Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Photos of Christmas Past

I did this post originally back in 2011. Yesterday it came up in my FB memories feed. I decided to dust this off from the archives and add the next 4 years. Just for fun!

Here is what I originally wrote:

2006 was a tough year though, I spent a good hour searching for that photo alone. The Christmas card said "All the best for 2007". Naturally I assumed the picture was for Christmas 2007. Don't ask.

So without further ado, here are the last 9 13 or so Christmases because I got nothing, nada, zilch for 2001, the first year we were a family. Also, you will have to bear with my snide comments because, well, I am me, I can't rightly help it.

And yes, my scanner is of the "I am so tight I squeek when I walk" genre. It's not your eyes.

2002 - My hair. Definitely in the "What the HELL were you thinking category". And my fashion sense. Or rather complete and utter lack of it. A t-shirt? So glad I dressed up for family pictures.

2003 - Jack, would it kill you to smile?The cute is still killing me. The chub. The mini-professor glasses.


2004 - we grew by one cheeky little man who was at the time, often referred to as "my LITTLE baby guy". You have to imagine this said in the most high pitched annoying voice in the history of voices used to talk to babies. That's how I do it over here. Breaking glass and all.

Xmas Card 2005

2005 - the first of the singing snowmen that started the collection. (2015 update: he is still around though has seen some wear and tear. He no longer can tip his hat. Too much love from the boys over the years). Apparently I didn't like to be in photographs. I mean, can you blame me after 2002's fiasco?


2006 - Before I found the family shot from 2006, I was going to use this one and because they are so damn cute, it's actually hurting my eyes, I am leaving it in. Completely unrelated: oh the patch, how we don't miss you.(2015 - oh those cute boys...sigh. I miss them a little.)


Then I found it. The were bells ringing when I did, I promise you. The elusive 2006 Christmas card photo. Why I have a digital copy, I have no idea. Credit goes to Snaptshots Photography. This photo I actually love and we redid them a year later. I have a family shot, a shot of the boys and a shot of Jay and I hanging in tall skinny frames over our living room couch. I love them still. (2015 - they survived the great living room reno of 2015 and are still hanging in our living room).

2006 also marks the year I got with the whole "family" picture thing. You know, sending out a photo with the Christmas that included all four of us rather than just the boys.

I have continued that tradition since and I am so glad because, well, it's just nice to have them, you know?


2007 - no snide comment for this one, I still love it. Fall is such a great backdrop.

Xmas 2008

2008 - the photo I sent out with cards this year eludes me too but I found this shot. Aside from the alien lighting, it's all good. (2015: What is with the shape of that tree?!)

2009 - the family

2009 - this is still my favourite (of the ones I have taken). I just love it. (2015 - it still might be my all time favourite).

Xmas Photo 2010

2010 - The sun? It does not go behind the camera. When you look this up in a photography manual (is there even such a thing? If so, I need it. Clearly) this photo is the exhibit demonstrating why.

Xmas Card 2011 Photo

2011 -Cute boys. Adults scrunching. Again, all good. At least we are all in a photo together.


2012 is gone. As in, the folder for that photo shoot is gone. I can't find it anywhere. Thank goodness I have printed paper old school photo books and an iPhone.

2013 we did these in Saskatoon and also did some in Regina with a friend who wanted to practice. I love them both.


And the theme is family pictures in the fall. I guess it's the prettiest and most photogenic season.

2014 we did some in Saskatoon with my family. Again in the fall because the leaves, of course.

And this year we again did fall pictures but it was the nicest fall we have had in years and it was more like summer the day we did our photos. No self-depreciating comments on my expanded girth. I am working on this.


And we took this one yesterday right before we opened gifts as a family before our Christmas travels to visit family begin.

Merry Christmas everyone, may the joy of the season surround you!

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Fourty: The year the beep hit the fan

I have heard that once you hit 40, that's when the s__t hits the fan.  I guess it's true because it's been quite a year. Probably one of the hardest I have been through. I am grateful to have gone through it though because I learned more than I care to admit.

