Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Days of our Lives Christmas

Fans of the long-running soap opera Days of our Lives are familiar with the Horton family tradition of decorating their Christmas tree each year with homemade ornaments. But not just any ornaments... they're traditional glass ornaments with the names of each family member, past and present.

It's a beautiful tradition -- often set to a piece of serene background music used to calm the senses -- and it's meant to give you that warm and fuzzy feeling of which Christmas is all about.

While we don't exactly have matching ornaments such as those above, we have accumulated our own set of eclectic gems over the years. Some are homemade, and some were purchased abroad, but they all tell the story of a time gone by.



The pine cone Christmas tree that I made in 1st grade. It's falling apart, yet my mom kept it all these years.




The Santa baby that ALWAYS gets pulled off the tree by toddlers who visit.




My beloved Lindy, who left us in 2003.




My husband's hometown of Potsdam, New York.




From my first Caribbean cruise.




Purchased from a street vendor in Barbados.




From when I was single and going through my FDNY phase.




Paying homage to loved ones across the border.




The stadium from which my daughter received her middle name.




From my husband's previous profession....




...and from his current profession, as given to him by a student last Christmas.




The wolf given to me by my friend Louise when I was (fittingly) studying for my wildlife biology degree in university.




Purchased in Frankenmuth, Michigan.... "Our Father", as written in Italian.




And the figurines from our wedding year.

The photos above are a mere fraction of the ornaments and other Christmas paraphernalia that we've accumulated over the years. (So much so, that I've run out of space and can't put everything on display anymore!)

So share with me your stories of beloved Christmas decorations..... What have you collected over the years, and what story do they remind you of still today?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

To thank a veteren

Looking for at least 101 ways to thank a veteren? Then check out this post: MilitaryBlog.MilitaryAvenue.com

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dolphin rescues

In the spring of 2005, I joined the ranks of some of the world's few and was able to swim with a dolphin. It happened in Cozumel, Mexico, which was one of our cruise ship's ports of call. As you can see, I loved it and rate it among one of the coolest things I've been fortunate enough to try.



Since seeing The Cove, I'm now more aware of what actually happens to dolphins that are brought into captivity, though, and it really is a sad, sad tale.

This little one was rescued just a few days ago from a beach in Europe, where it's believed to have been injured in some fishing nets.


The accompanying articles on this photo offered little by way of details, so I'm left to wonder about the fate of this little one. Will it be rehabilitated and then kept to live in captivity? Or will it be released into the wild once more?

And what of its mother? Will it survive in the wild without her, even if introduced to another pod of dolphins?

Given that I attained my wildlife biology degree in land-locked Alberta, dolphins clearly aren't my area of expertise. But regardless of where this little one ends up, I hope that it goes on to live a long, happy life.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Even Oprah camps

In late September, my husband and I sat in on a seminar put on by a self-made millionaire. He was highly charismatic, keeping us entertained with anecdotes about why his wife is so happy and carefree (because she's rich, duh).

And he also helped us to put our lives into perspective by asking the question: Why do we live to work? We go around and around, working 9-5 jobs day in and day out, only looking forward to a two-week vacation each year.... and then we do it all over again.

Why?

An interesting question for sure, and it's caused much reflection in our household.

There was one statement he made, however, that didn't sit well with us at all. He took the stance that, "Only poor people go camping."

Sure, the financially strapped are more likely to camp for a weekend vs. staying at an all-inclusive resort, but to suggest that camping is a past-time of only the poor is being more than a little arrogant.

My husband and I are neither rich nor poor, yet we manage to "rough it" just as often as we spoil ourselves in the Caribbean each year.

Heck, even Oprah and her best friend Gayle King spent a weekend camping in Yosemite this year!

Hopefully their adventure served to inspire others (including the rich!) to take the plunge and rough it for at least a weekend each year. But the one thing Oprah warned viewers of is that camping really is A LOT of work.

Maybe that's why a certain someone is adamant about staying away.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ode to Pap

An estimated 500,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer worldwide each year, with nearly half of them actually succumbing to their illness. In August 2009, my friend Angie was one of those women.

Prior to her diagnosis, Angie was in the best shape of her life. She'd quit smoking in recent years and was finally down to a healthy weight. She also always made a point of having a Pap test done each year at her annual physical, so her diagnosis of advanced cervical cancer was a definite shock.

Specialists told her that the cancer cells may have developed shortly after her last test was done, or maybe they were present but so small during the exam that they went undetected. So despite her annual Pap test, Angie was essentially the victim of some bad luck.

Regardless of the unfortunate timing of Angie's exam, I still believe that annual Pap testing should be necessary during physical exams. And this is exactly why I was shocked to hear from my doctor today that the new recommendation is to only test once every three years.

Three years!

It took Angie less than a year to die from cervical cancer, but the new norm is to only test for it once every three years!

I expressed my concern about this to my doctor this morning, and, to her credit, she was more than willing to abide by my request to continue with the annual testing.

