Thursday, December 31, 2009

Still Alive

Just in case anyone was concerned... I'm still alive and kicking :)

Christmas was a whirlwind, and it happened a little bit later for us than for most people. We began the festivities on December 25 and wrapped up with our final family gathering on December 28. The days in between were INSANITY. And I got sick on December 27, so we've been slow to get back into the groove here.

Today around lunchtime, I finally felt like I was going to live. I'm actually being productive this afternoon - which is good, because I haven't cleaned, worked, or cooked in over a week. And in my infinite wisdom (haha), I'm hosting a little New Years shindig here in a couple of hours.

I'm feeling better, but I still don't have a voice. SUPER annoying to me, but Geoff seems to be enjoying it. Briony too. She *so* doesn't take me seriously when I whisper or squeak out a 'NO!' when she's up to no good.

Anyway. More to come... And in the meantime, HAPPY NEW YEAR. Hope you all have a fun and safe night surrounded by people you love.

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas To All

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Bonus Christmas

I can't help but focus on all the good things in my life now at Christmas time. It feels like we've come a million miles from last Christmas - a holiday that was celebrated despite a six week old, a major and long-lasting arthritis/fibro flare, and a mom who was still facing two weeks of radiation treatments and another surgery for breast cancer.

I've shed a lot of tears this Christmas over last Christmas.

This year, I'm celebrating with a happy, healthy one year old who brings me so much joy that it overwhelms me sometimes. I can't imagine anything better in life than getting to be her mommy and being on the receiving end of her thousands of noisy kisses.

I'm celebrating with a husband who is able to take all my ups and downs in stride and loves me anyway. He does an incredible job of providing for our little family and taking care of his girls. And he is every bit the wonderful daddy to Briony that I knew he'd be when I met him.

I'm celebrating with my entire family at home for Christmas - including my brother Aaron and sister-in-law Cait who are visiting from Vancouver and my grandma who's home from her second unexpected hospital stay this month. Having everyone home for the holidays is a 'bonus blessing' that I don't take for granted.

Maybe most importantly, I'm celebrating with my parents. These two incredible people have endured some big challenges in the last two years - challenges that could easily have taken down a less stable marriage. I've had the amazing privilege of getting to watch them journey together through the valley and it's made me a better person, a better daughter, and a better wife and mother.

Every Christmas we get to spend with my mom now feels like the best gift we could have ever asked for. It's a Bonus Christmas. And we are so incredibly blessed to be celebrating it this weekend.

But those laws of the universe and equal and opposite reactions apply to the holidays more than any other time. The full measure of our happiness is equal to the depths of grief and sadness experienced by families who haven't been as lucky as mine. Christmas is a terrible, terrible time to be missing someone. So let's all do what we can for these friends today and be their little Christmas miracle. Let's pray for them. Let's pick up the phone. Let's send a quick note. Let's drop off some cookies. Let's just drench them in love - which is the point of this season after all.

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I am not usually the world's biggest fan of Christmas presents. Don't get me wrong - I love it when people buy me things, and I especially love giving presents to other people. I just don't like it when the presents part of Christmas overshadows the family part of Christmas.

I think that the presents part was more fun for me this year than ever because Briony loved it so much. She was so excited to tear apart the wrapping and tissue paper and it was so much fun to watch her investigating her new toys. If this is only a hint of what's to come, I'm looking forward to many, many more holidays with her.

We tried to keep it simple for her. She got a new stroller, which came on the 23rd and is every bit as awesome as we'd hoped it would be. Geoff + I bought her a Little People schoolhouse set and a book - and she loved both of them. Well, it was a three-way tie between the Little People, the book, and the shiny wrapping paper (hehe). And she has some other little things in her stocking to open up later today.

I was way more excited to watch Briony open presents than to open any of my own, but I changed my priorities pretty quickly when I unwrapped a gorgeous pink Burberry scarf and gloves set from Geoff this morning. It was love at first sight...

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Silent Night

I've never been on my own for Christmas before. And don't get all technical on me - I know it's only Christmas Eve, which is technically the day *before* Christmas. But it feels like Christmas. And Geoff is working another night shift.

