Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Thought For Today

"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."
- Herm Albright


Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Secret

I thought this one was adorable.

I don't think we ever outgrow first day butterflies - even if we're finished school and it's the first day at a new job, a new moms group, a new class, a professional development luncheon. Inside, I think that everyone turns about six years old and secretly worries that no one will like them.

As soon as I realized how very universal this feeling is, I stopped being so scared :)

When's the last time you did something that gave you 'first day butterflies'?


Crumbly With a Chance of Meltdown

So Briony seems to be a little bit better. She ran a fever off and on again on Saturday night and all day Sunday, and her rash has been coming and going a little bit too. She woke up this morning and seems to be doing well...

*fingers crossed*

I, on the other hand, am pouring all my energy and focus into one primary goal: DO NOT CRUMBLE. One foot in front of the other. Essential responsibilities only. Do whatever you need to do to survive.

I'm exhausted. Exhausted, in pain, and tres bitchy. Once again, this week is going to be a gong show, between Geoff's work schedule and mine. The monsoon I endured on my way to work this morning didn't exactly help. If I wanted to deal with soggy pant hems and Olympic calibre umbrella wrestling, we'd live in Vancouver... hehe.

This weekend, Briony + I moved in with my mom for two days and it was awesome to enjoy some extra help.

Today's solution is going to be to leave work early and meet Geoff + Briony for lunch. And then maybe a nap. With a 100% chance of a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

One Moment With Briony

Today brought a couple of major milestones...

Briony's first attempt at walking on tiptoe. SO CUTE. She's kind of awesome at it already!

Briony's first successful independent singing of 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star' - she sang the entire song a couple of times today. Might be my new favourite thing of hers, though I'm rather partial to the 'I Love...' songs that we're still hearing regularly around here (especially when the sings about loving mama... and sometimes when she sings about loving baby ducks :)

Briony's first traumatic rash. When I first laid eyes on her after work today, I PANICKED. It looked like measles. Some quick internet research and a call to our pediatrician confirmed that it's something called exanthema subitum - which actually completely explains her weird scary fever earlier this week. The rash is nasty-looking but not contagious or uncomfortable to her at all. I'm already dreading leaving the house with her this week and needing to explain to a hundred anxious mommy strangers that she doesn't have leprosy. SIGH. We might be staying home for a little while.

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Ready for the Lake

VERY proud of herself - eating an apple AND sitting in her new toddler-sized lawn chair that she cannot stop showing us, talking about, sitting in, moving around the living room... :)

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The Three Musketeers

Briony's two favourite people in the world are Grandma and Coco (my sister's daughter Chloe... Briony started calling her Coco, and now we all kind of do...). Okay, and maybe Grandpa too.

What makes it even cuter is that Chloe feels exactly the same way. Whenever either one of the girls gets to Grandpa + Grandma's house, they immediately begin searching for the other girl. It's kind of adorable how very much they love each other. And that love is only almost rivalled by their love for their beloved Grandpa + Grandma. Mom + Dad? They could probably take us or leave us ;)

We had a playdate with my mom, Jessica, and 'Coco' last week and managed to grab a quick photo of the three musketeers.

By the way, Briony's headband is courtesy of Kari-Ann at Playful Peanut. Cutest headbands EVER (and they actually stay put pretty well on squirmy toddlers - better than any others we've tried).

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To say that my daughter has an active imagination would be the understatement of the century. This kid is FUNNY. And she's constantly playing pretend.

To encourage her creativity, we've made a bunch of little dress-up props available to her. Her favourites are her dress-up hats that we found at Ikea and a bunch of cheap little animal masks that I found at Michael's with Emily last week (seriously cheap... 45 cents each!). She wants to play with them all the time. And she finds it even funnier when we play with her - or when her favourite stuffed animals join in on the fun.

These are *very* common scenes in our house these days... Evidence of how very much our lives have changed over the past two years - and all for the better :)

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Briony's First Fishing Trip

Falcon Lake (August 2010)

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Splish Splash

At the water park in Kamloops (June 2010).

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Toddler + Tiaras

I'm so behind on uploading photos here... I'll do my best to play a little bit of catch-up today :)

My niece Hannah took a bunch of photos while we were in BC this summer - both in June and in August.

During our August trip, Briony and I went on a walk with Geoff's mom, his sister Joanne, and Hannah. Some of us (AHEM) were trying to coax B into 'modelling' for the camera. OH MY GOD. We've created a monster... A ridiculous, hilarious, and ADORABLE monster.

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Friday Smile

You know where to find me tomorrow morning... :)

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Oh, Sam...

Can't wait for a Friday Smile to share this because it's less of a smile and more of a giant neverending laugh out loud...

