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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Food Fun (?)

One thing I've mastered since moving out on my own is organizing my meals and food prep. It helps that I enjoy cooking, I think, but that doesn't mean trying to make meals on weeknights is super fun for me :P So, over the years, especially the last couple with Evan around, I think I've put together a really great system.

First, I keep a spreadsheet of every meal we like and categorize them (chicken, beef, veggie, breakfast, etc.). That way, when I get to making the grocery list (see below), I have go-to ideas and don't have to come up with things on the spot.

Second, I plan our meals out for the week. I choose a dinner for every night of the week. Saturday and Sundays tend to be more involved. Monday-Thursdays usually consist of 1 chicken, 1 beef, and 2 veggie meals. I don't commit a certain meal to a specific day, but just choose from the 4 (this is in case we don't really feel like a particular meal one day). I shoot to have all these meals have leftovers for lunches for myself and DH the next day. Friday is my easy night - that means either take-out (from our pre-approved list of favourites) or something like individual pizzas, pancakes, or home-made chicken wings.

Third, I write out a grocery list. I go through all the meals I planned and make sure we have everything for them. I then make sure we stock up on breakfast stuff (cereal, bread, milk, fruit), and things for snacks and lunch fillers (fruit, yogurt, granola bars, crackers, cheese, etc.). I also get things like lunch meat or frozen meals (for DH) in case we don't have enough left overs for lunch. Finally, I add toiletries and other household things to the list. DH then goes grocery shopping on Saturday mornings, and we aim for that to be the only time we hit the grocery store that week. Sometimes we have to make extra trips, but that can be done quick by me with Carter in tow, or by DH on his way home from work.

Finally, I always try to have some basics on hand in case we run out, forget it at the store, or don't want a particular meal. We keep our deep freezer stocked with chicken breasts/wings, ground beef, sausages, beef roasts, and pork tenderloin. We always have pasta in the pantry, or stuff to make pancakes/waffles (the no fail meal!),

I'm thinking, over the next while, I might share some of my easy go-to weekday meals, because I know I'm always looking for ideas, and that's the time a lot of us get stuck.

What kinds of things do you do to make meal time go a bit smoother?


Sunday, March 23, 2014

So Done

This winter has officially crushed my spirits, and that of our whole family I think. We're just struggling to find things to do every weekend...we can't do anything outside because it's so freaking cold and/or snowing and/or windy or whatever makes outside out of the question, and there isn't much to do inside either. We're all going stir crazy! I'm so hard up for ideas, we actually went to the mall as a family yesterday to try and get a new electric kettle (and couldn't find one!!!).

Carter is going through a sleep regression and Evan is 3.5 (need I say more?), so I feel like I want/need to run away on a daily basis.

Spring needs to come already!!! I'm about to lose my mind.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

3 (5 Months Late)

**Writing this now even though it's late, so I can include it in Evan's 3-year book**

Dear Evan,

You turned 3 years old a mere 11 days after Carter was born and 5 days after mommy had her stroke. Needless to say, it probably wasn't the best birthday. But, instead of being upset or wanting all eyes on you, you rolled with the punches. You played with whoever was able, and didn't let things bother you too much. Your visits to the hospital made things bearable for mom. Nothing like an "Evan hug" to cheer someone up!

Fig. 1: Visiting mommy in the hospital (and watching cartoons on her very expensive TV).

We were able to celebrate your birthday a week after your birthday. You were so excited to get your "very own kitchen set" (as you liked to call it for months after!), and you really enjoyed getting your first board game (Hungry Hungry Hippos)! You weren't a fan of the family singing "Happy Birthday" to you (just like mommy - it always made her cry too!) -- so, to make yourself feel better, you started singing it to mommy instead (even though her birthday wasn't anytime soon!). We had cheesecake for your cake and you thought it was pretty good!

Fig. 2: Mmm...cheesecake!

In the last year, you changed from a toddler to a little boy. It's so fun to watch you play, either by yourself or with other kids at daycare (or even with us). You come up with the most interesting scenarios and stories when you play with your cars and toys. It's so cool that you have "best friends" at daycare, and it's clear who they are. We can already see you're a very loyal and loving friend.

We think you'll make a great lawyer because you love to negotiate, make deals, and find loopholes. You also call others out when they're not following the rules. You have very strong opinions about what you do (and mostly don't!) like, but you love to tell jokes and make people laugh!

You have lost any remaining baby "fat" and are lean, strong, and athletic. You love to run, jump, skip, dance, and rough-house (usually with daddy). You're so active that it's hard for us to keep up, but it's good for us to try!

We love you more than you know, Evan, our "potamus" (a nickname you'll never get rid of!).

Fig. 3: Looking far too "boy" for our liking sometimes!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

35

Today is my 35th birthday! For some reason, this makes me feel old. Not sure why, but maybe because it means I'm halfway to 70?

This last year has been a doozy, that's for sure! Being pregnant the second time around, some drama at my job the last couple of months before maternity leave, giving birth at home to Carter, and...the big one...suffering a stroke a mere 6 days after that. I spent the last few months of my 34th year recovering.

