 30, 2009

The Art Of Procrastination

Oh, it IS an art form.

For example, right now, I *should* be working on homework, starting on a client project, sorting laundry, emptying out the dishwasher, INVOICING (shudder)... Instead, I am blogging about NOTHING. And trying to decide which recipe to make for our holiday baking exchange. And researching where to print our holiday card. And drinking leftover apple cider.

And feeling incredibly guilty about all the things I'm NOT doing. Today is one of those days when it sucks to be a grown-up. I would love to just lie in bed with a book today. Doesn't that sound lovely?

Okay, okay. I'm going to work now.


Monday Secret


Saturday, November 28, 2009


We're in the market for a new stroller for Briony. We're in love with the one we already have, but would like a second option - something smaller and more compact for running into the mall, travelling, etc. I think we found it today, at the grand opening of the new Lux for Sprouts location... I'm super excited. It's a sexy little stroller. Don't underestimate the importance of pretty baby stuff. I'm not very cool anymore, it's all I've got :)

Why did God give us gallbladders? Seriously. They barely serve a purpose and mine is THE THORN IN MY FLESH right now. I'm still waiting for a surgery date, and now it's sounding like it will be in the new year. In the meantime, I feel like utter crap every time I eat something. Dinner tonight - for the third night in a row - is looking like crackers. YUM. And even those will make me want to hurl. If I wanted to deal with this nonsense, I'd just get pregnant again.

Briony's been a maniac on her little toy cell phone this week. NOTE: I'm totally against toy cell phones for babies, but she got it as a gift (argh). She'll make it ring and then open it, say 'HI!' and then jabber away for the longest time. She drags it around with her everywhere. Those are some seriously long conversations. And every once in a while, the phone is apparently for me. She'll answer it, say a few words, and then hand it over so that I can talk on it. It's the weirdest thing I've ever seen, but incredibly cute. Once morning a few weeks ago, she was lounging in bed beside me and talking on her cell phone with one hand while drinking her bottle with the other. I looked over at Geoff like CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS KID when he gently pointed out that I was in bed beside her drinking Starbucks while checking email on my Blackberry. Okay. Point taken.

I'm totally wrapping some presents tonight. I saw at least ten snowflakes today, so it's time.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Smile

It's been an effort to find 'smiles' in everyday life this week, but I'm determined to find some today as I recap the week that was and look forward to the weekend.

1. I'm grateful for this amazing weather. It sounds so cliche, but November has been incredible - still no snow to speak of, and lots of bonus opportunities to go for walks as a family and just enjoy being outside before the inevitable Manitoba winter kicks in.

2. It was a tough week with both Geoff and I working, but Katie was available to come and help an extra day. That makes all the difference in the world to me, and we're lucky to have it as an option.

3. Last weekend was amazing. It was so fun to have so many friends and family members stop by to wish our little princess a happy birthday and celebrate with us.

4. For some completely inexplicable reason, this week - which I'd completely written off and was feeling really down on myself about - was a good weight loss week. I lost two pounds, putting me about 2/3 of the way to my goal with a month to go.

5. This Sunday is our annual Pilgrim Potluck - basically, a bunch of friends all come together at our house and celebrate American Thanksgiving together (combined with Grey Cup again this year). Looking forward to amazing food and a house full of friends. It really doesn't get any better than that. (And there goes my two pound weight loss, hehe.)

6. I made it to yoga today for the first time in a couple of weeks. I hate that it doesn't always work in our schedule, but I'm grateful that it did today. After a good yoga class, I'm in a healthy place - especially psychologically, because it fills me with respect for my body and what it can do. It allows me to let go of the feelings that cause me to focus on everything I CAN'T do with a broken body and realize that - deep down - I'm still strong.

7. Briony, as always, is the bright spot in everything. She's been particularly funny this week, making up new little games to play with us and then giggling until she literally falls over and is just lying on the floor in hysterics. She's mastered the stairs. She's starting to answer 'yes' and 'no' to some questions. And she's starting to take 10 or 15 steps at a time behind her little walking toy. I am *so* proud of her.

8. I have a fabulous new logo for my freelance business in progress, with business cards and a functional website following soon. It's so exciting to see it all start to come together :)

9. I have a huge school project due on Sunday, and then I'm pretty close to finished this course. One left in April, and then by the end of July I'll be FINISHED and scheduled to graduate in Victoria in November. No idea if we'll actually make an appearance at the convocation or not - I didn't even go to my grad from the University of Winnipeg - but it sounds like a bunch of my online classmates might be planning to attend and then have a big graduation party for ourselves. I hope it happens, because it would be so great to meet the people I've been going to school with.