Granted, I come from the school of thought that preventive exams and testing should be mandatory, including full-body xrays and full-panel bloodwork, but still. Given that these tests are inclusive with my Canadian health care, why wouldn't I take full advantage and dabble in some preventive medicine?

After all, I assure you that the alternative -- chemotherapy, drugs, repeated testing, hospital stays, and, eventually, death -- would be far more costly.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Budgeting for baby

Picture it, my wedding day, 2007. My husband and I are making the rounds at the reception, greeting as many guests as possible as we make our way through the chaos that is our family and friends.



We're told that everyone is having a good time and that they all enjoyed the meal, etc, etc. All pretty standard banter..... until someone asks us about when we'll be having children. (Seriously, people, we'd only been married a few hours at that point!)

Our standard response for that night and for the two-plus years that followed was that we would not be having children until we could afford them.

To which many people scoffed, "If you wait to have kids until you can afford them, then you'll NEVER have them."

Ahem. Point taken.

Sure, we were warned about how our lives would change once we had a baby, but we didn't listen. Insistant that we would be exactly the same but with a new addition, we pressed on and had a baby anyway.

Thankfully, though, we did listen to all the stories of unforseen expenses involving child-rearing, which is exactly why we stuck by our guns and waited so long before even CONSIDERING the notion of parenthood.

But, given that I have an analytical mind and tend to thrive on structure and well-thought-out ideas, I do wish that I had done a little more research before pressing on.

Specifically, it wasn't enough for me to know that babies are expensive; I needed to know exactly what we'd be looking at in terms of dollars and cents.

So, here is what I wish someone had told me prior to having a baby......

The first-year expense for first-time parents?
A whopping $11,000. (And at the rate we're going, I feel as though I'm being conservative.)

Keep in mind that this total is for the first year alone, while on a reduced income due to maternity leave. Many financial experts estimate that it will cost the average middle-income family $250,000 to raise a child from birth to adulthood, all BEFORE the cost of post-secondary education.

It's difficult for me to imagine that far into the future, but it's definitely something we need to consider now, which is why we started making RESP contributions into our daughter's school fund the very month she was born.

Yes, we waited several years before having children and so we built up a nest egg that could help us with the early costs of raising a child..... but who knows what the future will bring? My husband is currently working two jobs so that we can once again fluff up our financial cushion..... although I have the feeling that we'll never reach a point where we'll be 100% worry-free.

Regardless, I think we're on the right track by planning for the future and investing as much as we can now.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Marina's View

One of the reasons my husband and I were so hesitant to become parents is because we have no clue about what it takes to raise a child into a healthy, functioning adult.

Sure, we look around all the time and find startling examples of what not to do and how not to handle certain situations, but it's easy to judge when you're not the one with the screaming infant. And depending on who you ask, everyone will tell you something different about what works and what doesn't.

But regardless of anyone else's views, the one issue my husband and I were adamant about was that Marina would not be allowed to watch television for the first two years of her life. If she needs some sort of entertainment, then that's what books and toys and playmates are for.

Should be an easy enough goal to accomplish, right?

Sure, if you live in a house with no television. Ahem.

The problem here is that, when I'm home alone with her during the day, I occasionally turn on the TV with the hopes of remembering what it's like in the real world. You know, outside these four walls that sometimes feel like a prison where I spend most of my time these days.

And although I never actually park Marina directly in front of the television, she's inevitably figured it out. As in, "Hey! What's that loud, bright, blinking box over there? Surely it was purchased with the sole purpose of entertaining ME. You know, like the bouncy chair and the play mat and the tummy-time surf board and....."

So what seems to be taking place more often these days is that, when the television is on and Marina is being fed, she'll PHYSICALLY TURN HER HEAD so that she can see the TV.

Yep, just the other week we enjoyed an episode of Mantracker together.

I keep telling myself that this has got to stop. I'm either going to do all her feedings in her bedroom on the rocking chair we purchased (yes, for her), or I'm simply going to turn off the TV. Seriously.

The last thing I want is for my bad habits to become Marina's bad habits. I hate that I sometimes have the television turned on even if I'm not watching it. Really, what's the point? Why waste electricity just to have it mindlessly blasting in the background for no one to see?

No one... except for Marina, that is.

The one talk show I do enjoy watching is Live with Regis and Kelly, but once that's over, The View begins. I've never been a fan of The View, but my hands are usually full with my daughter now and I just don't get the chance to change the channel (or turn it off) right away.

Which of course means that Marina is now watching The View, even if I'm not paying it any attention.
Just this morning the ladies were having a heated debate, talking all at once and yelling over one another -- this is something I hate, because I can't understand what they're saying anyway...... but Marina loved it.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck's perfect face came on screen, and Marina was smitten. She stopped eating and began smiling at the television..... and as the ladies' discussion became heated once again, Marina gleefully added her two cents by squeaking back at the TV screen.

Who needs toys, right?

Oy. That's it, the child needs to be cut off. No more watching television in front of her!