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From Tiffany, With Love

So it's likely no surprise that Geoff + I have been having a blast planning our NYC trip. The biggest stress since figuring out a fabulous plan for Briony and locating a fabulous hotel has been trying to decide what to see on Broadway ('Wicked' is obvious, but there are so many others I'd love to add to that list... and this is possibly the only time in my life where I'll get to use my Theatre minor, hehe).

Naturally, I called it 'research' when I started browsing the Tiffany site a few weeks ago. The hints I've been dropping have been anything but subtle and may or may not have included actually sending my husband an email with the link to the necklace I kind of fell in love with.

This morning - after a seriously rough night with Briony - I was sitting on the couch, looking like hell, cuddling our very sick baby girl, when Geoff came and slipped The Necklace around my neck.

It was so very unexpected, in such a spectacularly unspectacular moment, that I've been tearing up over it all day. What an incredible guy. Not because he buys me stuff, but because he takes such amazing care of me and Briony and loves to make us smile.

Now every time I walk past a mirror, I'm just a tiny little bit *more* excited about getting to explore NYC with him in three months.

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Return of Mama Bear

Well, apparently, it's been a while since we've had a sick kid in this house. I'd completely forgotten how horrible it is.

Briony woke up last night running a significant fever. We were up for hours trying to bring her temperature down, get some fluids into her, and get her calmed down (she HATES feeling sick). Even once we'd tried everything, she was still really warm. We put her back in bed and I settled in on the floor in her room for the night.

For the record, I never anticipated being That Mom, but I TOTALLY AM.

She was still running a fever this morning, so we did it all over again. Geoff graciously allowed me to go back to bed for a while (oh glorious sleep!) and so I'm feeling quasi-human again, but the stress and physical demands of caring for a sick baby have definitely flared me up today. And I have client deadlines to hit every day this week. SIGH.

I'm not sure if it's sick-sick or teething-sick (those damn incisors are still working their way out). We've been managing to keep her full of fluids - and even a little bit of food - and she's not herself, but she's still playing and singing and reading books with us.

No panic here, but it's incredible how a sick kid brings out the Mama Bear in even the most rational parent. It's so all-consuming until these little snugglebugs are feeling better again. Here's hoping that happens very, very soon.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

One Moment With Briony

Briony has been experimenting with SO MANY SENTENCES lately. She's been speaking with sentences for a while now, but they're getting longer and she's trying new things all the time. Sometimes the words don't *quite* come out in the traditional order...

Briony's quote of the weekend (overheard several times):
Where the grandma are you?

Hilarious. I hope she doesn't get too good at sentences too soon because these failed experiments are awesome.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Happy Day

It's been a wonderful couple of days at the lake. Geoff had a bunch of shifts booked, so my parents offered to help out and hosted Briony + I at their spot at Falcon Lake. It was so good to get away a little bit, and to enjoy so much fresh air and sunshine. We went out on the boat a bunch of times and Briony went fishing for the first time. We even dropped the anchor on the boat twice and and jumped into the lake for a swim. Incredible. Briony had some earlier-than-usual mornings, but we had some good outdoor time before the lake got busy and it turned out okay (especially because her apologies came in the form of some pretty formidable napping).

It was a tough weekend health-wise for me, but I surprised myself with my ability to keep a good attitude about it. I don't know how long I'll be able to hang onto that, but - for now - I'm trying to embrace the idea of acting the way I want to feel and pushing positive energy out into the universe instead of whining about it. Wish me luck :)

Now that we're back in civilization (tongue in cheek because Falcon is hardly roughing it... hehe), I topped off the weekend with another incredible high: I booked our much-anticipated trip to New York! Geoff + I are sucking it up and leaving Briony with Geoff's mom for a week in mid-December so that we can have some fun, reconnect, and fulfill my ridiculous girlish dream of experiencing New York City in all its Christmassy awesomeness.

I'm doing my very best to temporarily ignore the idea of being so far away from Briony for so long... A necessary evil, I suppose. It helps so much to know what a fabulous week she'll have with her Grammy :)

Oh, and the very best part? Thanks to our embracement (there MUST be a real word for that, but I'm SO TIRED right now) of Gail Vaz Oxlade's financial genius, IT'S PAID FOR. We've been putting money into our vacation savings account - a literal separate, labelled account - all year and then transferred it as a pre-payment on our credit card before we booked it so that the millisecond we clicked to finalize the purchase, it was already paid off. It was paid off BEFORE we clicked. I can't even describe to you how very, very incredible that feels.

We compromised on flights to create some wiggle room in our accommodation budget. The result is that we were able to afford exactly the hotel we wanted to stay in. I'm verrrry excited. My apologies in advance if I end up annoying you between now and December with my enthusiasm for all of this. Life's been tough this summer and it's helping me so much to have something exciting to focus on and look forward to.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Bonus Smile

After I finished work today, Geoff + Briony picked me up and we ran a rather important errand. We signed Briony up for her very first dance class! She starts three weeks from today and will go every Friday until the end of May. The people at the school were so incredible with her, and even took her into the studio to show her where the class would be.