10. It's less than a month until Christmas! And around three weeks until Aaron + Cait come home for a visit. I think I might wrap some presents tonight...

I have a little bit of homework planned for tonight, and then I fully intend to just RELAX. It's been an intense week, and although I still have a massive to-do list left, I think that I need to pause and take care of Lindsay for a couple of hours. Wish me luck :)

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Family First Aid

I've booked a Family First Aid course at my house for Saturday, January 9 from 10 am to 12 noon. It's a two hour session taught by a registered nurse / Red Cross first aid instructor and will cover:
- Choking
- "Does it need stitches?"
- Allergies and Anaphylaxis
- Poisons
- Fever
- Seizures
- "What medical advice to believe on the internet"

Participants will receive handouts, an emergency fridge magnet, and hands-on practice with CPR dolls, asthma puffers, and EpiPens.

The cost will be $20/person, and I need a minimum of four other parents (or grandparents, or babysitters, or anyone else who'd just like to feel a little safer when caring for little ones).

Let me know if you're interested!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Sooner You Learn It

As a child, I learned not to complain about things not being fair. Why? Because anytime that any one of us would utter that particular f-word in our house, my parents would automatically begin their (annoying) recitation: Life isn't fair. And the sooner you learn it, the better off you'll be.

Fast forward, oh, around three decades or so. Turns out they were right.

How annoying.

This week, I'm fighting the 'no fairs' hardcore. See, Geoff is working pretty much every day this week (and 'work' for him means incredibly long days - he didn't get to see B at all today, which totally breaks my heart). The thing is, I'm working too. Or trying to. I have a pile of client deadlines + my major project for the course I've been taking due this weekend. But I'm still responsible to watch B while he's at work, to make dinner, to keep the house quasi-presentable... And then during nap times or once B is in bed, I'm putting in more than full time hours on my *real* work (or is it the other way around?).

It is really freaking unfair. But I'm also totally aware that it falls into that life category of GET OVER IT. This is just our life right now. And it's really not *that* bad. (Ask me again when my alarm goes tomorrow morning.)

THANK GOD for Katie this week. I was able to spend a lot of the last two days working on non-domestic stuff. Without that, I would have been sunk. Or at least more sleep deprived than I already am... And as it is, last night was totally one of those nights where I fell asleep with my laptop on the couch at some point waaaay beyond midnight. Blech. The only thing worse than those nights are the mornings when you wake up on the couch with your laptop.

Anyway. I'm calling it a night. I'm too tired to be productive anymore, and wise enough to identify that I'd only be wasting my time and frustrating myself if I tried to keep on going. HOORAY for a new day tomorrow. I'm taking part of the morning off to go hang out at my Moms Group. Productive? Not really. But important.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Book Recommendations

It's clear that we're embarking on a new adventure here... I'm curious to know - from parents who've been here before - which books you found especially useful at this stage.

Note: We already have The Bible (aka What To Expect The Toddler Years).

And I'm looking at The Happiest Toddler On The Block, just because I really liked the baby version of that one. Has anyone had any experience - good or bad - with the toddler one?

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Where's The Beef?

Will someone PLEASE tell me what they've done to my baby Briony? Seriously. It is ridiculous how much this girl has grown up in the last couple of weeks.

This week's most recent example:

I'm not allowed to feed her anymore. She'll take a few spoons full of whatever I'm offering - cereal, yogurt, fruit puree, whatever - and then she's seriously done. Like clamping her lips together or removing what's in her mouth via fingers or tongue. Awesome. So we're instantly scrambling to come up with a menu of finger foods - because she will HAPPILY feed herself.

Um, what's up with that?

Oh, and apparently, we like beef. Like realllly like beef. What? May I remind you that you - dear Briony - dislike all meat in all its forms?

It's getting kind of hard to keep up. And I'm extra motivated to TRY to keep up because we found out at her twelve month appointment today that she hasn't really gained any weight at all since her last appointment in August. Her height's holding steady at the 90th percentile, but we've dropped from around 90 to around 50 in weight. Again, WHAT? She's been eating like a champ until this past week. I'm assured that it's nothing to worry about - and I know about the one-year plateau and increased calorie burning now that she's a monkey and all of that - but she's picked a heck of a time to decide to get picky with her food. Doesn't she know she has a Type A mama? I'm fighting temptation to sneak into her room while she's napping and jam food inside her cheeks in an attempt to get her back up at the top of those stupid little graphs - and then give myself a gold star.