Except for maybe just Mantracker.

And Wipeout.

But that's it!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Weather woes

One year ago today I hauled my newly-pregnant self to the Running Room after work and took part in the practice run for the 5km clinic. Drenched in my own sweat from the unbearable heat, I nearly gave up and started walking half way through the course.

It was 32 C (90 F) that day.

Turn up your thermostats and fast forward 365 days to today, and I am decidedly NOT drenched in my own sweat.

Today's temperature was a freakishly cold 8 C (46 F).

The calendar tells me that it's still summer, but I'm not buying it.

I hate fall.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My 9/11 baby

For some unexplicable reason, whenever my husband and I hear that someone is expecting a baby, we automatically do the mental math to determine exactly when conception took place.

Oddly disturbing, I know.

It's not that we care to know the intimate details of other couples' lives, but rather it's their state of mind that intrigues us. As in, wow, it was at that time that year when they were so in love and so secure in their relationship that they decided to create new life.

At least that's how it was for us, anyway.

I'll spare you from having to do the math and just tell you that it was exactly one year ago that we opted to conceive a child. Unsure as to whether we actually even wanted to become parents, at age 31 we decided that it was now or never. If it took, great. But if not, then that was okay too. At least we could say we tried.... and then go on to live happily as DINKS, travelling the world without anything holding us back.

But, obviously, it took. And although Marina has been in our arms for 13 weeks and four days, she's officially existed with us for one full year.

Marina is our 9/11 baby, nine years later.

We actually feel guilty about how easy the whole thing was. With countless friends and relatives who struggled for years to conceive their first child -- and some who continue to struggle -- we didn't fully believe it would work. But from a genetic standpoint, we shouldn't have been so surprised with the end result.

With six kids in my husband's family and eight in mine, it's clear that we come from fertile stock!

We know there's more to it than simple genetics, but how else can we explain it? Maybe we're just lucky in that regard, or maybe it was just our time. Regardless, this past year has certainly been an exciting adventure, and each new day promises to bring more of the same.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Out standing in my field

As a general rule, I hate fall.

I hate the crispness in the air. I hate the increased traffic due to school being back in session. And I hate that I have to bundle up every time I plan an outing.

Most of all, I hate that summer is over and winter is threatening to rear its ugly head..... for the next 10 months.

There are, however, a couple of events that do make me appreciate this time of year:

Number one, Dancing with the Stars debuts again on September 20. (That's right, peeps -- get your spray tan on! Woot!)

And number two, CFCW radio brings back its regular "Meals in the Field" September promotion.

In short, because local farm families are busy bringing in the harvest during this time of year, CFCW will give them a break and supply them with a BBQ lunch, right out in their field.

A very cool* act indeed.

(*You know, much like the weather these days.....)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Reflecting on New Orleans

Gazing out the car window while driving from Alabama to Louisiana during the spring of 2006, it was impossible to miss the destruction left behind by Hurricane Katrina.

As we approached New Orleans, the frequency of abandoned cars on the interstate increased, and many homes appeared to have been vacated completely.



The image that really stayed with me was that of a home along the interstate in which the occupants were clearly forced to their roof during the flooding, and they painted the word "HELP" up top, which still remained all those months later.

Now, five years to the date after Katrina first hit, I wonder about those homes I saw that day.

Did the occupants return? (Or even survive?)
Has the paint been scrubbed clean?
Were the residents able to start their lives again?

It's sad, really, that although stories such as Hurricane Katrina are mainstays in the news during their peak, they then disappear from the headlines once more.... leaving us only with questions of, "Whatever happened to.....?"

Unless, of course, you live within the story's vicinity, in which case I'm sure there's no escape from the mental and emotional destruction that is left behind.

 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Secret admirers

Regular visitors to this city's  West Edmonton Mall will notice that the giant whale, which has been a staple here for several decades, is missing.

In its place today was a line up of mostly young women and their companions, waiting to be allowed entrance into the mall's newest vendor: Victoria's Secret.

Billed as the first* location to house a Victoria's Secret outside of the United States, West Edmonton Mall appears to be a perfect fit (pun intended) for this franchise.

And I, for one, couldn't be happier.

(* That's right, we beat out Toronto for this prestigious bragging right. We's classy, y'all!)



Gone are the days of only being able to purchase Victoria's Secret products while on a stateside vacation. And gone are the days of paying hefty shipping fees for my online purchases during times when I just couldn't wait to own yet another cleavage-enhancing bra.

Now I have the luxury of taking the 5-minute drive down the road and shopping in person for as long and as often as my budget allows.



Sunday, July 25, 2010

My Carrie wears sequins



The above cartoon ("Insects in the City: The final chapter") reads as follows:

Carrie purchases 80 pairs of heels and is squished while hailing a taxi.
While visiting Central Park, man-eating Samantha has the tables turned.
Charlotte meets her destiny near a Soho brownstone and suffocates.
Miranda checks into a motel in Tribeca and never checks out.

