Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Weekday Meals (3)

This will be my last post  on this theme for now! 

Here are some meals I typically pull out on weeknights. I make no claim that they are healthy or that you/your kids/your spouse/your cat will like them. This time, I'm not including recipes, but just some simple meals we keep in the backs our minds that most people are familiar with. 

- Tacos (beef usually, with tomatoes, sour cream and cheese)
- Quesadillas (usually with cheese, tomatoes, onions and jalapeƱos)
- Tostadas (baked tortillas topped with refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, and cheese)
- Nachos
- BBQ Hamburgers
- BBQ Chicken burgers
- Pancakes
- Waffles
- Grilled cheese sandwiches (make fancy for adults using jalapeƱo jack cheese. Mix together cream cheese, mayo and a bit of garlic powder).

What are your go-to weeknight meals?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Yikes! Rough Weekend

Holy moly -  l feel like I just ran a marathon through a hurricane without eating the week before.

Yesterday, I was on the verge of tears all day (and went over the edge a number of times). I called and emailed as many people I could to just to talk too. This has happened a few times in the last couple of weeks. It's to the point where I'm wondering if I have some PPD, if it's something physical, or leftovers from the stroke (I'll be going to my family doctor today to hopefully figure this out).

What I do know is lack of sleep is my trigger every time. If I get one bad night of sleep, then I'm grumpy and easily annoyed, but if I get two bad nights in a row, I crash. I become a sobbing mess. I just can't handle anything.

Then, when I get one good night of sleep (like last night), I feel so much better. I can go about my day relatively normally, with a few hiccups here and there. Even better, if I get two good nights in row, I feel amazing and ready to conquer the world! This is when I put together Evan's 3rd year book in 1-2 days, or get the energy to do 5 loads of laundry, walk Evan home from daycare, cook dinner, do bedtime for Evan, and not blink an eye - and am happy most of the day.

So, regardless of what label we'll end up putting on my "lows", I know sleep is the biggest factor.

I've known since my stroke that I can't deal with lack of sleep nearly as well as before. I don't know if that will ever recovery fully. It's also hard to measure, since things are just busier now with two kids.

DH has been amazing through all of this, and is offering to basically do Carter-care every night so I can get a good sleep. It's working and I'm feeling better, but I also feel guilty about it (of course :P). I just need to remind myself that if I'm feeling better, then our house will be happier. Hopefully either Carter starts sleeping better*, or I can start handling a bad night here and there better so I can help out more at night.

*I'll be taking Carter to the paediatrician tomorrow to get a few questions answered about his eating, sleeping, and other things. Hopefully that will help too.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

6+ Months Later

I can't believe it's been over six months since my stroke. I am pretty much back to my old self, except with shorter hair and I get hit harder than I used to with fatigue when I'm not sleeping well (hence my last post).

I go longer and longer without having days where I get upset about it all. I can think about it, even the worst parts, without getting worked up, anxious, or depressed. I can talk about it and tell my story and feel like it's at arms length, not right in my face all the time. I no longer feel like I'm "stroke" Alyssa. I"m just me again, and that's a great feeling

That being said, there are some unaddressed issues that still need to be addressed. For example, it's hard for me to untie Carter from the stroke. I also still mourn not being able to bond with him that first month. I feel like we're not as close as we could be because of this (or because of how hard I get hit with fatigue, which happens a lot with a baby who isn't a great sleeper). I do get scared every so often that it will happen again. I'm going to be seeking out counselling to work through these things.

I still think about somehow getting involved with other stroke survivors. I might actually try to incorporate this into my year at teacher's college. There is a two-week portion of the program where we can do basically whatever we want as long at it involved education in some way (to get us to find out what else we will be qualified to do besides teach in the classroom). I might see if I can work with stroke patients.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sleep Woes

Holy man, after hitting the jackpot in sleep with Evan, we were spoiled. He slept through the night at about 6 weeks and never stopped. Yes, we've had our issues here and there: there was a period where it took a long time to get him to go to sleep at night, or when we had to drive him around for naps - but otherwise, it's been pretty smooth.

Carter has been a different story, and I am running out of ideas. Here's a brief history:

- As a newborn he'd wake up every 3 hours to eat (as expected)

- He slept through the night for the first time at about 6 weeks - we thought we'd hit the jackpot again!

- After that he'd sleep through the night probably about 70% of the time. Otherwise, waking up once to take a bottle in the middle of the night.

- At about 4-months, he started sleeping less soundly. He wouldn't wake up to eat, but we'd have to go into his room multiple times a night to sooth him back to sleep. We chalked this up to the 4-month sleep regression.

- After 2-3 weeks of that, he slept through the night for a couple weeks and it was glorious.