It's a strange thing, and I really needed to fight my first instinct to call everyone I know to find someone else without plans so that I would be busy tonight. But it's peaceful here. We're ready for Christmas and the house isn't perfectly clean, but it's under control - good enough until after the holidays. I'm finished everything I need to do for work until next week. Briony's in bed for the night. And I'm about to curl up on the couch to watch some good TV on DVD with a giant bowl of popcorn - with absolutely nothing hanging over my head and making me feel guilty for doing something totally unproductive and relaxing. Sometimes I let myself get so busy that I forget how much I enjoy my own company. It's far from my first choice, but I also realize that I need to get used to this because I married a nurse and this is not likely to be the last Christmas Eve that I spend at home with Briony and without Geoff.

In a little over twelve hours, Geoff will be home again and he'll sleep for part of the day. When he wakes up in the afternoon, we're planning to keep our Christmas tradition of breakfast and presents and just ignore the fact that it's 4 pm. Again, not my first choice, but I realize that this is how memories are made :)

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

So Close

I'm so close to Christmas holidays, I'm seriously like a kid waiting for Santa - or in my case, a little girl waiting for the first day of school. Hey, I never claimed to be cool :)

I wrapped up a major project yesterday and did some invoicing today. I have maybe an hour or two of research to do on another project that's beginning after the holidays, and I'll probably tackle that tonight just to have it finished. I can't really say anything for sure until 5.01 tomorrow evening because I'm still expecting at least one of my clients to have a sudden brilliant idea that it would be really nice to come back from their days off with some content completed and ready to go... But other than that, I'm *almost* officially on holidays for a couple of days. Crazy.

I'm realizing more and more that freelance = no time away from work. I don't mind because I love what I do, but I've been maintaining a pretty insane pace over the last couple of months and it's been months since I was able to just spend time with Geoff + Briony (and the rest of my family and friends) without having some project hanging over my head. I'm getting better at separating work time from personal time, but it's impossible to do that perfectly.

Unfortunately, freelance also = not getting paid for taking a day off, but I've been working so hard that I can afford to let that happen. I can't tell you how GOOD that feels :)

This morning, we hosted Aaron + Cait for brunch and it was *so* much fun to see them again - and to see Briony warm up to them again almost instantly. Tonight, I'm looking forward to doing one last load of laundry (I can't believe I said that either) and then watching TV without feeling guilty about not working. I can't even imagine what that will feel like, other than AWESOME.

And Geoff has two night shifts left before he's off until December 30. Not that I'm counting down or anything... :)

It's a good day. But two days from now will be even better because we'll ALL be off and Christmas can finally begin.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Secret


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Things I Learned By Not Being A Big Loser

Yesterday marked the end of our Biggest Loser competition.

There's another one starting up in January. I haven't signed up yet. I'm happy I did it this fall, but I think that - more than anything - what I learned from this experience is that there are other things I need to deal with before I can address The Weight Issue. And I'm okay with that, I think. Either way, I think I'm going to wait until after Christmas to decide.

The final results are in: I've lost 9.5 pounds since we started in mid-September. From now until eternity, I shall hereafter refer to this as a ten-pound weight loss. And while my goal was *technically* fifteen, I'm content with my ten. Ten pounds in eleven weeks is respectable, I think (especially when I stop and consider everything else going on in my life at the same time). Was I hoping for ten + oh, let's say FORTY? Yeah, maybe. But I'm still hoping for a money tree, for skin that doesn't glow a creepy iridescent blue during eleven months of the year and then lobster-burn painfully during those other four weeks, for not having to choose between blindness or wearing glasses or sticking little pieces of plastic in my eyes or paying someone obscene amounts of money to cut my eyeballs and then burn them with lasers. Life is full of small disappointments.

As I pondered this accomplishment yesterday, I realized that I've learned more than a few things on this journey so far.

I've learned to be gentle(r) with myself. Losing weight when your body is broken is possible, but it will not go as smoothly as it might for someone healthier. I'm never going to be that girl who drops a couple of pounds a week - and it has absolutely nothing to do with effort or determination.

I've learned to focus more on what I CAN do, and less on what I CAN'T. I hate that I can't make it through my 30 Day Shred DVD because my body can only take a couple of days at a time. But on days when I can't get 'real' exercise, I can still walk or do yoga or just take the stairs a couple of extra times - and I do.

I've learned that makeovers start on the inside. I probably should have gotten my depression more under control first. It didn't do me any harm to do it this way, but I honestly feel that I might have been effective if I'd switched those two steps around.

I've learned that how I feel about myself isn't as attached to my weight as I thought it was. The cold hard truth is that I felt prettier ten pounds ago (weird, isn't it?). I'm still not sure why, but I'm working on it.