It's a class made up entirely of two year olds (and their parents) and is supposed to introduce her to different styles of music and dance. If she likes it, she'll be able to take a three year old pre-ballet class next year. Don't you just want to make little shrieking noises over how adorable all of this is?! hehe

I'm so excited for her :)

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Chasing clients for money is hands-down the WORST part of freelance work. Can't I outsource this? Or hire an assistant to do it? Seriously.

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Friday Smile

Last night, I had an opportunity to do something kind of special. Emily + I attended my friend Anja's art show opening - 99 Pieces of Art on the Wall - at cre8ery. It was interesting to see the work of so many local artists in so many mediums, but what made it special was getting to see Anja's work in that setting. It was incredible to me that I could spot one of her photographs or paintings from across the room and know that it was hers. And I finally got to see her studio space there, which was very important to me.

Anja pursues creative expression like no one else I've ever met. It's so naturally and authentically a part of her, and it makes me so proud to be able to call her a friend (and so inspired to pursue new ways of expressing my own creativity in my own way). I'm also - somewhat selfishly - very excited that Briony can grow up around her Auntie Anja and be exposed to art in this way.

You can take a look at some of Anja's work on her Anja Studios blog. And definitely check out the show during its run between now and September 3.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Random Acts Of Awesomeness

Are you sick of hearing me brag about my friends? TOO BAD. Because I'm nowhere near finished.

I woke up bitchy today. Well, it's true. I was mad about how lousy I felt, mad at Geoff for not being able to read my mind, mad at the world for being so annoying... But it's kind of amazing how a day can turn around.

Today, I received a random surprise delivery of flowers + a caramel macchiato from a friend who knows what a tough week it's been around here. This delivery occurred while I was out with another friend who knows what a tough week it's been around here (while Geoff watched Briony for a couple of hours because he knows what a tough week it's been around here).

It's incredible how these small, spontaneous gestures can so absolutely and completely turn a frown upside down.

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Lucky Girl

A friend of a friend passed away today. He was in his 30s, engaged to be married, and diagnosed unexpectedly with terminal leukemia. He lived only a few weeks after his diagnosis.

Kind of puts things in sobering perspective, doesn't it? This week has been tough. Really tough. But not compared with others' struggles. Stories like this one literally make my heart hurt, and in the next breath I'm grateful for that very heartbeat - overwhelmed by all of God's goodness and everything he's given to me, grateful to be living another day with my husband and my daughter, even when those days are tough.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

30 x 30

The development of this list began about a month before I turned 29. It took WAY TOO LONG to finish it, because I had to fight every instinct to make these goals overly specific and actionable and measurable as per my public relations background (ahem... TYPE A).

I love the idea of a 30 x 30 list. Let's face it, I love the idea of ANY list. This one has been greatly influenced by so many things that I've been reading and thinking about and praying about lately.

No matter the external circumstances, it's the desire of my heart to be HAPPY, and to be in a place where I can project that happiness into my family and my relationships. As someone who believes that happiness is a choice, it only makes sense to create goals and take action to create a happier life for myself. And as a person who's approaching a significant milestone in my life, it only makes sense to use that milestone as a goal.

I'll be honest. It was very, very hard not to make one of these goals weight-related. But the older I get, the more I realize that my weight is not tied to my happiness. My health is, though, and I've made a few goals that address that.

I'm excited for 30. I've told Geoff that it feels like my 20s were all about working toward goals I hadn't really even set yet - false starts and guesswork and laying the foundation and piecing together the things that would make up my grown-up life. At 29, I have my husband and my career. I have my baby and our family is complete. We live in a house that's exactly where I've always wanted to live. Part of me finds this terrifying, because I'm a girl who's always working toward something. But part of me is excited about the idea of spending my 30s ENJOYING everything in my life. And that's where my resolutions come in, because it would be a shame to have this fabulous life and let these years slip through my fingers without truly enjoying them. I simply will not let that happen.

So here it is, and here we go...