----
While working for a local newspaper several years ago, I became good friends with Carla, a brilliant freelance writer and fashionista who also happens to own every season of HBO's Sex and the City.

Shocked to hear that I'd never watched even a single episode of the hit series, she offered to loan me her DVDs so that I, too, could be among the world's most fashion-forward women.

While my wardrobe can still be considered mundane at best, Carla can at least declare that she successfully turned me and my husband into bonefide Sex and the City fanatics. (Yes, I forced him to watch with me at first, but now he'll voluntarily tune into its old reruns airing on the Cosmo channel.)

Like all good Sex and the City fans, I immediately began analyzing my own circle of female friends, trying to decipher who fit the mould of each of the show's main characters. And while I don't really know anyone who is exactly like each of the ladies on that show, one thing is for certain: Carla is my Carrie.

Those of us lucky enough to know her realize that she's warm, thoughtful, intelligent, and funny..... not to mention that she certainly has a fashion sense that would put Carrie Bradshaw herself to shame.


As mentioned in a previous entry, Carla recently relocated back to Ontario, which has left a noticeable void in my life.

With whom will I volunteer at the next summer marathon? Or stand in line with to catch the latest  "it" movie? Moreover, I'll probably never again get to pull over to respond to one of Carla's text messages, wondering where I am and why I'm late.

Unless, of course, she and Darcy decide to move back some time in the near future. That would be -- wait for it -- fabulous! 


(FYI - It turns out I'm most like the character of Miranda on Sex and the City. It's true. I took a quiz on the subject, and those quizzes are always accurate.)



Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Mummy Tummy (and other soft areas that no one needs to see)

"Jenny Craig be damned; I may breastfeed for life!"
- Carol (Dinah Manoff), Empty Nest



You know when you hear a line on TV or film that, for whatever reason, sticks with you forever? That can be said for me with the above phrase from the 1993-1994 season of Empty Nest.

The punchline of that segment was that Carol was burning so many calories while breastfeeding that she'd never have to diet again.

All these years I naively believed this to be true.

Fast forward 17 years, and here I am doing my best to feed Marina naturally and with the hopes of losing some of this baby weight as well -- but I have to tell you, the latter just isn't happening.

No word of a lie, the only weight I've lost is the actual weight of the baby plus some associated fluids.

The rest of the weight I gained has remained firmly implanted on my abdomen. And thighs, arms, butt, calves, and chest. And, oh yeah, you can see it in my face, too.

I've been this heavy before, but I worked my butt off, literally, to get down to a healthier size for my stature. That was seven years ago. I now find myself older and busier than ever, and the thought of having to lose all this weight for a second time just feels so daunting and overwhelming.

Where to start? I know it will be significantly more difficult to lose the weight this time around, but something needs to be done.

Do I join the Running Room again? Go to aquasize classes with Danielle? Bite the bullet and just get a gym membership again?

Or maybe I should just do all three?

My concern is that, with a newborn baby whose schedule is still erratic at best, my time is no longer my own, and it's difficult to set aside a specific time for myself each day.

I know it can be and has been done by other moms, though...... and so my question is this: How???

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Belated MLB predictions

I realize this post is three months overdue, but I made a prediction as to who will be this year's World Series Champion in baseball, and I'm only now getting around to blogging about it.

My pick for this year is -- wait for it -- the Boston Red Sox.

Now before you start calling me crazy and demanding to know from where I'm getting my information, allow me to make something clear: This prediction is based on neither science nor statistics, but, rather, on a hunch that I had earlier this year.

That's right. I said it. A hunch.

I have a little bit of a history when it comes to these hunches, dating back to October 2004 while I was in Ft. Drum, New York.

It was the middle of the Yankees/Red Sox series, and Boston was down by three games with NY looking to be a sure bet to advance.  
 
My then-beau and I were arguing about something, and since he was rooting for the Yankees in that series, I had to be spiteful and say something to the effect of, "Well, the Yankees are going to choke, you know, and Boston's going to go on to win the World Series."
 
He looked at me with that "you're just a naive little Canadian girl -- what do you know about baseball" look.

But instead of saying that to my face, what he actually said was: "If Boston wins the World Series.... then I'll marry you."
 
Ahem. The fool.

Don't you men know that you can't just throw out statements like that and not expect them to come back to haunt you for life??? I guess that learned him, as he is now Mr. Wildrose Jo.
 
So anyway, yeah, I wrinkled my nose a la Samantha on Bewitched and the Red Sox curse was broken.... after they made the biggest comeback in postseason MLB history. I'm awesome.
 
To top that off, I also predicted last season's NY Yankees win, long before they had advanced to the World Series itself.

So mark my words: Red Sox, 2010 World Series Champions.

Just remember that you heard it here first, folks.*

*Unless, of course, you put some money down on them to win, but then they actually tank it ...In which case I'm not to be held accountable for anyone's misfortunes. That's right. Not accountable!