I've learned that I need to take better care of myself. When my days get busy, I'm the first thing that gets sacrificed. I am particularly bad about making doctor's appointments for myself. There are health issues that prevent me from exercising effectively that I should have dealt with a long time ago, and you know what? I still haven't. But I'm going to deal with it now. Seriously.

I've learned that money does not motivate me. Neither did my competitors. This challenge was ALL about me, which came as a surprise because I'm a pretty competitive person. But it made me realize that I will be able to do this on my own if I want to... And it's going to be at my own pace. I know it will take a really long time, but the results will be worth it.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Smile

Two quick smiles:

1. This website always has the very best ecards. Anything that makes me spew eggnog out of my nose is good in my books. Their Christmas line-up is particularly spectacular... So if you're already too late to mail your holiday cards, be sure to check them out :)

2. My phone rang last night... 'Lindsay? It's Colette. Just making sure that you remembered your massage appointment with Crystal at 3 pm tomorrow.' No, I most certainly did not remember. But what a lovely surprise. What a thoughtful gift from Past Lindsay to Future Lindsay (and a soon to be very relaxed Present Lindsay). Three cheers for squeezing out the last morsels of our 2009 massage benefits!


Oh, The Humanity

What was that I was saying about insomnia? Pay no attention to the time at the bottom of this post. Clearly, we are still dealing with side effects from The Pills. I'm working on it.

Anyway. This week, it's been all about my body - which does not work the way it's supposed to EVER, but has been a special kind of annoying to me lately.

The gallbladder drama continues... This week has been worse again, and I thought about it a little more than usual today because I know someone who's getting hers out tomorrow morning and I'd be lying if I didn't confess that I am green with envy. Is that weird? I'm completely jealous that she's getting her guts pulled out of an incision in her abdomen tomorrow morning. I realized this week that it's been nearly eight months since my first major attack. EIGHT MONTHS. Eight months where my best case scenario is constant discomfort and my worst case scenario is really, really nasty. I continue to hope that Canada will someday adopt a policy of semi-privatized healthcare because - seriously - I would LOVE to write someone a cheque to just get this done already. If that bill gets pushed through in the next decade, I'm sure I'll still be waiting for surgery.

Fibromyalgia. Arthritis. Chronic Fatigue. Blah, blah, blah... It's all kind of status quo around here. Which is maybe notable because by now - this close to the holidays - I should be starting my annual Christmas Flare. I'm working *so* hard to avoid it this year (just ask all my friends who have been permitted to socialize with me only after sitting through and then agreeing to my strict guidelines and delineation of personal healthy boundaries). Wish me luck! Them too, probably. Assuming they still want to be friends with me :)

I'll bet you thought that this entire post will be about things you already knew (and have heard me bitch about a hundred million times before). Ah, dear readers, don't be too quick to jump to conclusions. Never underestimate the evil powers of my body. Because this week - quite unexpectedly - I seem to have royally effed up my wrist. How? I'm glad you asked. And I can see why you might be wondering, given my propensity for extreme sports and drunken brawling (and combinations thereof). But the truth is that I have absolutely no idea what happened. It started hurting on Tuesday afternoon, and by today it was nasty enough that I actually went into public wearing a nasty ugly brace because it felt SO MUCH BETTER. I'm guessing that my chances of seeing my doctor in the next week are approximately equal to the chances of that lonely old Jehovah's Witness couple forgetting to make their monthly visit to us in January (THANKS AGAIN, GEOFF). So either my prayers for a Christmas miracle will come true and I'll be healed *or* I'm going to have to be on my toes throughout this festive season to ensure said fugly wrist brace will not be visible in any photos. Which should be super-easy seeing my sister is a photographer and my sister-in-law is in university studying photography.

Oh, don't worry. I totally have Real Problems. It's just sometimes easier to dwell on the ones like ugly wrist brace photos.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Another Good Day

I think I'm on a roll here...

It was a good day, despite the fact that I had to set my alarm early. I bundled up and walked to Starbucks then caught a bus downtown for my meeting at The Arthritis Society. I'm still doing volunteer work for them - different than before - and stay tuned for not one but TWO major initiatives launching soon that I've got my paws all over. I'm *so* super excited about them both, I just about danced out of that office.