30 x 30: 30 Resolutions Before My 30th Birthday

1. Go on vacation with just my husband.

2. Take better control of my health.

3. Declutter my house (basement included... *shudder*).

4. Replace my favourite VHS movies with DVDs.

5. Start a proper file back-up system.

6. Find a perfect little black dress.

7. Update my address book.

8. Finish school.

9. Find a creative outlet that isn't related to my work.

10. Date Geoff again.

11. Establish family traditions.

12. Start saving for my 20th sickoversary trip.

13. Catch up on watching Mad Men.

14. Focus on living more mindfully and being present in every moment.

15. Connect with a church community (whatever that means).

16. Take more pictures.

17. Finish our will + power of attorney stuff.

18. Learn to drive standard.

19. Replace these glasses that I've been wearing for FAR TOO LONG.

20. Remember my travel mug when I go to Starbucks.

21. Upgrade our family car.

22. Develop a morning routine that is comfortable and sustainable.

23. Exercise regularly.

24. Seek out and build up new friendships.

25. Make old friendships more of a priority.

26. Remember important dates.

27. Start a memory box for Briony.

28. Look for opportunities for random acts of kindness.

29. See myself the way that others see me (and stop being so hard on myself).

30. Blog every one of these resolutions.


A Little Bit Broken

Today is shaping up to be an imperfect trifecta of epic proportions: an epic level of stress, an epic level of pain, and an epic level of fatigue. I'm working very hard to remember that how I feel and respond to this is ALWAYS my choice.

I'm also working very hard not to *choose* to yell at people and kick them :)

I know I've been quiet lately - both on my blog and in my life. I'm not entirely sure why, but I've just been feeling a little more introverted than usual these days. I'm not hiding, but I think that part of me just doesn't want to subject other people to this.

This flare is exhausting me, and October's specialist appointment still feels awfully far away. I feel like I'm just barely managing to survive each day, and completely incapable of accomplishing anything more than that day's minimum. If you know me, you know that I HATE THAT.

It's wearing me down. But as I told Emily yesterday, even with these challenges (and they are seriously challenging me right now), my life is still full of every component of happiness. Whether I gather all those components together and choose to make it a happy life is my decision. And I do choose that. I'm just needing to redefine what a happy life looks like when I'm sick. And that process has been intensely personal - full of tears and frustration and a little bit of a broken heart.

But you know what helps me feel a little less broken? Going to see 'Eat Pray Love' last night with a couple of dear friends who've also read the book, and having a nerdalicious book vs movie discussion at Starbucks after. A husband who went to the theatre earlier in the day to pick up tickets so that I didn't need to wait in line. Putting together my old travel information to help Katie plan a trip to London. A surprise knock on my door from Christine, bearing flowers and a card and a hug just to let me know that she cares about what I'm going through.

I'll make it through simply because I'm not doing this alone. And because I'm so determined to do SO MUCH MORE than just survive this.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday Secret

Sorry, Geoff... :)


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Yay Me!

So I just found out that I pulled a 90% on my final paper for school. YAY ME! What a lovely way to finish the program, don't you think? And I am *so* freaking proud of myself for doing it - especially with everything else going on in my life this summer.

A *huge* thank you to Marilyn for watching Briony so that I could write my 90% final paper. And an equally huge thank you to a great big list of family and friends who supported me and believed that I could do this.

So that makes three degrees, a certificate, and a diploma in our little house so far. YIKES. It's probably a good thing that Briony's RESP was started already... hehe.

Of course, no one is awake to celebrate with me here and it's too late to call anyone... So I'm sharing it here. And then I'm going to do a little happy dance around my living room. Because I got a 90% on my final paper :)


(Belated) Monday Secret

Ack! Totally forgot to post this one on Monday... Better late than never, because I particularly enjoyed - and related to - this one :)

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

By 30

I'm not 30 for *almost* another year, but I've been thinking a lot about my 30x30 list (oh, come on, you knew it was coming).

I came across this online today - an OLD article from Glamour magazine that was shared online by another blogger staring down the barrel at her upcoming 30th birthday - and it made me smile...

By 30, you should have:
One old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you how far you've come.
A decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in your family.
Something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour.
A purse, a suitcase and an umbrella you're not ashamed to be seen carrying.
A youth you're content to move beyond.
A past juicy enough that you're looking forward to retelling it in your old age.
The realization that you are actually going to have an old age -- and some money set aside to help fund it.
An email address, a voice mailbox and a bank account -- all of which nobody has access to but you.
A resume that is not even the slightest bit padded.
One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry.
A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill and a black lace bra.
Something ridiculously expensive that bought for yourself, just because you deserve it.
The belief that you deserve it.
A skin-care regimine, an exercise routine and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don't get better after 30.
A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship and all those other facets of life that do get better.

By 30, you should know:
How to fall in love without losing yourself.
How you feel about having kids.
How to quit a job, break up with a man and confront a friend without ruining the friendship.
When to try harder and when to walk away.
How to kiss in a way that communicates perfectly what you would and wouldn't like to happen next.
The names of: the secretary of state, your great-grandmother and the best tailor in town.
How to live alone, even if you don't like to.
How to take control of your own birthday.
That you can't change the length of your calves, the width of your hips or the nature of your parents.
That your childhood may not have been perfect, but it's over.
What you would and wouldn't do for money or love.
That nobody gets away with smoking, drinking, doing drugs or not flossing for very long.
Who you can trust, who you can't and why you shouldn't take it personally.
Not to apologize for something that isn't your fault.
Why they say life begins at 30.