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Baby Story

From my hairstylist who was put on bed rest three months before her baby was due, to the woman whose water broke while getting a bikini wax, everyone I know has a story about their pregnancy and subsequent labour. Here is mine.

 
Monday, June 7 - Went into the hospital to be induced, which, by the way, is extremely unpleasant. I'll spare you the gory details, but just know that I was induced and then sent me home to wait it out.
 
Tuesday, June 8 - Nothing happened overnight, so it was back to the hospital for another induction. But rather than going the internal route again, they instead opted to give me drugs via IV (yay!). By 2pm, nothing had really changed (further proof that my body just wasn't ready to be giving birth), so they went to the last possible option for induction and just manually broke my water for me. (Sorry -- too much info??) After that the contractions came very quickly and were so strong that I was asking for drugs almost immediately, haha.

*Sigh* Bring on the drugs, I say.

But guess what? After several hours of pushing, I had made no progress. As in, I was fully dilated, but my baby wasn't budging. The doctor said she was too big for me, so once again we went to the last resort and I ended up having a c-section. I was drifting in and out of consciousness the whole time, but I do remember being hugely relieved once it was all over.


Her name is Marina Shea... and yes, her middle name is courtesy of the New York Mets' former ballpark, Shea Stadium. *


* Shea has a nicer ring to it than their current ballpark, Citi Field. Plus, this is one time where I can be thankful my husband is not a diehard Yankees fan, otherwise I would have found some way to incorporate Jorge Posada in there. I enjoy him.... and I also enjoy saying the name "Jorge", lol. 


Anyway, if you deliver vaginally they release you from hospital the next day, but with c-sections you're kept in hospital for a while because of the surgery, so we didn't get released until Friday night, June 11.

As an aside, I now have a huge scar that even a seasoned veteran would be proud of. Twelve staples later, it looks like I have a huge happy face going across my lower abdomen. (Or a frowny face, depending on where you're standing, haha.)
 
It's been a trying week, to say the least. Unlike some lucky women, I've been having a difficult time breastfeeding and am producing more blood than milk. I thought things were still okay, though, until I was told Marina wasn't getting enough to eat. Naturally, I didn't take that very well.
 
This is what was said to me by one of the nurses: "All babies lose 7-10% of their birth wieight by day 10, but yours has lost 11% on day two."
 
And this is what I heard: "You're starving your baby and she's failing to thrive...... Worst. Mother. Ever."
 
Ha, ahem... okay, so I was a little emotional and didn't take the news well. It's just that she was so small and innocent and completely dependant on me, and I couldn't even provide her the most basic needs. Things are definitely getting better, though, and she's starting to make up what she initially lost.
 
Since being home, things have been really hectic. Because of the c-section, I'm not allowed to drive for six weeks and am limited on what I can do around the house. (Not that I have the energy to do much anyway, though!) Luckily, my husband will be off work for a few weeks this summer, so I'll have no shortage of assistance where this little girl is concerned.









And, lastly, wearing the pink camoflauge outfit that my husband proudly purchased at Supply Sergeant when we found out we were having a little girl.


Because all good soldier's daughters are required to wear pink camouflage.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Irritable me

If irritability is a sign that you're about to go into labour, then I should have given birth about a week ago.

Seriously, everything is getting on my nerves these days, and I have even less patience than what is considered normal for me.

First there was the tailgating jerk in traffic who nearly ran us off the road -- not an exaggeration -- because he clearly slept in and was late for work. Or something else equally lame. (I'm holding him accountable for all my homicidal thoughts in the last week.)

Then there's both my husband's employers, who have been the cause of a great amount of stress for us in the last four months: One for being negligent in their practices, thus causing decreased work and a decrease of $16,000 that we were counting on..... and the other for just not paying my husband what he's worth, period. (Not that we need the money or anything. After all, how expensive could a newborn baby be? Ahem.)

And speaking of negligent companies.......
Why hasn't anyone at Duraguard Fence Ltd. e-mailed me back? 
What's taking Sears so long to get our vacuum back to us? 
Why didn't Mayfield Toyota send me the 6-month reminder about my car?
Why does Visa make you jump through hoops when you call them only to find out your account balance? (Do they want their payment or not?? Talk about a useless phone service.....) 

Then there's the fact that the weather has been so nice, but I'm not allowed to go for walks or anything because I've been put on bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. (Our poor dog just lays there staring at me, wondering why I all of a sudden got so lazy and am refusing to take him on his usual journey.)

Speaking of being bored out of my mind while on bed rest, how is it that we can have so many channels available to us on Digital TV, and yet there still isn't anything on that's worth watching?? (And don't even get me started on how annoyed I am with Shaw for removing the PBS feed out of Detroit....)
 
I'm also irritated by the fact that I can't tell the difference between a baby moving inside of me vs. a contraction. Moreover, I'm annoyed when people look at me quizically and ask, "How can you not tell the difference??"

But the whopper of all questions that is irritating me to no end these days? "Why haven't you given birth yet??"