Oh, and surprised about the whole bus-in-the-cold thing? Me too, kind of. But it was a heck of a lot warmer than starting my car and a heck of a lot less stressful than trying to find parking. Would you also be surprised to know that when I was working those two days last week at my client's office, I *walked* there? It was freaking cold, but I actually kind of enjoyed it. I'm walking there again in the morning. And yet, I'm not losing any weight at all... Sigh. It's one of the great mysteries of life.

Anyway. Geoff + Briony picked me up at lunchtime and we spent a few hours running errands. And then we got home and I did some work and then I was feeling inspired by the success of my gingerbread yesterday so I decided to try making crostini for the first time - with vanilla, almonds, hazelnuts, dried cherries, and currants. I MUST be feeling better. They are *almost* done... I decided to leave the final baking part for tomorrow night when Emily comes to do some other baking with me. But they smell awesome.

I was feeling pretty good about myself, and about my day, until it was bedtime - and I didn't feel like sleeping. At all. And then reality came and punched me right in the face. I suddenly remembered The Other Time In My Life When I Was Taking These Particular Pills. And I remembered why I had stopped. Because they acted like a stimulant for me during the day, but it didn't wear off in time for me to sleep... So I eventually had to start taking a little something at night too. And then the dosage of each medication slooooowly started creeping up until I was both Seriously Drugged To Wake Up and Seriously Drugged To Sleep. I'm sending fervent prayers in the general direction of the sky hoping that we can figure something out to avoid that whole scenario again, because - for right now - we're keeping the drugs.

Oh, and did I mention that my gallbladder is acting up again? Because my gallbladder is acting up again. This surgery cannot come soon enough (and no, I don't have a date yet). I can't believe how excited I am for someone to cut my abdomen open and remove stuff :)

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Above The Water

I guess I'm officially On Medication now.

I don't know why that's so hard for me to swallow (pardon the pun). But I'm absolutely determined not to make it my dirty little secret. There are *so* many people who take pills to deal with depression, and I think we do a real disservice to ALL of them by not talking about it more. People take anti-inflammatories for arthritis. People have chemo for cancer. Depression is a disease too, so why is it such a bad thing to treat it?

ANYway. (Climbing off my soapbox now.)

I think I was doing a decent job at functioning without them, but it was FREAKING HARD - and I was just barely keeping my head above water most days (the other days I was drowning). I don't think the change is miraculous by any means, I just feel a little bit more like myself than I have in a long time. I'm not sure why I waited so long. I think I just needed to be ready, to make peace with the idea that I wasn't able to be a good wife + a good mom + a good writer + a good daughter/sister/friend/etc on my own. And I'm slowly becoming okay with that as I realize that it's not anything I did or didn't do - I'm just a little bit broken.

Yesterday was kind of a profound day for me. It just felt DIFFERENT. It was a perfectly ordinary day, except that I felt like a different kind of wife + mom than I have been. It felt like I actually made some progress during the day instead of slipping farther and farther behind. I was still tired, and it was still a tough day, but I felt PRESENT. And that's maybe the best Christmas gift I could have asked for - for me AND for Geoff + Briony.

Ugh. That pun was worse than the first ;)

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Forgive Us

There are lots of things that we've figured out about being parents. Regular church attendance is not one of them.

We actually did really well last winter/spring when she was tiny, and then again for a few months this fall. But now her napping schedule has shifted to make it virtually impossible. When we have managed to make it work, I've spent virtually the entire time in the baby room with a seriously unhappy baby on the verge of a meltdown - which pretty much erases any benefit of bothering to go to church in the first place. Even different service times don't seem to work. They're ALL at the wrong time.

Can you tell I'm slightly frustrated?

I hope that her napping will change again soon, because I actually miss church. I haven't always felt this need to be at church, but it's something that I'm really wanting right now, something that I need for ME. I think we'll need to find a bible study or a small group or SOMETHING in the new year to fill that void when Sunday mornings just don't work.

I'm relatively certain that God will forgive us in the meantime :)


Great Baby Stuff: Boon Suction Bowl

I am so in love with this bowl, it's probably a little inappropriate... It suctions onto Briony's high chair tray and the flexible rubber 'catcher' gets aimed in her direction and saves a good portion the 50% of her food that usually meets an unfortunate fate from ending up on her lap, in her bib pocket, stuck to her high chair, etc.

Oh, and it's CUTE!

It comes in a few different colour combos. We picked white + pink, but they're all fabulous in their own way.