Guess I'll be ready to turn 30 next year after all :)

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On The Edge

"I'm so tired of standing on the edge of myself. You know I'm longing for it, to dive in..."
- Jennifer Knapp

Lately, I've been obsessed with the idea that this - right here, right now - should be the happiest time of my life. I have a husband who loves me. I have a healthy, happy, beautiful daughter. I have a job that allows me to spend lots of time with both of them (and some clients who I'm beyond thrilled to be working with). I have a supportive family and generous, encouraging friends. I even managed to finish school this summer. Granted, my health is a challenge that probably factors into all of this... But overall, my life is great. So why I am so utterly incapable of just letting go and enjoying it?

It's not that I'm UNhappy. That's not it at all. But I wish that I could just stop and embrace and truly appreciate all the wonderful things in my life right now.

On the recommendation of a friend (thanks Nicole!), I've been working my way through The Happiness Project. I'm about halfway through a whirlwind read, but I can already tell that I'll be going back and giving each chapter and slow and thoughtful second read.

The author - Gretchen Rubin - talks a lot about her quest to just be Gretchen. That idea has made me think so much about what it would look like in my life to just be Lindsay. If I worried less about what I think others expect from me, what would fall away and what would take higher priority in my life right now?

I want to embrace my full Lindsay-ness. Exactly how I'll accomplish that remains to be seen. But I suspect a personal Happiness Project of sorts may be in the works...

Yeah. That is so just a photo snagged from the internet... As if Lindsay has fun mugs like that (hehe).

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Saturday, August 07, 2010

Covered in Love

Okay, WOW. I don't even know where to start. Today has been a little bit overwhelming, in the best possible way. I've been crying on and off since I woke up, I think.

Briony did a really good job this morning. I talked with someone at the gate right away and let them know that I was disabled and traveling alone with a toddler. And they were fantastic - someone from WestJet helped carry the stroller to the door of the plane and took my carry-on bag all the way to our seat.

Briony wasn't exactly thrilled about needing to stay within two square feet for almost three hours (and who can blame her... I hate it too!), but she did a good job. We had a separate seat available for her, which was great - but the woman in the third seat over did NOT like kids. She was kind of mean, actually - and I'm sure she got off that plane, stomped over to the WestJet desk, and complained about the child on her flight. But the parents in the row behind us (who were traveling without their kids) played peekaboo with Briony during the flight and commented at the end that she'd been incredibly well-behaved, better than their kids had ever been.

The toughest part was around 45-60 minutes before landing. She was starting to fuss and cry and escalate, and I sent up a quick and desperate prayer... Within seconds, Briony curled up on my lap, leaned her head against my chest, and quietly watched the television screen until we landed. THANK YOU, GOD. I love that we have a God who cares about little things like cranky toddlers and parking spaces :)

In Winnipeg, one of the WestJet people actually stepped up and volunteered to hold Briony while I set up the stroller - and to my surprise, Briony took to her immediately and was giggling and asking her about her nametag. Also to my surprise, she didn't fuss at all about being put into her stroller. And when the elevator doors opened, Geoff was standing two feet away waiting for us (with a Starbucks in hand for me... how did he know?! hehe).

Briony was *so* happy to see her Dada, and thrilled to run around our house checking out all her toys and her room again.

Today has just felt like one big, long hug - from all of Marilyn's help to get us to the airport this morning, to Geoff's smile when we stepped off the elevator at the airport, to shampooed and steam cleaned carpets + totally cleaned out flower beds with new flowers planted all around the house (I'll say it again: I have the best friends in the entire world), to the flowers and groceries that Geoff picked up, to an inbox full of emails and texts from people who were praying for our flight this morning.

I'm feeling head to toe covered in love :)

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Coming Home

It’s amazing how much can happen in a week, isn’t it? It feels like I’ve lived a year in the week (and a bit) since Briony + I came out to BC.

I feel like I turned a little corner today. This morning was rough - made even rougher by the fact that Briony was up twice last night (no idea why) - and when we headed out to Mill Lake via Starbucks for a walk after breakfast, I was definitely doubting the day’s plans a little bit. By the time we circled the lake and gave Briony a chance to run out some energy in the playground, I was feeling a little bit better. Not great, but a little bit better. I emerged from the dark place called ‘I don’t think I can do this anymore’ and snuck one toe past the line into ‘I think I’m going to be okay.’

The constant headache sucks. So does the queasiness. Marilyn ventured out today to find me some more of God’s greatest gift to mankind (also known as Ginger Gravol). But my pain level is slowly starting to come down a little bit and hopefully we’ll see even more progress in the next couple of days. I told Geoff today that I'm not doing as well as I'd hoped, but it's under control enough that I can suck it up and muddle my way through tomorrow.