[Sigh. Taking a deep breath and slowly counting to 10, trying to dispel all of my aforementioned homicidal thoughts......]



 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ontario beckons

I just found out that another good friend of mine is moving back to Ontario -- and it's completely bummed me out!

First Stef and Andrew jumped ship and are getting ready to leave this week so that she can attend school out east, and now Carla and Darcy are moving back at the end of June because of a job offer he received.

And while I'm happy for both couples and the opportunities that await them, I'm very sad that they're leaving.

(How could they not have first consulted with me before making the big decision?? Ahem.)

---
For some enjoyable reading, you can check out Carla's blog here.






 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Today in sports history

You know you're old when you remember very clearly that today is the 20th anniversary of the Edmonton Oilers' 5th Stanley Cup win....!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sick as a dog

Having worked in a veterinary hospital for 5 1/2 years after I completed university, I'm all too familiar with "high-maintenance pet owners" -- and I'm also fully aware of the fact that I happen to be one myself. 

Normally I curse all the snow, but for once it served an important purpose for us: we noticed a few weeks ago that our geriatric dog had some blood in his urine, and it would have gone undetected if not for us seeing it on the snow.

Long story short, he had bladder stones and needed immediate surgery to have them removed. 
 
The surgery was this past Monday, but he then had to spend three nights at the emergency clinic because he was having some difficulty with his recovery. (The 3-hour surgery took a lot out of the little guy.) Having to walk away from him so the doctors could treat him was the hardest thing to do -- he was scared and alone and in pain, and I would have given anything to have been the one going through all that instead of him. 

Honestly, I thought he was going to die alone that night, so you can imagine that I was a bit of a wreck.

(I wish I could say that it was all these pregnancy hormones causing me to be so emotional, but no. That's just how I am.)

By some miracle, he started to improve overnight.... and when we visited him at 6am the next morning, not only was he on his feet, but he was actually walking again. Total 180-degree change from the night before when he was flat out and his heart rate was really slow.

So, yeah, Tuesday was a good day.
 
He had to stay at the emergency clinic and receive continued care, though, because he was on fluids and had a urinary catheter in place, but overall he continued to improve each day. We got to bring him home on Thursday, and it was the greatest day ever. He was so happy, yet so tuckered out that he lay down on the couch and snored for like an hour, haha.

Yes, I think it's so cute when dogs snore.... 
 
To see him now, he appears to be doing great. The only thing is that his bladder is still very fragile, and there's the risk that the incision will leak if it gets too full. That would be disastrous, so we have to take him out every 2-3 hours..... which means we have to get up through the night and carry him out, whether he likes it or not.

(He gives us that, "WTF... I was sleeping, you know" look whenever we haul him out.) 
 
Overall, though, he's doing really well. And lucky for us he doesn't hold grudges and has completely forgiven us for everything he went through this past week.

And -- in case there was any doubt -- yes, he's being totally spoiled now and is living like a king.

Below is a photo of him in hospital. Notice that he was still happy to see us, even though he was forced to wear the Cone of Shame.

Monday, March 8, 2010

At least those calories won't count....

With only three months to go in this pregnancy, how is it that I still occasionally get sick after having eaten a meal?

Moreover, why is it that my body only rejects healthy food in the morning (read: a homemade fruit smoothie) but will tolerate the bad (read: leftover Chinese food)?

Ha, must be proof that this child won't fall far from that proverbial tree.....

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Weight Watchers meets McDonalds

Oh, the drama.

Weight Watchers message boards are all a-buzz today since it was announced that New Zealand's McDonalds chain will now be joining forces with them and advertising the WW Points values of some of their menu items.

The die hards out there are arguing that Weight Watchers has sold out by associating themselves with this fast food chain, but I personally think it's a brilliant move, and I hope the trend spreads to Canada.

You see, every six months or so I force myself to go online and print out the updated  nutritional information from some of the eateries I regularly frequent.... and then I pull out my trusty WW Points calculator, meticulously determining which foods are potential heart attack inducers vs. which ones can be consumed in small doses.

And now New Zealand's McDonalds are doing all the work for us! How wonderful!

(I know that Applebees in the US also has a Weight Watchers menu -- good for them!!)

Weight Watchers has long maintained that they're not a "diet" industry and that you really can eat whatever you want on their plans -- you just have to be aware of how bad some foods (and portion sizes) are for you so that you don't over do it. 

So what's so wrong with McDonalds highlighting that info for you?

It's so easy to look at a McNugget and think, "Oh, they're so small. They can't be THAT bad for me, can they?" Now New Zealanders will no longer be in the dark about what they're consuming.

Think about it -- if you go into their restaurant and see that a Mc-something-or-the-other is outrageously high in points, well, maybe you'll decide on eating something else instead. Or maybe you'll only eat half and then go for a jog.

Either way, the customer wins by being informed.

 

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Olympic withdrawal?

Am I the only one who is already feeling Olympic withdrawal?