And it's all one piece - and safe in the dishwasher - the key to this mama's heart :)


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Stupid Mommy Question

It's no secret that I didn't spend a lot of time around babies until we had one. I constantly find myself wondering about things that are probably no big deal - or maybe just common sense for a SuperMom. But I refuse to be shy about asking :)

We're in the process of slowly subbing out some bottles of formula with milk. SLOWLY would be the operative word... So far, she's really only tasted the milk and it hasn't replaced anything. I'm in no rush, especially with Christmas craziness just around the corner. She's doing so great on the formula that there's really no need to push anything.

But I have unanswered questions about what happens when we DO switch her mostly or totally over. I need to know how to manage being out all day with her when she's off formula. How do you pack milk and keep it at a safe temperature? Or do you keep formula on hand for situations like this? Or do you just do water + snacks and not worry about it for that day?

I want a baby manual. Seriously.

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I am *so* excited. This Christmas, we finally bought stockings and hangers for our fireplace. It's kind of funny that this is our third married/cohabitated Christmas and we're only getting around to it now - especially because it's a tradition that both of us grew up with. It's funny what a baby can do, isn't it?

Anyway. The stockings are fabulous. I had my heart set on something modern in grey and Geoff was (surprisingly) adamant that they needed to be traditional red stockings. We found some - at Chapters, of all places - that we could both agree on. After a pretty serious hunt, we finally found inoffensive stocking hangers at Walmart (SHUDDER). And the rest is history.

Except that now we need to fill them.

Our parents were both pretty practical with our stocking stuffers, which I really appreciate, and we're trying to do the same (with a couple of small fun items thrown in). I have a few things for Briony already and a few more things on my list, but I'm curious to hear what ideas other people have for great one-year-old stocking ideas. And I definitely want to hear about the kinds of things that you got in your stockings growing up.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Recipe: Avgolemono Soup

This soup is yummy comfort food at its finest. It thickens almost to an oatmeal-like consistency and tastes rich and decadent, but - without chicken - it's only 140 calories and 3 grams of fat per serving. You can also add onion, celery, and carrots if you want - but I kind of like it straight-up (with veggies on the side, of course).


Avgolemono Soup

3 cans condensed chicken broth
2 cubes chicken bouillon
1 cup chopped cooked chicken
1 cup short grain white italian rice

Combine ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil then simmer on low until rice is cooked.

3 eggs
1/3 c lemon juice

Whisk eggs and lemon juice together. SLOWLY add a little bit of broth at a time to the egg/lemon mixture until the mixture gets very warm. Pour into pot and stir as you bring the soup back up to a boil - then take the pot off the heat IMMEDIATELY.



It's five o'clock on a Friday. And I sense there's a country song that starts with precisely those words... I don't listen to country music. But that sounds about right :)


What's significant about this particular hour on this particular Friday is that it marks the official end to this particular week, a week that was - in a word - PURE INSANITY. Wait, that was two words. Oh well. What can I say... I'm a writer.

I worked away all day today, and Briony had a great time with Amber (to whom I owe A LOT for making time to hang out with B so that B's mommy could go to work today). I have more client stuff that's due over the weekend, and a Monday morning meeting to prep for. Geoff is still at work until at least 8 pm tonight, and back again for a twelve-hour shift tomorrow.

But for right now, it's five o'clock. Briony is napping upstairs. I successfully turned last night's mediocre chicken leftovers into a freaking amazing first attempt at avgolemono soup.

I am tired, and I am happy. I got to spend the last two days trying my hand at magazine editing, something that I always thought I'd enjoy and be good at - and both hypotheses turned out to be true. And it went well enough that I *hope* I'll be getting future calls about future issues.

And after all my panic about business and money, December is turning out to be an amazing month. Amazing enough that we were able to book tickets for our next Vancouver trip with confidence this week. Amazing enough that I finally feel like I'M REALLY DOING THIS. Amazing enough that - this month - I managed to top the full-time monthly salary I was making pre-maternity leave. And I got to do it (almost) all while hanging out with Briony. AMAZING.