And just to keep everything interesting, I’m pretty sure that Briony is teething again, and we’ve been dealing with a fussier-than-usual baby during the last 36 hours or so... I’m praying that she wakes up happy and healthy and ready to be the BEST BABY EVER on the flight tomorrow.

We're just about finished packing (and we’re coming home with mostly clean laundry again, which I LOVE) - just a few last minute things to take care of *early* tomorrow morning. I made a grocery list for home and I'm just finishing up some decaf coffee + a cupcake... Oh, and an episode of Criminal Minds that I'd never seen before, if you can believe it. I am *so* looking forward to crawling into bed in a few minutes. It feels well-earned today.

I’m happier than usual to be coming home to Winnipeg (mostly because Geoff is there), but it’s always so sad to leave... I'm choosing to focus on how incredibly lucky we are to have two beautiful places in the world that are so very full of family and friends and LOVE.

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Friday, August 06, 2010

Friday Smile(s)

So many of my recent blog posts have been darkish, but we really have made time for fun and created some wonderful memories out here this week. So for my Friday Smile, I wanted to collect and document just a few of them.


On our Calgary to Vancouver flight last week, I ended up sitting in between my parents. I don’t know why, but it was hilarious to all of us - I felt like I was eight years old (but with a baby). A few days later, I found myself in the backseat of my parents’ rental car with Aaron + Cait and it was hilarious all over again.

Briony has been using ‘I love ___’ phrases for a while now, and she’s also been singing the ‘I love you’ line from Sharon, Lois + Bram’s song a lot lately. It was inevitable that the two would merge somehow... On this trip, we’ve been hearing her sing about loving just about everything under the sun, and it’s just as ridiculously cute today as the first time she did it. I can put up with just about any kind of tantrum if it’s followed up with an ‘I love Mama!’ song. SMART BABY.

On this trip, I was able to spend more time than usual with my sister-in-law Joanne. It’s such a strange thing to just be thrown into a family like I was. The first time I met Joanne, I was already wearing her baby brother’s engagement ring - and the next time we met was at our wedding. The time after that, I was five months pregnant. It was short, but we were able to run out for lunch on one day and we went shopping for part of an afternoon the next day. I don’t know why that made me as happy as it did, but it did and it was important to me. Geoff’s sisters don’t really feel like sisters to me, but I hope that I can somehow build friendships with each of them.

Briony’s been cooking up a storm... She plays obsessively with her little tea set at home, and she has a little kitchen with pots and pans here that she LOVES. At Ikea this week, I picked up some little pots and pans and cooking utensils as a surprise for when we get home - and some fabric fake food that she’s been playing with here already. She loves ‘cooking’ for us and serving us tea. ADORABLE. I only wish we had room for a little play kitchen in our house. Good thing she has a great imagination :)

Last Friday, Briony went with Marilyn to her exercise class in the seniors’ complex where they live. I didn’t go along, but I would have killed to be a fly on the wall... A fly with a video camera! The stories are hilarious, and the ladies who were there have been stopping us on our walks all week to rant and rave about my daughter. Apparently, they hardly got any exercising done because they were all so busy laughing at her.

On Monday, I was able to go see Jason + Amy for dinner, great talks, and the finale of The Bachelorette. We’re thinking of coming back this fall (not 100% sure yet) and they’ll be away then, so it was even more special to sneak in a bonus visit with them this time. I seriously hate that we don’t live in the same city.

Briony got a little haircut on this trip that no one is especially fond of (mostly her mom... hehe). I will admit that I’ve never liked a single haircut she’s had. I will also admit that this one - though flawed - has the potential to be super adorable when she has a headband on. But the problem with that plan is that BRIONY IS ONE. And seriously, YOU try keeping a headband on a one year old. Drama, drama, drama... SHUT UP. I totally have real problems too.

Last night, Rob + Vicky + Ava came out and it was so funny watching the girls together. Briony is so cautious around other kids, but eventually they were having lots of fun - even inventing a silly little game to play together and giggling like crazy over it. They’re expecting again in December, and it was fun to get to see Vicky, who’s starting to show a little bit and looking adorable. It was even more fun to unload some more of our baby stuff on them (hehe).

Um, have I mentioned how much Briony loves her cousins? SO CUTE. She was constantly looking for Hannah and David (‘DAY-bid’) while they were visiting, and she absolutely adores them. It’s kind of special that they’re older already and can recognize and give her the attention she’s wanting so badly from them. We missed seeing Sean, Ruth, and Libby on this trip, but it was awesome to get to spend some time with everyone else.