Now that I'm feeling relatively normal and we are settling down into our family of four life, things are moving on up and I'm feeling happy and content with life. This next year will include lots of big changes for me and our family, and we hope it will be a good one. We are making plans so we have lots to look forward too, and this year might finally be the year I go to teacher's college (I find out April 1st, so stay tuned!). Finally, let's hope this year is better for my hair too! :D

Cheers to 35!


Friday, March 14, 2014

Love the Y

While I was still seeing a rehab team, I had appointments with a recreational therapist. Out of all the therapy I did, I thought this would be the least useful, and it ended up being the best and (I think) most important for my recovery. My RT was amazing and really worked hard to find options for me to get me back to being active. She researched several gyms in the area and would give me reports on their programming, if they had childminding, what the cost was, and how easy it would be for me to get there and get in/out of the building.

After considering several options, DH and I talked them over, and decided to get a family pass to the YMCA. It's more expensive than I thought/hoped (about $100/month), but we went for it because it has the types of classes and facilities I like and use (spin, step, yoga, pool), it's close by, and includes parking. The price also includes all programming for us and Evan, and free childminding for Carter. This last one was a big one for me, because there's no way I'd go otherwise.

I've been going 1-2 times per week, which has been amazing. It's awesome to a) get out of the house, b) take off the "mom" hat, and c) be able to move and use my body! I've mostly been swimming, which I've been loving, and of course I end it with a dip in the hot tub (ahhh!!). To top it off, Carter LOVES going to the onsite daycare. The ladies love him because he's just so happy and smiley. That makes it easier!

We have tried going as a family of four - DH and I working out, Carter at the daycare, and Evan in their mini-Y program (they set up a gym with a bunch of different games/equipment for 3-5 year-olds). Unfortunately, Evan didn't like it at all, and apparently cried for me the WHOLE HOUR he was there (parenting win!). So, we'll just keep using as best we can now, and hopefully try again with Evan when he's a bit older (3.5 is SUCH a fun age, right?).


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lacking Focus

Note: not looking for advice or anything, just need to get this out!

Last time, I touched on that I'm feeling that my life is lacking focus, and it's so true. There are just so many things on my mind and things going on that I sometimes just feel lost trying to keep up with it all.

Her's a snapshot of what's going around in my head:

Careers stuff
- Will I get into teacher's college? If so, can we really afford it? Will I be able to be a student again? What about finding a job afterwards?
- What if I don't get in, what will I do then? What kinds of jobs can I apply for with my background? Should I look into other certificate programs? If so, what and where, and how much will that cost? Would it be worth it?

Hobbies
(these things don't actually stress me out - or else they wouldn't be "hobbies" -  but just other things in my head while I'm making a list)
- Knitting: I really want to get this damn afghan done, and I want to work on Carter's sweater. I'd also like to try a pair of socks. Oh, and I'm a bit bummed that the knitting group I started has been a bit slow.
- Reading: There are just so many books I want to read. Can I read them all at the same time? Plus $$ for books.
- Blogging: talked about this last time.
- Oh yeah, and I want to learn how to play the piano!

House stuff
- This house is not meeting our needs, and definitely won't in a short time when Carter's up and about.
- Do we want to stay in our house and renovate or move to another house that would meet our needs better?
- If we stay, what projects do we want to do? What's a priority? What exactly do we want to do? How much will it cost? When can we do them?
- This house needs to be more organized! How much is that going to cost? When am I going to have the time to do that? What should I tackle first? What should I try to sell, or what should I donate or just trash?

Kid/Family Stuff
- Things to do while at home with Carter during the day
- What to do on the weekends to keep everyone happy and entertained
- When to put Evan back into part-time daycare
- When to start Carter in daycare
- Why is Carter waking up multiple times in the middle of the night, or waking up at 5am, and can we do anything about it? I'm guessing it's just a phase...
- When should we start Carter on solids and I completely forgot how we did that with Evan, so I should figure that out soon...
- When will DH and I be able to spend any tine together just the 2 of us?

Oh, and don't forget the random thoughts/flashbacks about the stroke (these are always fun). I sometimes wonder if I think about all these things, or want to do a million things, because my mind (and body!) was idle for a while?

Maybe there are just too many things going on right now, or maybe we're just busy and getting used to being a family of four. Maybe I'll feel better once I start school (if I get in) or get a job and have something that's only for ME.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Blog Path

This is really just me thinking aloud, but feel free to chime in with whatever comes to mind!

I've been thinking a lot about my blog lately - what I write about and what the point is.

I write about everything from the kids and motherhood to science and education to my stroke recovery, to knitting, house stuff, and everything in between. I sometimes wonder if I should be more focused, or is the "focus" of my blog just "life"? Why do I feel like my blog has to even have a "point"?  Does there really need to be coherent theme?

All I know is that I'm feeling a bit unsettled about it right now. Maybe because I don't have a ton of time to write at the moment, and it seems a bit of a chore to write, and it's been hard coming up with posts. Before I would have a bunch in mind and schedule them, but now I just sit and write when something comes to mind (if I have a free moment).