So that's what's going on here. And now I must go chop stuff for my daughter's dinner.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Briony (Officially) Turns One!

More to come when everyone's gotten some rest, but here's a tiny piece of photographic evidence that we had a very successful birthday party here today. THANK YOU to my amazing family and friends who not only came to help us celebrate (with tons of fabulous but completely unnecessary gifts for the birthday girl), but were also happy to pitch in and help us get ready for the main event. Briony - and all of us - are incredibly blessed.

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Very Well Meaning

I'm a little bit crazy.

BIG NEWS, I know. But what makes this statement noteworthy is that - this time, and for this particular example - I know WHY.

I'm preparing to fall into bed exhausted, knowing that my alarm is set for 07.30 so that I can get up, get myself presentable, head off to a breakfast meeting, and then enter frenzy mode in order to prepare for Briony's party. I am fully aware that these demands will render me too tired to properly enjoy said party. And you know what? I don't care. Not one iota.

No one but me will know that this party is less perfect than the one I'd planned in my head, because I realize that I am seriously the only one who cares. SHE'S ONE YEAR OLD. She doesn't know that it's her birthday. She has absolutely no expectations about tomorrow other than getting fed, playing for a while, and hopefully having a nap at some point. As for everyone else, they're coming to see HER, not to put on their snotty white gloves and inspect my housekeeping (or lack thereof). And maybe to eat cake. But we've got that one covered.

But knowing all that, I still need to put at least a little bit of effort into making it special, because here's the thing. Briony's going to grow up special - partially because she's just a cool kid, and partially because she's growing up with a sick mom. There will always be little things that she's going to miss out on because I am not a 'normal' healthy mom. I hate that, but it's the cold hard truth. And I have decided that birthday parties WILL NOT be one of those things missing from her childhood. They might not be huge and ridiculous and extravagant, but - by golly - the girl will have birthday parties. And I feel like we're setting precedent a little bit here.

A little bit crazy? Absolutely. But I cling to the fact that it's very well meaning, and completely out of love for my incredible one year old baby girl. I just want the world for her. That's not too much, is it?

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Friday, November 20, 2009


DO NOT ask me why it took so long to figure out... But I have finally identified the source of my hellish pain and sickness this week. Or rather, the SOURCES. It's now completely obvious to me that I've had a reaction to my vaccine *and* a gallbladder flare-up this week. Which really explains everything.

I feel better now, psychologically. But I still feel icky. I am, however, still totally excited for Briony's birthday party tomorrow. And what's not to be excited about? We're having a cupcake party :)

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pay No Attention To The Sick Girl

Seriously. I've been avoiding blogging so far this week because I really don't want to scare anyone.

The truth is that we went for our H1N1 shots on Tuesday morning and I've been really sick ever since. The reason I don't want you to pay any attention to that is that the health conditions I live with every single day classify me as 'immunocompromised' - and it's really no surprise that I've reacted so wickedly to this shot. The truth is that I've had equal - or possibly even worse - reactions to the regular flu shot. DO NOT BE AFRAID. Geoff, Briony, and both of my parents have also had theirs in the last week, and they are all totally okay (even my mom, whose body is still rebuilding its immune system after cancer treatments).

Far from making me scared or question the decision we made, it's made me more sure than ever that I did the right thing in rolling up my sleeve. This is my body's reaction to a small, controlled encounter with the dead H1N1 virus. Can you imagine what catching the real thing would have done to me? Scary. But again, I'm not healthy to begin with - so this shouldn't scare anyone.

But it's been a really rough week here. I think the worst of it hit me yesterday afternoon. By early evening, I was flat on the couch. It's kind of hard to describe it... I feel like I'm running a super-high fever, with all the symptoms except for a temperature. Weird, hey? And it's just head to toe PAIN. I think it's actually the pain that's causing the nausea. I am NOT a happy camper.

Geoff was scheduled to return to work today, but he called in for a family sick day to help at home. Tomorrow's actually a Katie Day too, so I'll have lots and lots of support to help me get better. And it's a good thing, because there's an adorable little girl in our house having her very first birthday party on Saturday and I will not miss this for anything. And I won't have to, thanks to friends who are willing to come and help me with almost everything to get ready.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Secret


One Whole Year

One whole year you have been ours. One whole year of cries, giggles, and every funny noise in between. One whole year of getting to know you. And I suspect we've barely scratched the surface.