Have I mentioned that Aaron + Cait scheduled their move on Pride Parade day here in Vancouver? They totally did. And their new apartment is totally about half a block from the parade route. I could live to be 200 years old and still never forget how hilarious it was to be stuck at a red light with huge crowds of parade-goers parading (for lack of a better word) in front of the car where I sat with my dad, who was waiting as patiently as he could while men in tiny colourful briefs, topless women, and seven foot tall bearded transvestites in tiny glittery dresses meandered through the intersection. My dad was desperately trying to (a) bite his tongue, and (b) remain on schedule. I was desperately trying to (a) not pass out from laughing, and (b) remember that moment for the rest of my life.

Briony has been helping Marilyn water flowers (she received a little watering can as a gift from the neighbours here on our last visit). The only problem is that the one flower pot that’s the best height for her gets A LOT of water... I’m so scared that plant is going to die...

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Thursday, August 05, 2010

A Rather Tentative Resurrection of Optimism

So my first day on the new meds didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. The second day was a little bit worse. My side effects were more pronounced, and I even managed to pile on a couple of new ones. And my pain was more - which is obviously not really what we were going for.

I reacted strongly. I’m not entirely sure why, but I haven’t spent a lot of time dissecting it. Instead, I’m focusing on just embracing and honouring my emotions so that I can feel them and move on from here. It’s been intense - almost like I’m feeling all the disappointment of all my failed medications over the past two decades. It’s yucky stuff. But if it’s in there (and obviously it was), then it’s better and healthier to get it out.

I took some extra painkillers last night so that I could sleep - not a cure (not by a long shot), but it definitely helped and I finally got to sleep around 2 am. Briony decided to be a sweetheart and pulled an almost 15 hour night, so it turned out to be a decent amount of sleep for me, and I woke up in the morning still exhausted and in pain but ready to do something about this.

My family doctor (and his receptionist) totally failed me again. I called to ask him to phone in a prescription for my original drug out here in BC - as he had offered to do before we left. Apparently, they wouldn’t make an out-of-province call and claimed it was because they were unsure of other provinces’ protocols. I’m pretty sure it was just laziness. I ended up spending the morning at a walk-in clinic in Abbotsford and left quickly with the prescription I needed - easy as pie, other than giving up a half-day that could have been spent doing things that would have been much more fun.

I’ve started back on the original drug (and some stomach and ulcer meds that I had on hand) and hopefully it will be enough to get Briony + I safely home again this weekend.

In terms of what will happen next, I have no clue. I need to decide if I’ll give the new meds another shot (and the full two weeks required for them to show their true worth). And I’ll probably need a significant amount of help with Briony while Geoff is at work. I’m worrying about it a little bit, but I’m choosing not to panic because it always seems to come together. We are so very lucky to be surrounded by as much love and support as we are.

It’s been a rough summer. Not rough compared to plagues or natural disasters or even losing a loved one. But a bit of a tough go for a little family of three just trying to manage our everyday life together.

I’m tired. I’m hurting. My heart is heavy. I’m just waiting for this storm to pass.


Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Last Day

So the new arthritis meds are a big fat FAIL.

I can't talk about it right now. I had no idea just how much hope I had riding on them, and I'm devastated. I want to be a good mom again, and I was *so* hoping that these meds would allow me to do that. It feels like my heart is breaking, and the tears won't stop. Briony deserves so much better than this.

I'll be strong again tomorrow. For today, I just really need to cry.

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One More Day

A slight headache all day. A slightly queasy feeling in my stomach off and on. A definite feeling of dizziness, but nothing to panic about. A really strong metallic taste in my mouth (that - honestly - is making me want to binge eat so I can't taste it anymore). And more pain than I was expecting. That was Day One.

It's SO HARD to make medication decisions. Side effects can fade. It takes two weeks for the meds to be fully effective. And this is a marathon - with every side effect, I'm asking myself, 'Can I live with this indefinitely?'

Al I know - and all I really NEED to know - is that I made it through today. And I can do one more day tomorrow. The day after that is not today's concern.


The psychological war with illness is fought on two fronts, on the battlefield of the mind and in the depths of the heart. Emotional strength must be learned. I am a better person for that struggle. Attitude is a weapon of choice, endlessly worked... Self-pity is a poison. There is no time. I need a future and refuse to become a victim. Too often we become oblivious to our own prisons, taking the bars and high walls for granted. Sometimes we construct them ourselves, and the barbed wire goes up even higher. Too many of the limitations placed on us are an extension of our own timidity.
- Richard Cohen


Tuesday, August 03, 2010

In A Nutshell

Briony’s napping and I just went to go have a shower. In the safe little hiding place of a shower stall with the water running, I had a really good cry.

We’ve been out in BC for six days now and we’re here for four more. I miss Geoff like crazy, but I know absolutely that we are supposed to be here right now. The tears I cried today were tears of joy and relief over the support that Briony + I have had this week. I’m not in as much pain as I had feared I might be, but it’s worse that I had hoped for - does that make sense? I’m still very much in the middle of a flare, but we have the most incredible families who love us, and they are doing everything they can to help me get better.