I feel like I've finished a marathon. But in that really, really good-tired way, where you're so proud of yourself in the moment that you hardly notice the pain.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Working Girl

I just got home from my first day of 'real work' in an office since... WOW. I guess early October 2008. That's crazy! Especially because I spent about a million hours a week in an office for the almost ten years before then. Turns out that it's pretty much like riding a bike. I was making fun of my temporary co-workers within an hour of arriving ;)

I have a bunch of other little client stuff to take care of this afternoon, then I'm back at it again tomorrow morning. And I'm actually looking forward to it. I wouldn't want to do it all the time - or even most of the time - but it's been a fun little project and a nice change of scenery. Of course, I missed Briony - but a healthy amount, I think.

But the very best part was that I spent five minutes throwing things into the slow cooker before I left this morning, so I returned home to the smell of roast lemon garlic chicken. It's a new recipe, so I hope it tastes as good as it smells...


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Holiday Recipes

As promised...


Sweet Potato Casserole

4 c sweet potato, cubed
1/4 c sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
1/2 c milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 c brown sugar
1/3 c flour
3 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 c chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Put sweet potatoes in a saucepan with water to cover. Cook over medium-high heat until tender. Drain and mash.

In a large bowl, mix together the sweet potatoes, sugar, eggs, salt, butter, milk, and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Transfer to baking dish.

In a medium bowl, mix the sugar and flour. Stir in butter and pecans. Sprinkle the mixture over the casserole.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the topping is lightly brown.


Hot Apple Cider

Put in slow cooker:
4 L natural apple juice
1/2 large orange, cut into 4 slices with peel
2 cinnamon sticks

Put in spice ball or tied-off cheesecloth/filter:*
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp cloves
1 pinch nutmeg

Heat in slow cooker on LOW. When mixture reaches drinking temperature, change setting to WARM and enjoy.

Apparently, you can also rapid heat this recipe by running it through your coffee maker with apple juice in the water reservoir and the orange, cinnamon sticks, and spices in a coffee filter. It sounded like a lot of work to clean my coffee maker twice in one day, though - and I love how it smells while it heats in the slow cooker all afternoon.

*I folded the spices into a coffee filter and then put that little package in my spice ball because I was using some ground spices and didn't want the cider to get gritty. It worked great!

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Briony vs Santa

Geoff + I took Briony for her very first photo with Santa today. We kind of expected her to be cool and smiley about it - she's an incredibly friendly, easygoing kid. We were standing in line for a few minutes, and she was checking everything out and saying HI to Santa.

Side Note: Everything about a Santa experience is just WRONG. Everything in my Mommy Brain is screaming DANGER! DANGER! as I placed my baby onto a strange man's lap.

Apparently, Briony agreed... :)

(Click to enlarge the photo. It's totally worth it.)

Why not traumatize your child too? Photos with Santa are FREE at Kildonan Place from now until Christmas.

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And the client drama continues...

Today I got a call for kind of a dream project. The catch is that it requires me to work out of my client's office for a couple of days. The even bigger catch is that those days are tomorrow and Friday, and Geoff is working a night shift tonight and a day shift on Friday. And in case you've been missing from my blog for the last year or two, I HAVE A BABY.

I've spent a good part of the last hour in tears. I understand that being a parent sometimes means sacrifice. But this one really, really hurts. This project is something I have ALWAYS wanted to do, and I've never had an opportunity before. It probably sounds stupid, but I feel a little bit heartbroken.

So I've said NO to tomorrow morning and YES to the afternoon - Geoff is willing to forfeit sleep to help make this happen for me (just one of *so* many reasons why I love him). It's better than nothing. But I'm at a total loss for Friday. Katie and my mom are both working, and this is one of those times when it sucks to have all your family out of town (actually, out of province). I haven't said no yet because I keep hoping that I'll have a flash of genius and figure out something...

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009


I turned down a project today. It was the first time that a freelance client has called and offered something to me that I was really overqualified for, and I just simply didn't want to take time away from my family to do it. So I said no. And that felt very, very scary. Scary good, I think. But scary to just turn away money like that - and EASY money.

Oh well. We'll call it responsible brand management :)


Sunday, December 06, 2009

Holiday Card Spoiler

Coming soon to a mailbox near you...

With all kinds of thanks to the lovely and talented Miss Amber Olson who turned the beautiful family photos that my sister took this fall into a perfect holiday card from our crazy little family :)

They're all addressed and ready to go. It was quick, easy, and painless - and for a surprisingly small budget. AMAZING.

Oh, and I'm totally over the guilt of 'cheating' and opting out of cards that I would actually need to write something meaningful in. It's simply not happening this year. That seems to be the theme of this Christmas, actually - not cheating, but choosing to do things simply. And it's making me feel *so* happy and Christmassy.