I'll be honest, B. One year ago today I was pretty scared and emotional and overwhelmed. I had absolutely no idea what to do with you, how to take care of you and get you safely from a newborn to a one year old - and thinking beyond that was just way too much to consider. All of the books I had read to prepare for your arrival seemed so very inadequate. I didn't know anything at all except that I loved you. It turns out that love was all that we needed. Well, love and Starbucks... Your mommy has still not adjusted to the lack of sleep that sometimes happens when a baby moves in.

I still remember exactly what it felt like to hold you for the very first time. It was wonderful and strange. But I knew so absolutely that it was YOU. This lovely, chubby-cheeked baby with reddish blonde hair and impossibly dark eyes was our Briony. You looked nothing like I thought you would, but I knew you were ours and I knew that you were the baby who'd been kicking and wiggling up a storm as you grew inside of me. So many things you did in those first hours and days were absolutely familiar to me - your patterns, your movements, the way you kept you hands up by your face exactly like you had in all your ultrasound pictures (and the way you still sleep with a blanket or a favourite stuffed animal all cuddled up). I often wondered if it felt the same way to you, being thrust into a brand new world, but finding those little things that felt familiar to you - the sound of my heartbeat, your daddy's voice. It was those little things that helped me realize that we were going to be absolutely okay, because we would figure it out together.

It's been a crazy, wonderful year. We've had so many adventures together - you, me, and your daddy - that it's hard to pick favourites. But we've taken many, many photos and videos to capture as many of them as we possibly could.

Just last month, we dedicated you in the church where I grew up and made a promise to do the best job that we could as parents, to teach you right from wrong and to pray for you every day. As part of the dedication service, the pastor talked about each baby's name and what it meant. We knew already that the name Briony has Greek and English origins and that it's the name for a vine or a plant with little flowers. And we knew that your middle name - Evangeline - means good news, and we picked that name for you because finding out that you were on your way to our family was the best news ever at a very hard time for us. But on your dedication day, the pastor shared that the bryony plant was used for centuries as a healing plant that made sick people well again. I very nearly broke down crying in front of the entire church when he said that because we had chosen your name because we thought it was pretty - and it turns out that your 'pretty' name has a very special meaning too. It just made me more sure than ever that your name is a perfect fit.

I don't know if you will ever understand how much you have helped to heal our family - first in knowing that you were coming, and now just because of the way you are Briony. You are a wonderfully funny, friendly little girl who makes everyone around you giggle along with whatever you're up to. You dance and you chatter and you play... You are just so very happy to be alive. It makes it pretty difficult to have a bad day.

I thank God for making you Briony, and for choosing you to be a part of our family - it's a perfect fit. Your daddy and I look at each other almost every day and talk about how lucky we are. We were so very happy. And then we had you and you have brought a new kind of joy to us - a great big joy that makes the whole world seem just a little bit more colourful than it looked on the day before we met you.

We love you so very much, and wish you a happy birthday and a wonderful second year in the world. It's so much fun to explore it all with you.


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Friday, November 13, 2009

A Cavalcade of Friday Smiles

I've been remiss in sharing Friday Smiles lately, so I shall attempt to make up for it today :)

1. Your Logo Makes Me Barf

2. Regretsy

3. This Segment on The Colbert Report last month, followed by this delicious open letter in print this week.

With special thanks to Aaron and Nicole.


This Post Is Brought To You By...

The letters F and U. Winnipeg Transit knows what they stand for. And they know why.

Our car is in the shop today. That sucks for two reasons: (a) it always means big money, and (b) we're a one car family, so it takes us down to a zero car family.

I had previously made plans for Briony and I to meet my mom at her office for lunch today. And after checking the bus schedule, I decided that we would still do it - using public transportation. Not my favourite thing in the world, but I figured that it wouldn't be a big deal. It was one bus, manageable walking distances on both ends, and a decent schedule. And it was a wheelchair-accessible route, so I knew we could do it with a stroller.

The way there was no big deal. The driver was nice and made sure to park near curbs and lower the bus so getting on and off with B was a total breeze.

The way home went terribly, terribly wrong. Let's see if I can paint you a picture.

Buses are made do accommodate strollers or wheelchairs. They are not made to accommodate strollers AND wheelchairs. Especially not two of each. It was a tight squeeze with a whole mess of tires up front.