I am over nine months out from the start of the trouble and only just now ready to put my thoughts down into words.  I have been open and honest about it all with my family and friends because that is just how I am wired. I can't pretend or lie very well. I am finally ready to share it here.

In mid-December 2014, I started having trouble sleeping. First it was waking up in the middle of the night and not going back to sleep for hours and then it morphed into barely sleeping at all. After a couple of weeks, I was a disaster. I have always needed 8-9 solid hours of hard core sleep. I love sleep. I am a champion sleeper.  Trouble sleeping, what the what?  It's never lasted for long when I have had the odd bad night and then it was always easily attributed to some stress factor I was conscious of.

By the last week of school before Christmas, I was having anxiety.  That's fun.  I have never experienced true anxiety. It's not mental. Nope. It's a full blown physical chain of events that comes and goes almost randomly.  Of course by this time, due to the lack of sleep, I was but a shell of my former self.

My doctor subscribed sleeping pills. Like as in the ones that you can get addicted to. I didn't care at that point, just knock me out for all that is good and holy in the world.

I took the first one and slept for....a whole hour.  Mother trucker. Now what? She told me to I could take up to two. So I popped another. Great, another whole effing hour of sleep. And then I tossed and turned and went down to the spare bed and back up to our bed and maybe slept another hour in total and not consecutive. The best part? Almost falling asleep and twitching so hard I woke myself up only to have to start all over. Good times, I tell you, good times.

It was one of my own personal  hells. There are many. Another involves spiders, as in tarantulas. I could go on but for the sake of preventing nightmares, I'll stop there.

By this point the anxiety was 99% related to sleep. Will I finally sleep tonight? OMG what if I don't sleep tonight? What if I die of lack of sleep?  (yes, it was all completely logical and well thought out can't you tell?)

Two days later and a day before we were heading to visit family for Christmas, I was done. I was having full blown anxiety the whole day through, not sleeping and basically a basket case. It was a Sunday I think so I had to go to a mediclinic rather than my family doctor. At this point, I needed some way to control the anxiety so that I could hopefully have more success with the sleeping pills.

I was prescribed an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety drug.  Stop for a minute. That was heavy. How did it come to this? HOW?  A phrase I uttered often was "why is this happening to me?".

The kicker? It takes 2-3 months to take effect. Awesome. He also suggested I see a psychologist. Luckily enough I got in the next day and right before we left for Christmas.

She was great and she provided me with some podcasts that were supposed to relax me.
I listened to one in the car on the way to Saskatoon and finally was able to relax.

Later that night, as I talked with my parents, the anxiety ramped up again. It was always worse in the evening. I go into the bedroom and listen to the podcast and proceed to have an awesome panic attack. 

Let's just stop right and here and point out that my mom was my rock at this point. I was like a child again and wanted my mom to fix this. She wanted to fix it too. I am sure it was really hard for everyone to see me like this. It wasn't me.

The next morning after yet another crappy night of little to no sleep, my mom calls my brother and they are brainstorming. He is a pharmacist and finally suggests that maybe it's my thyroid acting up. At this point, no one especially me, could consider anything other than a physical issue.  Off my mom and I go to the ER because it's the week of Christmas and I am not in my home city so the family doctor is not an option.

After a very long wait that involved me losing my shit after the doctor came to see a girl that had stubbed her toe (I kid you not - who goes to the ER for that?!) before me.  I was a mess. I wanted help and so I lost it when this occurred right in front of me - in the waiting room - a whole other story. The resident asks me if I am okay as I am sobbing in the middle of a busy waiting room. No, I said, I am NOT okay, that is why I am here. Can I please be seen?!

The solution? To give me effing Ativan. At this point they could have shot me up with heroin. If it would make me sleep, I would have done it. The doctor makes us wait another two hours because she wanted to see if the Ativan could calm me down. No it actually didn't, I am a logical person who had a tantrum to try and get action and I calmed down on my own.  She then tells me she won't test my thyroid because she can't treat it anyway and I should not be taking the sleeping pills but should be taking Ativan and sends me home.