- Then it all went to hell. Going back to sleeping less soundly and us needing to go sooth him back to sleep multiple times a night, like during the regression. This went on for a few weeks.

- Then, he got a bad cold and was absolutely inconsolable 1-2 times per night. At this point, one of us started sleeping with him in the guest room. This helped him sleep a bit better, but still not great.

- About a week ago now, he started to wake up every 3 hours and wanted to eat (the only thing that would calm him down would be to give him a bottle). He would sleep well in between feeds, but only in bed with one of us. We chalked this up to a 6-month growth spurt.

- Now he seems to be cutting back on his night feeding, but he's still not sleeping soundly, and we are alternating who spends the night in the guest room with him.

I don't know what to do anymore. We know he's able to sleep through the night, but it's been so long that we're at the end of our ropes. We thought things would get better after the growth spurt, but don't know if it's still going on or not. Even though he wants extra milk at night, he refuses to take extra milk during the day instead. He's also started solids and is clearly ingesting some now. So, we thought this would help too, but it hasn't seemed too.

This is more of a rant, but if anyone has any advice or suggestions, please let me know. We've been trying to avoid the cry-it-out method, but we're getting to the point where we might want to try sleep training. If anyone has used techniques that worked for you, please let me know that too.

Sleep is like water to survive, and it's been really tough the last few weeks. With the stroke, fatigue hits me worse than ever. It was so bad about a week ago that I felt like I was spiralling into a depression.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Weekend

We just had an awesome weekend spent with family!

BIL, SIL and our niece came to visit from Thursday until Tuesday! BIL's cousin is also in town and she and her daughter spent a lot of time with us too! It was so great to have family around and really made us see how amazing it would to be closer to them.

Our niece is the same age as Evan, so it was awesome to see them play together the whole time! It was so nice for Evan to have other people, especially kids, to play with. It was also great to have lots of people who wanted to play with and hold Carter. It was just nice to feel like we had a support system, if only for a little while.

We went to several playgrounds, to a local children's theme park, did an easter egg hunt (and decorated some of our own), played tons in the backyard, went to a swimming pool, and just had some good food, drinks, and laughs.

It was amazing. We really need to figure out how to move closer to family.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Weekday Meals (2)

I'll be doing a couple post on this theme in the next while! 

Here are some meals I typically pull out on weeknights. I make no claim that they are healthy or that you/your kids/your spouse/your cat will like them. What you see are not the full recipes. If you'd like the full recipe with measurements and everything, just send me an email! 

What are your go-to weeknight meals?

Beef & Broccoli

- Head of Broccoli
- Beef strips (or steak to cut up)
- Raisins
- Sunflower seeds or cashews (or nut of your choice)
- General Tao Sauce (should be able to find in the Asian sauce section of the grocery story)

Cut beef into strips if you didn't buy strips. Dribble some oil in a pan and cook beef for a few minutes. Cut up broccoli into small pieces. Put those in the pan with beef. Add sauce and cook for a few minutes until broccoli is tender. Add raisins and nut(s). Stir to coat. Serve with rice.

Patty Melts

- Ground beef
- Onion
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- Handful of cilantro (fresh or dry)
- Half a palmful each  of oregano, cumin
- Salt & pepper
- Swiss cheese slices
- Lime juice

Grate about 2-3 tablespoons of onion and mince/crush garlic. Add that and spices to ground beef and mix well with your hands. Split into patties. Cook in pan on med-high for 5 minutes. Flip. Squirt each with lime juice and top with cheese. Cover pan with tinfoil and cook for 3-5 minutes until burger is done to your liking. Serve on nice bun/break (I toast them quickly in the over) and with coleslaw or other favourite salad.

Beef Dip Sandwich

- Beef roast
- Rosemary
- Garlic powder
- 2-3 bay leaves
- Soy Sauce
- Water

Crock pot fun! Put the beef in the pot (I cook from frozen). Add as much garlic and rosemary as you'd like and bay leaves. Add 1 cup of soy sauce and 6 cups of water (or enough water to cover beef). Cook all day :) When you get home, shred beef with two forks, and serve on a bun with salad/fries. Use leftover liquid as dip (au jus) for sandwich.

Pulled Pork Sandwich

- Pork tenderloin
- 2 cans of root beer (or Dr. Pepper)
- Water
- BBQ sauce of your choice (I use a hickory smoke)

More crock pot fun! Put tenderloin in pot (frozen or fresh). Add root beer. Add enough water to cover the pork. Cook all day :) When you get home, shred beef with two forks. Add enough BBQ sauce to coat. Serve on a bun with salad/fries.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Actions are not Judgements

I think as a general rule, we (myself included) need to remember that someone's actions are not judgement of our own.

Here are some personal examples that have come up in my life:

- Just because I had a natural home birth, doesn't mean I think anyone who had an epidural or a c-section is weak.