Wheelchair #1 needed to get off first. The only way for this to work was for one of the rest of us to get OFF the bus and then back ON the bus. Clearly, Wheelchair #2 was not an appropriate candidate for disembarkment. Stroller #2 seemed likely - a very young mom who looked very able. Problem was, she didn't give a damn. So Lindsay and Briony in Stroller #1 wiggled our way to the front of the bus and got off the bus - easier said than done because the driver had parked super-far away from the curb and hadn't lowered down the bus. He was completely ignoring us, so I was forced to pick up Briony's monstrosity of a stroller and lift it onto the sidewalk. At this point, the bus driver proceeded to both lower the bus AND lower the ramp so that Wheelchair #1 could easily get off the bus. I scurried back on with Briony.

At the next stop - about ten paces down the road - Stroller #2 woke up and decided she'd get off now (um, are you kidding me?!). Stroller #2 was blocked in by Stroller #1 and Wheelchair #2, and she looked completely bewildered. The easiest solution was for me to offer to help lift Stroller #2 over the wheels of Stroller #1 and Wheelchair #2, which she agreed with - but didn't thank me for.

Another ten paces (seriously) and it was time for Wheelchair #2 to decide to get off. Again, we needed to disembark so that she could get out. And again, the driver ignored me and left the bus away from the curb and at full driving height so that I was forced to lift Briony and her stroller and all of our gear off the bus... And then he lowered the bus and the ramp for Wheelchair #2.

I got back on the bus and 'enjoyed' the last five minutes until we got to our stop. Of course, I was forced to lift everything for the third time. I couldn't keep my mouth shut. I informed the driver that I was both disabled and traveling with a baby, and that my day to day life is challenging enough without people like him making it more difficult. He pretended that I wasn't talking to him.

So now we're home, safe and sound except for the fact that I'm in agonizing pain. I was happy to get to have lunch with my mom... But it was an expensive lunch. An expensive DAY, actually - the car is supposed to be done later today, but the total repair bill is nearing the current value of the car itself. OUCH.


Thursday, November 12, 2009


When I wake up in the morning, we'll be just three sleeps + a bunch of hours from the end of these dastardly consecutive night shifts. (Not that I'm excited about it or anything...)

The most ridiculous part of all of this? It's Geoff's birthday on Saturday and Briony's on Monday. We'll likely only see Geoff for an hour - MAYBE two - on his birthday, so we're celebrating on Tuesday. AFTER Briony's birthday (which Geoff will be home and awake for SOME of). And we'll be celebrating Briony's birthday NEXT weekend.

Yeah. That's how we roll.

I wish I could say that I was dealing with all of this very well. I'm not. In fact, I've been dealing with it so poorly that it's kind of embarrassing.

I know that it's a combination of factors - not the least of which include a flare up, a teething baby, and the fact that I've been putting in probably 10 hours a day of client work and homework (snatches during the day and then largely after Briony's in bed and late into the night). But it's all culminating into a pretty major decision. I'm going to try going back on my 'happy pills' again tomorrow. I don't want to, but I owe it to Geoff and Briony right now to do better than I have been doing. And I want to do more than just survive this phase of our life.

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Chief Decision Maker


Now there's a mommy-induced title that I was not exactly prepared for...

Being a parent is all about making decisions on behalf of someone else. It makes me uncomfortable sometimes - even with all the reading and research I do, and even with a nurse as my baby daddy.

This fall has been especially stressful because of all the H1N1 crap. I feel like we have *extra* decisions to make now, and there's more pressure than ever on making the right ones because everyone else seems to be asking us what we're going and letting that influence their own family's decisions.

The thing about H1N1 is that I don't really stress about it in particular. I think of it as a flu with a high fever and something that's going around a little more aggressively than the normal flu. The percentage of healthy people who end up on ventilators - or die - is microscopically tiny, and I don't live my life in fear of insignificant statistics.

A few extra things that factored into our decision:
- Briony's already had the flu this fall and it SUCKED. And I'd like to avoid that - or an even worse flu - if we can.
- If either Briony or Geoff get sick, I take care of them, which almost inevitably ends up with me getting sick and flared up.
- If I get sick with any kind of virus, my arthritis charges in and flattens me for at least a couple of days. As a family, we don't really handle illness very well.
- With Geoff working at a hospital, he comes into contact with all kinds of crap than the average citizen (and probably inadvertently brings some of it home with him from time to time).

This morning, enough was enough. I made a couple of phone calls and set things in motion to make all the decisions we've been leaning towards official. Geoff got his H1N1 shot this morning, and I'm making arrangements for Briony and I to follow suit within the next week or two. On top of this, we've decided to delay Briony's 12 month immunizations until after Christmas - just because immunizations tend to suppress babies' immune systems for a couple of weeks and the combination of flu season + H1N1 concerns + the holiday season (where she's going to come in close contact with a heck of a lot of people) makes me worried that she'll catch SOMETHING.