She was lovely, in an I don't want to deal with you, you have a mental issue and I wash my hands of you, just go home and sleep kind of way. Merry Christmas to you too, lady.

So at bedtime that night, I take the Ativan as lovely doctor beyatch prescribed and after a half hour of practically hyperventilating go out of the bedroom and my mom takes one look at me and we head to a different ER. Ativan was not at all helpful, to say the least.

We had a much better doctor. He tested my thyroid even though he was 99% certain it wasn't the issue. It wasn't but at least knowing that the test showed that, I had some closure.  He also suggested taking both sleeping pills at the same time. I had not idea I could.

Mom had me pop them in the car before we drove back out to their place (25 min drive give or take). I was out like a light and mom had the pleasure of escorting a rather inebriated adult daughter into the house. It was comical. I reached for something and fell over.  You have to laugh at these times.

Christmas was a blur. While taking two at once helped, it was not the final solution. I spent Christmas Day in bed resting because by this point, I had absolutely no energy to even sit upright.  We then headed off to Kimberly, BC for a ski trip after Christmas and I loved the car ride. It put me right to sleep! Once we got home, I was able to see my family doctor and she finally got me on the right mix of anti-anxiety meds to get me sleeping through the night (can you say, triple the normal dose!).  It took me weeks before I felt "normal" again (ie no anxiety) with weekly visits to the doctor to check in.

Fast forward 9 months and I have been through the process of weaning off the sleeping pills (huzzah!) and have cut the dose on one of the anti-anxiety drugs to 1/6 the original dose. The side effect of that drug, 20lb weight gain thankyouverymuch.

So. The moral of the story is that all of this was caused by stress. Did I feel stressed? No. Not at all. I had it all under control. I  knew how to manage the demands of being on call 24/7 for my job. I prioritized! I was confident none of this was stress related for a long time.

I had to finally break down and admit that it had to be stress. There was no other reason. Thankfully changes were easily made to my job to cut my stress by half or more.  I am so lucky to work with the organization I work with. They are so great to me.

I also had to make some significant changes in my personal life. I had to give up my one personal training client. That was hard. Really hard. I cried that day. I was pretty proud of my accomplishment and the fact that I could by dynamic enough to have my accounting career and a side gig as a PT. But I did learn my lesson. And I really do think that this had to happen for me to learn.  It was hard but without having gone through this much hell, I don't really think I would have admitted to myself that my life was not manageable as it was. 

The other huge change that is still a huge work in progress is my self body image. Gaining 20lbs will put that in perspective in a damn hurry I tell you.  This is me last summer when I decided to get "serious" about my fitness:

  Can you see why I needed this slap in the face?  What in the hell did I think was wrong with how I looked? That day, I could have given you a list of at least 10 things. Today? Not a one.

Like I said, 20lbs will put that in perspective in a damn hurry. I will not likely ever look like that again. I still wasn't happy so why why why?!

Right now I work out because I enjoy it, I feel strong and fit and because I am good enough just as I am right now at this very moment not when I lose the 20lbs. Okay, I gotta be honest. I would at least like to get close to where I was in that picture above. But I am working on that because as I compare these two photos, I wonder if there is really that much of a difference. I see a huge difference but I am biased and skewed.

I have been reading the book that the founder of GoodLife Fitness wrote. His mantra is "Good enough is good enough".  I was searching for perfection and it ended up with me in the ER having a tantrum like a child. I don't need perfection. I need a body that can live my life and I already have that. 

I am good enough.

Monday, October 06, 2014

I know

The other night I was The Biggest Loser and one of the contestants brought up how guilty he felt that he hadn't had one more chance to tell his mom that he loved her before she passed away.

My immediate reaction was, she knew.

I have two sons.

One says "I love you" every single day, sometime multiple times a day. The other has only said it on a handful of occasions. 

Do I think one son loves me more than the other?