Technically the games are still on, but the Closing Ceremonies will commence as soon as this gold-medal hockey game is complete -- and I'm already feeling blue about this.

And you know what I'll miss the most this time around?? The commercials. Especially the ones involving Morgan Freeman endorsing that credit card company, haha.

Seriously, that guy could read me the phone book, and I would still be riveted.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Dear John reinvented

Nicholas Sparks's novel Dear John is one of my favourite books, and for the last year I've been anxiously awaiting the release of its movie equivalent in theatres. That finally took place earlier this month, and my friend Carla and I made a date to see it earlier today.

(You know, because we're both Nicholas Sparks junkies and all. Seriously.)

For the most part, I loved the film and was moved by many of it's scenes, just as I was by the book, but there were a few small differences to note:


- John is a US Marine in the book, whereas the movie version made him a Special Forces soldier in the US Army.

- The book describes Savannah as a brunette, but she's portrayed by blonde-haired beauty Amanda Seyfried in the film.

- Alan is Tim's brother in the book, not his son as the movie suggests.


There are a few other differences between the two formats and, as I indicated, they really are very minor -- except for one thing.

They changed the ending.

I realize that the movie versions of our favourite novels can never fully depict every little detail that we've come to appreciate in print..... but is it really necessary to alter the endings simply to suit Hollywood's preferences?

I really did love this movie, just as I loved the book, but the altered ending did leave me feeling a little betrayed.

---

Note: The casting of Channing Tatum as John and Richard Jenkins as his father was a brilliant move. They were both perfect for these roles. Check out the trailer below.....


 

 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

They had me at coconut rice

You may remember last summer when I gushed on here about how much I love everything to do with the Gamelan Grill  -- but, sadly, the restaurant closed its doors shortly after I submitted that post.

Oy, it's like I put a hex on them or something!

Since then, I've been desperately hunting for another restaurant that serves quality coconut rice, and I've had some luck with both the Rice Bowl Express and Tropika Malaysian & Thai Cuisine.

And, as of last night, I now have one more go-to place in which to attain my rice fix.

Some friends of ours (Hi Andrew & Stef!) invited us to dinner weeks ago, and we were finally able to join them for Thai food at the King and I restaurant last evening. It's pricier than most of the places where we would normally frequent, but we still had a great time for our once-in-a-blue-moon outing.

Stef had gushed about their coconut rice from the start, and it certainly didn't disappoint. Seriously, I would have been blissfully content to just sit there with nothing but a bucket o'rice.

(Okay, that and the banana-chocolate-ice cream-crepe dessert in which I also over-indulged. Ahem.)

Is it wrong that I could go for more coconut rice today??

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Yankee conformist

For the four seasons that it was on the air, The Unit was my favourite show. But as a general rule, my husband turns up his nose at all military-themed television dramas, and so he usually refused to watch it with me.

In his defense, after having served in the U.S. Army, he has a hard time accepting dramatized military television shows and will go out of his way to find flaws in their dialogue and techniques. That, and The Unit specifically featured an army Special Forces team..... and my husband "hated those guys" when in combat. (His words, not mine -- so, yeah, this is personal.)

But regardless of his own feelings towards The Unit, my husband was selfless enough to buy me the Season One DVD Box Set several years ago and has continued to support my fanatic tendencies as I've added to this collection over the years.

And, at long last, he finally caved in and agreed to watch the entire series with me from start to finish.

We haven't completed it yet because, really, who has the time to just sit and watch TV for that long of a stretch? But from what he's seen so far, there's no denying that my husband is now a fan of The Unit.

And, yes, I totally rub it in at every opportunity. ("UNIT LOVER...!!" is what I often shout while pointing at him and glaring with my all-knowing stare.)



Along those same lines, my husband has also been unabashedly anti-Olympics. I never thought such a creature existed, but then I went and married him.

I could understand his disdain for dramatized military TV, but the Olympics? Seriously? Who could hate something as wonderful and inspiring as the Olympics??

Back in 2008 when Beijing hosted the summer games, I was refrained from watching the Opening Ceremonies in favour of something else (probably Family Guy), and I've been a little bitter ever since. So this year, given that Canada is hosting the winter games in Vancouver, I was adamant that we watch the Opening Ceremonies live and in its entirety.

Yes, I really am that cruel.

But guess what? He actually enjoyed himself. Sure, the ceremonies dragged on and on, but he still got into it and barely complained at all. (Okay, that's kind of a lie. He made fun of its artsiness and failed-hydraulic pumps during the torch lighting, but still. I applaud his willingness to give the games a chance.)

Moreover, he's even gotten into some of the events with me, specifically the freestyle moguls and longtrack speedskating competitions. Sure, he only really likes the games when someone wipes out in a spectacular crash ("Come on, I'm a DUDE. That's why I watch NASCAR, too. It's only for the crashes."), but at least he's taken an interest in this with me.

And serving as the true indicator that he's moved over to the dark side with the rest of us is Facebook, specifically his status updates, which have all been Olympic-themed since the Games began on Friday.