I wonder if my blog lacks focus because my life seems that way too? Right now, it almost seems like we're running in triage-mode, just doing what needs to be done at that moment and a) not having time for anything else, and b) not giving much thought to anything. Like we're moving minute to minute, task to task, and just treading water right now.

Hmm...this started as a post about the blog and turned into a "life" post. See? Writing thoughts down DOES help clarify things! I mean, nothing is more clear, but at least I know what's really in my thoughts, not just the blog.

I've been thinking about taking a month of from the blog (and all social media) just to give myself a break and spend that time in other ways I might like.

One other thing I know is that I need to update that header!!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

5 Months

Carter turned 5 months old yesterday! It sometimes feel like he's still a newborn, and other times feels like he's on the cusp of toddlerhood! I have really enjoyed being at home with him, and only him, the past couple of months. It's been wonderful to bond with him like I didn't get to do in his first few weeks.

- I know I say this every month, but he's such a happy baby! He just loves to smile and laugh and coo and is just pretty easy going. He loves it when he makes other people laugh, and it just makes him laugh more.

- He's starting to squeal when he gets excited about something.

- He's getting int more of a routine during the day, something that I can usually anticipate! Makes life a bit easier.

- He's still sleeping through the night. He usually falls asleep between 7-9pm,  but his wake up times are randomly anytime between 5-8am.

- He drinks 5-6 6oz bottles a day.

- His favourite toys are his playmat and his dinosaur :)

- He loves being read and sung too - if he's upset  and I do one of these, he instantly calms down.

- He's a de-escalator (very unlike his brother) - so he tends to NEED to cry before going to sleep.

- Still no rolling back to tummy, but he's very close. He can do it with a little bit of help.

- He has found his feet and finds them very delightful!

- He now has a definite interest in the cats. He does everything in his power (which, granted, isn't much right now) to try and grab them.

- He works very hard on crawling when he's on his tummy. The poor guy gets so frustrated that he works so hard and doesn't get anywhere! Half of me wants him to be able to do it, then other half is hoping it'll take months to learn!

- He still has blue eyes, but we fully expect them to turn brown like ours and Evan's.

- Evan plays and interacts with him more and more, and I think this makes Carter feel more part of the family :)



Friday, March 7, 2014

Wall Help!

We have a rather long wall that connects the front entrance to the kitchen and I'm not liking what we've done with it. We didn't really think about it all that much and just threw up a couple multi-photo picture frames on one end (near the front entrance) and then hung our giant fork and spoon on the other (I do LOVE these those).

 Fig. 1: Looking into the kitchen from the front entrance. The door at the very other end is our pantry and the kitchen opens up to the right. 

Fig. 2: Looking toward the front entrance from the kitchen. The doorway on the very righthand side leads to the dinning room. 

Any ideas out there on what we could do with this space (links to photo examples would be much appreciated!)?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Stroke Notes

I have a lot of stuff in my head about the stroke, so I'll just do bullet points instead of multiple posts!

- I had an appointment with the neuro-ophthalmologist last week and he confirmed that my vision has 100% corrected itself. I have lots of bad things to say about that doctor, but don't fee like getting into it now. Basically, the guys a douche-canoe.

- I am starting to appreciate some of the things the hospital staff made me do..things that made me mad at the time (like forcing me to eat, testing my reading comprehension and simple math skills, etc.)

- There are a couple things that I saw during my first week in the hospital that I never told anyone about: everyone looked like they had a thick beard on their lower left jaw-line (on my right) --- which makes sense given I had a field-cut in my vision in that quadrant. Also, I could NOT follow a football game, which made me really upset because I love watching football (one thing DH and I love to do together). On top of that, I would see extra players in the lower right corner of the screen. I didn't want to tell anyone about these "visions" because I didn't want to give them anymore reason to keep me in the hospital longer.

- I can really only see how well I'm doing now if I look back to see how bad I was. For example, multitasking was really difficult for me,  or I would make simple math mistakes...and I just thought my mistakes were normal -  and justified them as things everyone could do - but now know differently. This makes me wonder how I'm gong to see myself now when I look back in 6-12 months (or longer).

- One of the only deficit that is really apparent (to me) is issues with speech - again, it's not that the words aren't there, but I can't get them out right sometimes. This is getting better all the time, but it will be interesting to see if it improves to the point where I don't notice. Another one is spelling errors, especially with words with double letters.

- The fogginess and fatigue have basically lifted - it feels good to be present and not exhaust. Of course, I still get tired from having 2 kids, so that won't ever go away ;)

- I have made a conscious decision to distance myself from stroke-related things. I haven't read any books on the subject (though I have some on my to-read list), I have unfollowed FB support groups that I had joined, and even turn away when commercials for the Heart & Stroke Foundation are on TV. In the past, these kinds of things would trigger flashbacks and it's not something I'm comfortable in facing head-on just yet. I still need time to digest things on my own terms, and will come back to these things later when I'm ready. Plus, I just want to live life normally and not have to be a "stroke survivor".

Monday, March 3, 2014

Brothers

I honestly can't tell if they look alike or not. It'll be interesting to see how they look when older!