We’re staying with Geoff’s parents, and right now his sister and two of her kids are here too. Briony is absolutely in love with all of them, and there are always extra arms to lift her into her booster seat, to load her into her car seat, to set up her stroller, to put her down for her nap... Incredible.

Thursday was our big travel day. We flew out here with my parents, who showed up early to bring us to the airport so I had two extra sets of hands to help with last-minute packing and getting Briony fed and out the door. Our first flight was delayed and then we had a layover in Calgary over lunchtime/naptime, and I don’t know how I would have done any of it without my parents there to help. We landed in Vancouver and picked up their rental car, then they dropped us off in Abbotsford at Geoff’s parents’ place.

Friday was a quiet day, and my primary focus was getting Briony settled in here before things got really crazy. I just need to pause and say that we really have the most incredible kid... We ask SO much of her, and she’s just amazing in her ability to adapt and be happy no matter what. She’s been sleeping like a champ out here - both for naps and at night. She has never once fussed when someone puts her in her playpen, and she has never once woken up during the night. I’m crying as I write this because I think that God knows absolutely what we can handle (and what we can’t).

I was MIA on Saturday and Sunday, meeting up with my parents to help Aaron + Cait make their big move from White Rock into downtown Vancouver. We worked so hard and had so much fun... I was able to have breakfast with Briony both days (and even snuck in a quick trip to the farmers’ market with Briony + Marilyn on Saturday morning) but otherwise she was left in my mother-in-law’s very capable hands. It sounds like they had a weekend full of giggles and grand adventures, and I’m happy they were able to spend that special time together.

So many stories about the move. Most of them to do with the fact that Aaron + Cait's new apartment building is about half a block from the literal epicentre of the Pride Weekend festivities - including the giant parade that happened on Moving Day. There are way too many to share here right now, but let's just say that I will never look at day-glo artificial feathers the same way again... hehe. The apartment itself is cozy and super cute, with giant windows that overlook English Bay - one of those views that makes you want to pinch yourself when you realize that people actually get to wake up and see that every day, not just on vacation. I think they'll be very, very happy there. It's absolutely perfect for them.

Geoff’s sister Joanne - along with Hannah + David - showed up in Abbotsford on Sunday night and are staying until tomorrow. It’s been really nice to spend some proper time with them, and especially to watch Briony interacting with her cousins. She LOVES her cousins. And they are so wonderful and patient with her. She absolutely adores Hannah and hangs on every word she says, and Briony + David invented a new game yesterday that involves a lot of chasing and scaring and she squeals in delight every time.

Yesterday was my ‘evening off’ on this trip, and I left Briony with Marilyn + Joanne to go have dinner with my friends Jason + Amy. We talked, laughed, ate, and watched the finale of The Bachelorette. It was such a good time.

The rest of the trip is going to be much quieter - and deliberately so, because today was the day I picked to switch onto new arthritis meds. It’s hard to tell how it’s going to go... My hips, back, neck, and shoulders are really bothering me today. But it’s also raining today, so I have no idea if it’s the meds or the weather (or both). I don’t feel quite as nauseated so far, and I have only had a very slight headache today - much better than the last meds (on those, I started out nauseated but had been full-on throwing up a few times over the last two weeks, and the headache was constant). Time will tell, I suppose.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t working full-time to shove down the feelings of panic every time I think about flying home alone with Briony on Saturday. I just need to trust that - even in this situation - God knows what I can handle.

And that pretty much brings us to today. I’m almost caught up on work, and even managed to read a few chapters in a new book last night that I’m thinking about continuing (with a cup of tea) in a few minutes. Briony + I have a playdate planned with Vicky + Ava on Thursday, otherwise our week is wide open with lots of time for relaxing, getting better, and gearing up for Saturday.

Despite all the pain I’m feeling - and the gloomy rainclouds outside - I’m feeling surprisingly optimistic. I just feel very taken care of - physically, emotionally, spiritually. I never in a thousand years would have chosen to be in this place right now with my arthritis and a toddler, but I also have this overwhelming feeling that it’s going to be okay. It might not happen exactly the way I choose, but it’s going to be okay.

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I'll try to blog tomorrow and catch you all up, but for now I need to ask for some quick prayers. Tomorrow morning is when I've chosen to switch to some new arthritis meds. It was originally supposed to happen the day before we came, but this seemed less risky... I have four and a half days to go before I'm flying home alone with a one year old, so this really needs to go well with no surprises. I need to know quickly if this is going to work or not so that we have time to make adjustments before Saturday if necessary. And I'm praying that it works because the side effects of my original meds are just about doing me in.


Monday, August 02, 2010

Monday Secret