So there you have it. Controversial or not, it's done, and it's the best decision for *our* family with the information that's available to us right now. PLEASE do your own research and make your own decisions about what's right for *your* family. But this is what we've decided for us, and for the first time in weeks, I'm feeling pretty okay about it.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009


How long can it possibly take for a measly couple of teeth to pop through some wimpy baby gums? And - perhaps more importantly - how many times will I get bitten before that happens?

It's still teething central over here (still working on Teeth 5 and 6, if you can believe it - they've been in progress for at least a month so far). All things considered, I really shouldn't complain. She's being a trooper. She's actually sleeping more than usual, which is nice but it makes my days impossible to plan. Lately, she's been totally fine with one good nap around lunchtime and an early bedtime around 6.30 or 7.00 (a new schedule that I am LOVING, by the way). This morning, she woke up at 8.00... and was napping at 9.30, after a full ninety minutes of manic giggles and insane biting attempts, interspersed with fussing. What the heck?!

I found myself microwaving the Starbucks that Geoff brought home for me at 8.00 because - two hours later - I'd managed to get about four sips into me. Now THAT's depressing.

The upside is that I can get some work done now... The downside is that I can get some work done now :)

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Day Four

Today is Day Four in a nasty ten day stretch of shifts for Geoff. By default, it's kind of a nasty stretch for all of us. I'm trying to focus on the fact that we're now almost halfway through instead of thinking about the - count them - FIVE night shifts that are still coming in the next six days.

I tried very hard to be zen yesterday, and failed miserably. I wasn't really feeling any better, and it was a long, tough day. Thankfully, Geoff was home to help with Briony in the morning - and even picked up groceries while Briony was napping and I was trying to hammer through a few client deadlines.

Today was a better day... There were probably a couple of reasons for that, specifically:
1. Briony slept straight through the night - no teething shenanigans - from 7 pm last night until 8.30 am this morning. Perfect. I love this kid.
2. Geoff brought me Starbucks this morning when he got home from his night shift.
3. We all cuddled on the couch in our pj's and watched last night's episode of The Big Bang Theory before Geoff headed off to bed and Briony and I got dressed and ready for our day. There's no way that a day with that kind of start could possibly end badly.
4. Oh, and did I mention that today was a Katie Day? :)
5. I got to work on a fun new project for a client with a super-urgent deadline (my favourite... is that sick?).
6. I called yesterday and found out that my massage therapist had a cancellation for today - so I took a break from work and went for a massage this afternoon.
7. I managed to get a bunch of things crossed off my list for the first time in DAYS today.

I'm definitely feeling better than I was yesterday, but I'm definitely still flared up. I'm using all of my energy to keep my focus on worrying only about necessary and imminent things, and making sure that I'm taking care of myself.

Katie's gone now, but dinner's in the oven - my go-to easy peasy recipe - and Briony's napping. I feel like I *should* be working... But I think I might go make a cup of tea and read a book for half an hour.


Tomato Parmesan Chicken

1 jar pasta sauce
6-8 chicken thighs or 3-4 chicken breasts
parmesan cheese
chopped veggies (optional)

Pour just enough sauce in a casserole dish or glass baking pan to cover the bottom. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Place chicken on top (if using breasts, cut in half to make smaller pieces). Add veggies if using. Cover with the rest of the sauce, and sprinkle with more cheese. Bake covered at 375 for 30-45 minutes. Serve over pasta.

The reason this recipe is so brilliant is that it uses things you already have. It's totally the thing I make right before we go grocery shopping. Today, I added cherry tomatoes and chopped zucchini and used the Newman's Own Marinara Sauce (one of my favourites because it's yummy AND all natural - we always stock our pantry from Costco). It takes about three minutes to prep - but it doesn't look like it - and it's seriously one of Geoff's favourites. In fact, I have yet to encounter someone who doesn't like it.

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

No Surprise

Yeah, BIG SHOCK but I'm pretty flared up today.

I get lots of questions about what that means, and it's tricky to answer because it's always different. Today, it's a combination of pain, fatigue, and other symptoms. The painkillers aren't really even taking the edge off. I'm tired to a degree that I don't expect most other people to understand. Even that really heavy awful pregnancy fatigue doesn't even really compare. And I'm actually finding that I'm sensitive to light and sound today - I cried in the baby room at church this morning because I wanted so badly to be out in the congregation while my worship team* was singing, but I just couldn't do it. I could feel myself crumbling. It's hard to describe. I just get so overwhelmed by everything - the pain, the fatigue, the noise, the light - that all I want to do is curl up in a corner with a blanket over my head. And if you know me at all, you know that's WEIRD.