Come on, get your pointer fingers and extended arms ready so you can say it with me: "OLYMPIC LOVER...!!"

At long last, the Yankee has conformed.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Feel-good posting

Depending on what article you read, many in the media will have you believe that, statistically speaking, today is the most depressing day of the year.

Someone actually did the research, taking into account that there's little to look forward to right now, what with Christmas and New Year's already nearly a month past and having left us with nothing but the credit card bills.

And while it seems like I always have something to complain about, I'm instead going to turn today around and dedicate this post to things that make me happy...


Happy Post #1 - SmallMouth04 doing a cover of Eric Church's Carolina



While I've already expressed my love for Jamey Johnson, Eric Chruch is another of my favourites who just doesn't get the recognition or radio-play he deserves. But it is reassuring to know that there are others who appreciate his music like I do. (So much so, that they're more than happy to post videos of themselves performing Eric Church's music......)


Happy Post #2 - Real Housewives of Orange County


I know I've mentioned it before, but it's worth repeating: this show actually makes me feel better about myself. Sort of.

There are times when the behaviour of these women and the people around them just infuriates me...... but, overall, I walk away from this show with an overwhelming urge to improve myself.

(I know I'll never look like any of them, and I'll never have the financial freedom that they enjoy, but at least they give me something to aim for!)


Happy Post #3 - Zac Brown Band



Their current release is Highway 20 Ride, which is a beautifully touching song and video, but their video for Toes will always crack me up. I love that these guys don't always take themselves too seriously.


Happy Post #4 - Russell Hantz from Survivor

I know. I know!

This man comes across as a total jerk with an overflowing barrel of arrogance to boot, and yet I find him so highly entertaining.


It's a bizarre phenomenom, really. In real life, I would hate this guy. But on Survivor? I was rooting for him to win it all, and I'm thrilled to know that he'll be back in a few weeks for the next Survivor installment.

*Sigh* It must be the southern accent that makes his jack ass-tendencies seem charming.


Happy Post #4 - Laughing babies



I DARE YOU to not laugh while watching this video!


Happy Post #5 - Winter is almost over

It's TRUE! With January winding down, that means we only have two months left of bitter snow and cold to endure before we can once again go outdoors without bundling up.

Now THAT is something we can all look forward to.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

To smile or not

My husband and I purchased a house last month and, given that I had to visit a Registries office today to renew my vehicle registration, I thought it the perfect time to update our address info on our driver's licenses as well.


Except for the fact that they required me to take another picture.

Why? Because I'm smiling in my current license photo, which is now something that is, uhhh, frowned upon.

Upon hearing this news, I refused to update my license today and will instead have to go back to do so on a later date. You know, when I've actually brushed my hair. (In my defense, we had just come from a morning run... in the cold wind and snow.... where I was wearing a toque but no make-up.....)

Bleh.

But what really gets me is that people can drastically change their appearances via a new hairstyle or colour ....or by gaining/losing weight ....or getting botox injections or a nose job and growing unruly amounts of facial hair so that they look nothing like their driver's license or passport photos..... but good Lord, if I smile in my photo, apparently no one will recognize me!

Where is the logic in that??

My husband argues that this is Big Brother's way of maintaining some sort of control over us. They can't do anything about me colouring my hair, so they'll instead enforce that we all be equal in our facial expressions.

Lame.

Now I'm tempted to wait until I've delivered and have lost all this baby weight before updating my photo..... but of course I can't because the law says I need to do this within 14 days of moving.

But, seriously, do I really want to have this look imortalized on my license for the next several years??

If I can't smile, I guess I'll be giving them a smirk instead.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Meet Defiant

After much anticipation, I finally had a thorough abdominal ultrasound done today.

The last few months have been stressful, simply because I'm convinced that I'm already the worst mother ever and that I'm doing everything wrong during this pregnancy. ("What do you mean I'm not supposed to be eating bacon??")

I'm sure I drove the ultrasound tech crazy; right off the bat she told me she was just taking pictures and couldn't comment on anything, so if I have concerns I'll have to wait to talk to the doctor after the results are in.

Right. Like I have the patience to wait four days before asking any questions, haha.

So during the procedure I was just laying there, trying to read her face for some sort of reaction toward what she saw.... but she was expressionless.

So of course I started asking some stuff, you know, all casual and whatever..... and she wouldn't budge. She was so sweet and so patient with me, and all she would say was, "That's a really good question..... for your doctor."

I thought I could break her, but it just didn't work.

I admit I was also disappointed today because we weren't able to determine the gender. It appears that I'm carrying a very uncooperative child who was barely moving at all during the scan -- and although that was good for taking pictures/measurements of it's organs, it didn't allow us any view to indicate whether it's a boy or girl. (But I'm convinced it's a boy..... just a hunch I have.)

But for now I'm calling it Defiant, which is a nice gender-neutral name.

(Seriously, doesn't this kid realize who it's mother is?? I don't think I can go on referring to it as an "it" until June.....)