Absolutely not. Hell to the no. And that is absurd.

I tell all three of my boys that I love them on a daily basis. It's just how I am.

Verbalizing it is how I express it to them. However, it is by no means the only way.

My boys show me they love me in so many ways.

When they give me an unsolicited hug.
Or a solicited one for that matter. They are boys and they are at an age where hugs are not necessarily cool.

When they need me to comfort them in some way. You could argue that is their need and not their love but if they didn't love and appreciate me, would they even want my comfort? I don't think so.

When they come home from school or a friend's house and they can't wait to tell me something. Or in Jack's case, he can't wait to avoid my questions with general answers. They may be great kids but they are by no means perfect.

When they wave from the sidewalk as they head off to school. Or give me the peace sign, in Kamden's case. It's our thing. 

When they clean toilets. This might be #1 on the list.

When they smile at me.

It's the simple things really.

And in that moment watching that grown son worry that his mom didn't know, I wanted to tell him, she knew.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

This post has no name

After I posted last week, I instituted a new approach to help Kamden with his anxiety. I completely stole it from someone I follow on Instagram.  She's kind of famous and kind of like someone popular in high school (except that she seems like a very nice person) that I admire from afar. 

Anyway, it appears that they use a reward system to help fight anxiety. It got me to thinking. I was taking the approach that this was out of Kamden's control. What if we turned this around and taught him that he has some control over this?


This was after we made a decision, a hard one, to have him miss his best buddy's birthday party because it involved seeing the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. He knew it would haunt him at bedtime, the bad guys, the fighting, etc. It wasn't an easy decision but we thought if we could avoid adding to his anxiety, it was the right decision.

So what did he worry about that night instead? That his friend would be upset that he didn't come to the party. *facepalm*

(Exhibit A: found on my phone - goofball)

I may or many not have lost my s--t at that point. My conclusion was that he was going to worry no matter what. I mean, sometimes he is just anxious about being anxious, for goodness sake.  

That's it, we have to take the power away from the anxiety. He had to take control.  So what better way to have a kid take control than by providing a reward? We must use a language that speaks to them. That in itself is a sad state of affairs but that's another post. I may write it too....helicopter parenting is failing us. I work with the adults it creates. Be afraid. Be very afraid.


We are now over two weeks into the reward.  It's $5 a night. His anxiety always hits at bedtime complete with dizziness and a look on his face, not unlike the one below, no wait that his deadpan look, not quite the same.

He gets $5 for every night he can fight the anxiety and go to sleep without excessive worry.  The "worry" involves coming into our room after we have all gone to bed upset about the anxiety du jour - examples include but are not limited to:  he has a major health problem (the same night he ran for two hours straight at football practice....um no, you are fine), something will happen to Mom and Dad (we are good dude, no worries), scary noises in his room (house shifting, car doors outside etc), school (pick random worry and insert here) etc.... lather, rinse, repeat.


(we ran a 5 km race a bit back, at least we ran some of it)

It was something new every night. Oh yeah, then there was my epic parenting fail.  EPIC.  It's possible this entire anxiety thing could be blamed on me.

I shouldn't even write about it here. Maybe. Oh what the hell. It's sort of funny. In a I suck as a mom kind of way.

This summer, we lost Jay's dad.  It was sudden and it hit Kamden pretty hard. He hasn't dealt with death yet in his young life except when my cat died and my parents dog which I think we can all agree is not quite the same thing.

One day, he came down while I was working to relay something that happened that he couldn't figure out. He was putting the stuffed animals he sleeps with back into his bed before he made it one morning. He grabbed one, leaving the other at the end of the bed. When he turned back around to grab the last one, it was gone.

He found it in his hamper.

I had no explanation and so without thinking (me? speak without thinking?  So out of character for me) I said oh maybe Granddaddy was messing with you.

I mean, I watch Long Island Medium, it could totally happen, right? And it would so be something in character for Jay's dad. One of his favourite words was buffoonery after all. 