Thank god for parents who think that helping me take care of my baby girl all day while Geoff is at work is a GREAT idea :)

I'll write more about the last part of my week + the weekend later. I have many, many thoughts about what it's like to have four kids to keep track of at once (however temporarily) and helping Chloe celebrate her very first birthday - among other things.

But for today, I rest. A very simple dinner is in the oven. Geoff will be home from work in just over an hour. Briony's playing happily (with the television on... SHHHH!). And I'm about to make our couch my permanent home for the second evening in a row.

Hoping for a better day tomorrow.

*I quit right before my due date with Briony, after a decade of singing with essentially the same group of people, and it's still totally 'my worship team.' I don't even know half of the songs they sing anymore. Funny.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Eleven Months Old (and a bit...)

This is so belated it hurts, but Briony is now eleven and a half months old. How the heck did that happen? Oh, and scratch everything I've said previously. Eleven and a half month old Briony is our favourite :)

This kid is RIDICULOUS. She makes us laugh every single day - many times a day - and is pretty much the definition of sunshine. It's incredible to me that a baby can be such a good friend, but she is. She is so friendly and has really impressed me with how gentle she can be around babies and animals. She's becoming much more active and confident in her movement, but is still perfectly content to crawl and pull up on things instead of walking (and that's FINE with me!). And the look on her face when she conquers something new... She just BEAMS - and claps for herself, of course. Wonder where she learned that? hehe

New Things This Month:
- Crawling has progressed to lightning speed
- Pulling up on furniture like nobody's business, and letting go sometimes but still pretty cautious
- Crawling up stairs (ack!)
- Giving her 'bite of approval' to things she likes - usually books, but this week it was Mommy too
- Waving pretty much on command when someone says goodbye
- Still LOVING bathtime
- Still LOVING food... We've introduced some yogurt and baby snacks now and she thinks they're the cat's meow
- Still dancing up a storm whenever she hears music she likes - even just a little music clip on a commercial will get her grooving, and her moves are RIDICULOUS
- Learning where her nose is (and mommy's nose and daddy's nose... the game is pretty much indefinite)
- TALKING... So far it's mama and dada and yeah and tickle and hi and hello and yay and baby, but she'll mimic pretty much anything she hears that sounds cool
- In related news, saying HI! about nineteen thousand times a day...
- Understanding NO... When she's doing something she knows she shouldn't be doing, she'll pause, look at me, and then shake her head no

Favourite Moments:
- The look on her face when she scooted up our big staircase for the first time (and then started falling backward because she started enthusiastically clapping for herself and saying YAY! - good thing Daddy was there to catch her)
- Whenever she's particularly happy to see us, she does this very special Briony nuzzle, kind of mashing her cheek into us

Looking Forward To:
More words. More movement. More dancing. And probably getting significantly less work done...

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Happy Birthday, Chloe!

One year ago today...

Happy Birthday, Chloe Marie!
aka Monkey Face, Stinky, C-Lo...

And congrats to my sister Jess & Kev on surviving your first year as parents :)

Meeting Chloe for the first time. Yep, that tummy is two days overdue. So you know whose birthday's coming next!

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Betting on Losing

I hit a rather unique first-time milestone last week. I cried on the phone with a telemarketer.

She was selling cancer insurance. Yes, CANCER INSURANCE. Basically, her company was betting that - by the ripe young age of 70 - I will have been diagnosed with breast, ovarian, cervical, or one of four other common female cancers. And she was attempting to assure me that - should this happen to me and my family - I'll want CASH.

I don't know why it affected me as much as it did, but I wanted to puke and cry at the same time. I tried to get off the phone politely and told her I wasn't interested. Then I told her again. And then I just broke down into tears and let her know that I couldn't talk about this right now because my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. Her gasp was audible and she just kept repeating 'I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry' - and I almost felt bad for her, because she was just doing her job. But how many households will she call where that is the case?

I can't bet on having cancer. I can't live my life that way. I won't. And if it happens to me, I don't want dirty cancer money. I want the people who love me.

And if that wasn't enough, THEY CALLED BACK. It was a new telemarketer, and she tried to convince me all over again. You'd imagine that tears and then slamming down the phone would have been flagged in their system somehow as a 'do not call back' or SOMETHING.