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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Date Night

Geoff + I are going out with our friends Emily + Paul tonight for dinner and a movie. I feel like such a dork for being excited about this, but I've been looking forward to tonight for a month (which is pretty much how long ago we needed to plan to have a free Saturday night at the same time as Emily + Paul).

I really don't remember the last time we went out without a baby on a Saturday night. Probably not since before we had said baby... Actually, that's kind of sad.


Looking forward to relaxed, adult conversation and food that I can actually enjoy instead of just slamming it into my face before Briony needs something.

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My Eye! My Eye!

This morning, I look - and feel - like I got stabbed in the eye. I guess I kind of did. But that sucks.


Friday, December 04, 2009

Full Speed Ahead

Wow, what a day... And it started with the night that preceded it.

Geoff + Briony + I spent yesterday in Niverville helping with Christmas baking at my parents' house and returned home around 7.30 pm to find that our furnace was dead. The motor was making a terrible noise and it was 16 degrees inside our house. The floors were cold enough that my feet were getting tingly from walking on them. Not good.

I kept Briony in her parka and hat until the one portable heater we own managed to warm up her room. She received a hot water bottle inside a stuffed frog as a baby gift that came in very, very handy to warm up her spot in the crib (THANKS, Rob + Vicky!), I threw her blankets in the dryer to warm them up before bedtime, and she went to sleep totally without incident. Meanwhile, Geoff and I were freezing our asses off in the living room. I made hot chocolate - twice - and burrowed underneath some more dryer-warmed blankets while we waited for the emergency furnace guy to come.

He arrived around 8.30 pm, and our house had dropped another three degrees in that hour we were at home. Before 10.00, we were starting to get warmer - and were almost $600 poorer. It was all so incredibly irritating, but sooo worth $600 :)

That short time in a cold house meant that my arthritis was angry with me, and I didn't end up falling asleep until around 3.00 am - so when my alarm rang at 7.30 am, I wondered why anyone would be so cruel as to set my alarm for the middle of the night. I managed to accomplish NOTHING before Katie arrived around 8.00 am, then scrambled to make myself quasi-presentable and get out the door.

First stop was an opthamology specialist at Misericordia to FINALLY have someone check out the skin tag on my lower eyelid that I've been living with for a while. It doesn't bother me at all except that it's ugly - and I constantly have people asking what's on my eye and pointing it out to me (which I LOVE...). It was just a consultation, but he explained what they'd need to do to remove it, and then offered to do it on the spot. At this point, I wanted to puke. I had just heard the full description - which involved needles and knives and holding my eye open - and it did NOT sound like fun. AT ALL. But I knew that if I delayed it, I'd just worry about it until it happened. So we did it.

And then I headed off to meet two new clients with a gross, swollen eye. I seriously wish I was kidding.

Maybe it was pity, or possibly fear, but they both signed me to contracts for upcoming projects. It was a very good day for my freelance business - a day when I had to pull my car over to the side of the street and just FEEL for a couple of minutes. God has been so good to us, and he keeps on surprising me with how much he cares about our little family. I know beyond a doubt that his plans for me are bigger than the ones I've made for myself. How amazing is that?! I've had some very tough days - and there are more to come, I'm sure - but I feel like there's this umbrella over us, this feeling that we're exactly where he wants us. Yes, I'm in a lot of pain today. Yes, we just got hit with ANOTHER unexpected bill. But we're absolutely okay.

This afternoon, I managed to pick up a few things off my Christmas list, write 2,000 words for a *different* client, finish my last assignment for this course (YAY!), and grab the envelopes we need for our holiday cards. Now it will be a race to see how much I can get done while Briony naps and before Geoff gets home because I've committed myself to another 10-15 hours of work over the weekend.

Oh, and did I mention that today is Geoff's last shift until *next* weekend? I am really looking forward to family time before everything gets really, really crazy over Christmas. November was a long haul for all of us, and it just works so much better when we're a team.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Pilgrim Potluck 2009

In summary...

My turkey turned out perfectly. WHEW.

We ate lots of food, we got a little loud about the ending of the Grey Cup game, and we talked and laughed and just generally had a great evening.

I attempted *making* apple cider for the first time. Instead of just buying it and throwing it into my slow cooker, I combined stuff and then threw it in my slow cooker. It was sooo yummy. I'm totally making apple cider from now on.