(Exhibit B - buffoonery defined)

So yeah. Not a good thing to tell a 10 year old boy, in case you were wondering. About a month later, he came to in tears me as I was falling asleep saying maybe it's Granddaddy making all the scary noises he hears when he's trying to fall asleep. That was my first clue about the epic parenting fail. Yes, I am slow on the uptake.

After much reassurance and the use of the word buffoonery several times, I convinced him that his granddaddy would NEVER try to scare him. EVER.

Mess with him to make him laugh, absolutely, but the noises are just the house, or possibly his overactive imagination or its paranormal activity that I am too old to hear or something.... Oops. I went too far again, didn't I?  Kidding, I didn't say the part about the paranormal activity.  This time.

The are several morals points  here:

- I didn't cause the anxiety with my fail (it was already gaining its own momentum) but I did exasperate it exponentially
- he does have control or at least some control because we are well over two weeks without a late night of excessive worry. He is always a bit apprehensive at bedtime but we each have to think of at least two good things that make us happy before I hug him goodnight. That gives him something else to focus on. Take that,  "worry".
- he takes some awesome pictures that make me smile daily. See Exhibit A through C:

(Exhibit C)

I might be married to a human giraffe.

Now that's something to worry about.

(I take his anxiety very seriously. I may have made up this system of dealing with it but it seems to be working for now. I am also saving for future therapy costs as Plan B.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Right Where I am Supposed to Be

I started the post last week when I was having a moment of complete gratitude. Then then the weekend hit and my feeling got unhinged. Monday was, well, exactly as one would expect Monday to go. The complete opposite of the feeling the picture below creates.

Summer, you  let old man winter push you around again and only graced us with your glorious presence for a short time. We made the most it. Fantastic smiles from time spent with friends and cousins in the beautiful sunshine accompanied by too many hamburgers, hot dogs and s'mores.  Perfect.

The summer included birthdays, Jack is now a teenager though still not overly acting like one (*sign of the cross*) and Kamden is 10.  Time flies.

Kamden is trying his hand at tackle football this fall. He was pretty anxious, as was mom, but it's going really well.  

This picture cracks me up. His face. White pants to practice on a grassy, muddy field...so funny. Oh wait, no, that's a reminder to buy stock in a laundry stain removal company.

This boy of mine is a conundrum. So happy and easy going by day, by night, anxious and full of fear. That is the cause of my Monday blahs, this.

It's hard to watch him struggle.  In this, we are in new territory.  My arsenal of possible tools is quickly running dry.  We are in the process of seeking help but in what is typical of my style, I think, just one more day and we'll be through the worst.

It involves many peaks and valleys. All I want is my happy go lucky boy back.

Yesterday, if at all possible.

I am so very grateful that I am not doing this alone.  Also, what I wouldn't give to be back on that beach in Jamaica right at this moment. Oops, sorry, not being overly grateful, really, am I?

September has arrived with crisp mornings and falling leaves just in time for school. The boys were less than impressed with the arrival of the first day of school but have settled in nicely.

Grade 8 for this young man and grade 5 for his brother. As has become typical in the last couple of years, the first day of school photos have more outtakes than goodtakes but I kind of love it like that.

These two can make me laugh like no one else.




And that's what I will hold onto as we weather this minor storm because I am right where I am supposed to be.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

15-Love & 40-Love

I have been looking quite forward to my 40th birthday. I am not overly sure why but I think it's partly because I am pretty content with where I am in my life. And because of my new goal to practice regular gratitude, here is my listing on this my fortieth birthday:
Husband, partner, best friend and fantastic dad? Check.

Kids, that which I always knew I wanted. Check.

Extended immediate (think about it, it makes sense) family that's awesome. Check.

Career/job that I love. Check.

Financial security. Check. 

Good friends. Check.

Minimal regrets. Check.

There might be a few regrets but most are more like wishes that things could have been different. After 40 years, that's probably to be expected.

So here is to 40 years young.