Ugh. I walked off my anger and shock (turns out I had around 12 km worth of anger and shock in me). I was definitely calmer after that, but whenever I think about it now, I feel like I need a shower.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Freelance Update

So it's been a little while since I checked in and provided an update on my little 'going rogue' project.

Well, my little project is turning into a big project - in a good way. With minimal effort, I have secured a pretty impressive little client list in a ridiculously short amount of time. It seems that word travels quickly in this town, and it feels *so* good when people call ME instead of me needing to chase them down and convince them that I'm awesome (kind of my worst fear in all of this). Of course, I'm always open to new clients and projects - but I'm almost officially busy with what I have.

The projects I'm working on are a secret for now, but they're covering everything from straight-up magazine journalism to coordinating public relations campaigns to writing websites and print ads and radio scripts... It's a little bit of everything, which is exactly how I like it.

And it's making me really happy. I missed doing this. And in lots of ways, it's even better than what I used to do because I'm actually getting to do the work - the actual guts of sitting down and writing something. The last couple of years were packed full of meetings and strategy sessions, and I'd assign writing projects to someone else and then stay up half the night marking up drafts and proofs and providing ideas and direction for the next day and the next round of proofs and drafts that I'd review the next night... All good stuff, but I didn't realize until now that I was missing being the one who actually got to write it all in the first place.

Anyway. I should really be working now... This week took a wicked turn and I'm now moving in at my aunt and uncle's house for a couple of days to take care of their kids - which will be making me an instant mother of four. Yikes! Probably not especially conducive to getting my work done, but it should be fun... Right?

(This is the part where you all lie to me :)


Vampire Baby

I have a giant baby-induced bite mark on my arm. What the heck?! It seemed very affectionate, but it hurts like crazy. Wonder what I've been infected with now.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Busy Bees

It's been a whirlwind here lately, which is starting to feel more like the norm and less like the exception. Not sure how I feel about that yet. But like it or not, that's our life these days.

Geoff and I took a little step back yesterday and left Briony with my parents for the day while we headed for the border... We spent the day in Grand Forks and got a head start on some Christmas shopping. It was a fun day - but it felt incredibly strange to both of us not to be planning everything we did around Briony. It was kind of nice. But we were very excited to pick her up and be a family again. This morning, she came and snuggled in bed with us and she kept on nuzzling her face up against us - just like she does with her favourite stuffed animals. It was so incredibly sweet.

Today was very much back to normal. Geoff was out the door by 09.00 for a dental appointment. I had two client calls before my friend (and former roommate) Sherri stopped by for coffee this morning. Then Geoff came home and I had just enough time to jump in the shower before heading out to meet with another client - while conferencing with yet another one on my cell phone in the car (I am *so* in trouble when that's illegal for real). Then it was back home where we traded off so that he could run an errand. And then we tagged off again so that I can get some actual billable work done.

Oh, and did I mention that my baby - who could not climb stairs at all when we dropped her off at my parents' place on Monday morning - is EASILY scooting up an entire flight of stairs today? Just saying.

Yep. Business as usual...

And in case you haven't heard, IT'S CHRISTMAS AT STARBUCKS. I went in for an Eggnog Latte this afternoon and actually walked out with something new: a Caramel Brule Latte. You should seriously consider stopping whatever you have going on right now and going to try one.

Life seems so much more manageable when you're managing it with a good coffee in one hand. At least, that's how it works for my life :)

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What's the biggest piece of news you've ever learned from Facebook? I'm sure that we've all found out about things like babies and engagements via someone's status update. And I just found out that my sister (who's spent a good chunk of the last 48 hours with my baby) officially has H1N1. On Facebook, of course :)

I'm sure there are a GOLDMINE of stories out there... What's yours?


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Briony vs Gravity

Okay, so I literally can't decide what my favourite part of this video might be.

A few possibilities:
1. The fact that she is a FLYING BUMBLEBEE.
2. How excited she is about Geoff putting on the Halloween episode of her favourite show ever. Just the opening theme song sends her into a frenzy (chant it with me now... PARENTS OF THE YEAR!).
3. The fact that she can't see a darn thing.
4. All the arm flapping, as if she is actually flying.
5. The creaking of the Jolly Jumper. Apparently, we're still well within the weight limit, but it scares me some days.
6. The simple truth that this marvelously entertaining creature is our daughter and we get to keep her forever and ever :)

Photo and video editing at


Love, Briony

PS - You can view more pictures of our Halloween adventure here.

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