I tried a new, slightly healthier sweet potato casserole recipe. It will be going into the permanent collection due to its awesomeness.

Briony developed an intense love of roasted bird flesh, and threw the closest thing I've ever seen to a tantrum when she ran out and noticed that the adults at the table had more that they weren't sharing with her.

Ten adults barely consumed one bottle of wine with dinner, which is possibly the weirdest phenomenon I've ever witnessed. It just wasn't that kind of evening. And we all had fun anyway. Go figure... hehe.

Kathy was healthy enough to come, which totally made my day :)


New Addition

Our decision finally made, Geoff + Briony + I stopped by Lux for Sprouts again today and ordered our new stroller. Don't get me wrong - we still LOVE LOVE LOVE our first one - but Briony's thisclose to outgrowing her infant car seat. And the whole travel system we've been using (affectionately referred to as The Beast) is serious overkill for the mall. Never mind air travel... I don't think our marriage can take another flight with The Beast in tow. But he will continue to serve us well when we're out for walks in the neighbourhood, at the lake, needing extra storage space for STUFF.

Anyway. It was time to find ourselves a convenience stroller. Our mission was to find something that was lighter, easier to get in and out of the trunk, easier to fly with, and a little bit smaller - there are stores we've literally been unable to browse because of The Beast's heftiness. We were not willing to entertain the idea of a straight-up umbrella stroller unless it could dazzle us with its ergonomics and smooth handling. I am simply not that able-bodied. Whatever we found had to WORK, first and foremost.

So without further ado... Allow me to introduce you to the Zapp. She's pretty, isn't she? :)

But that's not all... This online review - and then just getting to play with it in the store for a minute or two - means that the stroller essentially sells itself. This functionality is RIDICULOUS.

Yep, another Quinny. We were so impressed with the first one that I'm sure we were biased when stroller shopping this time around. Let's hope we're equally impressed.

It's on order, and I can hardly wait! It should be here before Christmas. Which is fitting, because it's totally Briony's Christmas gift. I know, I know... LAME PARENTS. But this girl does not need more toys, books, or clothes right now - and I'm sure that others will shower her with those types of gifts over the holidays because they certainly did on her birthday, oh, about ten seconds ago. We'll get a few small things for her still just because I'm a great big sucker for Christmas (and it's so much fun to watch her ooh and aah over presents), but this is the big plan that her therapist will hear ALL about later :)

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Twenty-Two Days

That's how much time I have left until the end of our Biggest Loser Challenge. SIGH.

My goal for this whole little project was to lose 15 pounds this fall. So far, I've lost *almost* 10. That means I have around 5.5 pounds to lose in 22 days. It's not impossible, but I also don't want to absolutely count on that happening. It's hard not to get discouraged... The scale doesn't exactly read what I'd hoped it would at this point in our competition. But I know that I've also been busy making myself over on the inside, and I know that this internal work can sometimes take just as much energy as all the external stuff.

At the end of it all, I hope that I'll be able to see this project as a success - no matter what the scale says on December 23. It's a journey, that's for sure. I can't say that I love my body. But I don't hate it as much as I used to. And that's progress, right? On top of that, I know that - even if I fall short of my goal - losing 10 pounds is nothing to be ashamed of. It's 10 more than 0 :)

By the way, why did no one warn me that - as some of the residual baby weight comes off your tummy - things actually get FLABBIER?! Ugh.

Anyway. The point of this all is that I've spent this evening watching the *real* Biggest Loser. It's the second-last episode of the season, which by definition makes it The Marathon Episode. Which by definition ALWAYS MAKES ME CRY. It's just that I know *exactly* how these people feel, pushing themselves to finish a marathon even when their bodies say DUDE, NO WAY - and even if it means taking all day and limping across that finish line 26.2 miles after you started.

It's such an inspirational episode, and I'm in awe of how STRONG these people are. But it's an extra kind of inspirational for me because it makes me realize that I have that strength in me too. And I know that I'll kick this weight thing yet - because I'm strong. I'm a girl who finished a marathon. Heck, I'm a girl *with arthritis* who finished a marathon.

I may have lost it, but I know it's there. It's in me.

By the way, THAT'S STILL CRAZY TO ME. Seriously. What was I thinking?! Easily the stupidest idea I've ever had :)

But want to know an even crazier secret? I kind of want to do it again.

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