To celebrate, Jay planned a nice dinner with a few close girl friends this past weekend. I am an introvert. A big surprise party is not my thing. This dinner? Perfect.


Jay acted as chauffeur so that we could all responsibly indulge in the adult beverages. The location was our favourite restaurant.  We indulged in (what we considered) expensive wine and an amazing 6 course meal. You'll note that there are not 6 courses pictured above.  I missed taking pictures of two of the courses. I was too busy laughing and eating and drinking.

As an aside, I am still dreaming of that scallop (top left). And I thought I didn't like scallops. Converted! I think I was like 12 last time I tried them so.... 

Oh yeah and there was the oyster choking incident.  Mental note, easy on the horseradish when you are going to try to let it slide down your throat.  Horseradish on the back of the throat = choking Kami. And those I still don't like. Similar to the clam slithering down my throat incident of 1985.

And that wine.  It was worth every cent.  

These girls.  Well they made my night. We are all super busy people and I am so grateful they could take the time to celebrate with me.  They might be gorgeous on the outside, but more importantly, they are beautiful people on the inside.


It was perfect.  Thank you Christie, Leah, Terry-Lyn and Michelle (who was there is spirit from NYC).

Jay and I are also celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary.   It's a big year.
He and I had our time together in Jamaica and after all these years, we still seem to really like each other.

I fully realize what a blessing that is and try not to take it for granted.

second round Happy Fifteenth Anniversary Jay! My only wish is for many many more.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Formal Gratitude

I just did a really quick trip to Vancouver for a work meeting and retirement dinner. I was dreading going because this past year, I have travelled more than I ever have in my entire life. And me, I am a homebody with a capital H. I was looking forward to seeing everyone because that's a no brainer but the plane rides and airport time I could do without.

Part of the day was spent in a workshop talking about uncertainty. There is lots of this right now as our profession goes through a huge change. It's one I support but it will likely mean changes for me professionally. I don't consciously feel like I am stressing about this but I have suffered more headaches the last 6 months than ever so perhaps I am subconsciously.

Anyway, that's not what this about. What I was reminded of during the workshop is that we can't focus on what we don't know but what we do. And when we choose to focus on something, it should be the positive. At one point, the facilitator asked if we practiced gratitude journaling. I didn't raise my hand but then later I realized that I do. I just don't write it down. I think of things all the time and I often post them on FB (which I have been avoiding lately but that's a whole other story).

Instead, I am going to dust this here space off and write down things I am grateful for on a weekly more frequent basis.

Here goes nothing.  Or something.  The verdict is still out.

1. Cherry blossoms. Where have you been all my life? Very glad they were still blooming when I got off the train yesterday. A photos was taken and sent to a good friend because this stuff has to be shared with those we love.  Also? The sun was shining and it was gorgeous out.

2.  The people I work with. I don't talk about my job here ever (because obviously!)  but I will make an exception here. I work with a group of people who believe in team work and believe in a positive, supportive work environment. I have experienced the opposite of that and I appreciate the current situation so much more as a result. 
3.  My job.  I don't think this is news. I work from home doing something I love.  I am here for my kids.  Enough said. The uncertainty, well, it will sort itself out. I have faith. (Headaches, you hear me?! Bugger off, things are fine.)
3.  Having a good hard laugh with a friend.  The kind that makes stop breathing and tears come to your eyes.  All he said was, "Do you  mind if I touch that?"  I don't know why we both laughed till we cried but we did.  That which he wanted to touch was a cast iron tea pot my tea came in at dinner last night.  I think perhaps both our minds hit the gutter there but sometimes, you gotta go there. Equally amusing where the befuddled looks of our colleagues as they somehow didn't find it as funny. 
4.  Friends that get you. That understand you when you are venting about things that might be slightly petty.  They listen, support and provide prospective.  
5. This quote:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt
 It really resonated with me. I will stop worrying about the judgement of others.  The reality is that I am flawed and human and imperfect and people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.  Myself included. 
Next up, my fortieth birthday.  Can't. hardly. wait.