- Just because I had a stroke doesn't mean I'll minimize your health issues or concerns.

- Just because I hated my PhD and left academia and speak of the "hazards", doesn't mean it won't work for others.

- Just because I have 2 children, doesn't mean I judge you for having a different number (including zero)

- Just because I like to dress up for work/school, doesn't mean I judge your preferred style.

- Just because I eat meat, doesn't mean I think vegans/vegetarians/etc are crazy.

- Just because I don't believe in God or pray, doesn't mean I don't value other belief systems.

What it comes down to is we each have our own set of experiences and values, and we make decisions based on what's best for us. If it works, that's all that matters!

What are some examples that you've been accused of, or have witnessed?

Happy Friday!!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Soother Reliance

I know there are a lot of parents out there who have gone through this, so please post any advice you have!

Carter does not have very restful sleeps at night. He wakes up a few times (even up to 10 times!) at night, but seemingly just wants the soother put back in his mouth. After one of us gets up to do that, he goes right back to sleep. But, with it happening so often, it needs to change. Even though we're only up for less then a minute, it still interrupts our sleep and we're not sleeping nearly as well.

Did you have a baby/child with a soother reliance? How did you solve the issue? Did you go cold turkey, or did you try a more gentle method?


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Six Months of Carter

Six months ago, Carter came into our lives at a very reasonable time (2pm) after a relatively quick (about 4 hours) and pretty uneventful home water birth.*

I know every parent says this about their child(ren), but I cannot believe how much he has grown and changed in such a short period.

He had a pretty big temper in the beginning - he did not like waiting for food, and he would often pound his fists and wail while he waited. Six months later, he's a happy, go-lucky kind of kid.

He gives smiles to anyone that gives him any attention, and he gets so excited when he's included in family activities. He's even happy and excited if he wakes up in the middle of the night (cute, but not so much at 3am). He laughs freely and easily - it just brings a smile to my face to even think of how joyful he is.

He's so strong and solid. He rolled over back-to-tummy just after he turned 5 months old, and now does it constantly. He can sit on his own for a few minutes at a time. He's working very hard on crawling. Once he's able to move an inch, we have a feeling he'll take off.

He adores playing with toys, especially in his exersaucer. He loves getting read and sung to.

He showed us he was ready for solids a couple weeks ago by taking a handful of lasagne and a piece of garlic bread off of DH's plate at dinner. He now gets really excited about any food we put in front of him. He prefers to sit on our laps during meal time instead of his high chair.

His sleeping could be better, but only because we were/are so spoiled with Evan's crazy sleeping ability. He typically goes to bed around 10pm and sleeps to 5-7am. Sometimes he wakes up a few times at night so we have to put his soother in his mouth. He has 3-4 naps a day. He seems to like napping in bed beside me, which is great for me because it forces me to lie down and relax (or even nap myself!).

We got through the newborn phase alive,  and will now seeing him start the transition from baby to toddler. It's amazing to watch him learn about the world around him. He's so interested in everything, especially his older brother and the cats (oh, they are in trouble once he's mobile).

Carterpiller, we knew you'd be different from your brother, and it's starting to become apparent how. You love people, and you don't mind loud sound or surprising things. You can just chill out by yourself, or just take in what's going on around you. You're not super great with night-time sleeping, but you nap like a champ during the day. We are excited to see how you become YOU in the months and years to come.

*I realized I haven't written about this experience, and not sure if I ever will.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Weekday Meal Ideas (1)

I'll be doing a couple post on this theme in the next while! 

Here are some meals I typically pull out on weeknights. I make no claim that they are healthy or that you/your kids/your spouse/your cat will like them. What you see are not the full recipes. If you'd like the full recipe with measurements and everything, just send me an email!

What are your go-to weeknight meals?

Basil Pasta

- Pasta of your choice (I typically use bowties)
- Fresh basil
- Cream
- Parmesan cheese (fresh is better)

Cook pasta as per the directions on the package. Chop up a good size handful of basil leaves, and grate the lemon rind until you have about 2 tablespoons. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it. Add about a cup  of cream (I use whipping cream and go for full fat!), and about 1/2 cup of parm and stir until cheese is melted. Add lemon rind and basil and stir again. Squeeze the juice from the lemon. Serve with extra parm and freshly ground pepper to top!

Veggie “cream” soup

- 2-3 garlic cloves
- 1 small onion
- 1 baking potato
- bunch of carrots, cauliflower or broccoli
- 1L (4 cups) Vegetable stock (or chicken or beef, whatever you prefer or have on hand) 
- Seasoning (see below for pairings)

Chop up garlic and onion. Heat up some oil in a large soup pot. Once hot, add garlic and onion and cook. Meanwhile, peel and chop up baking potato and other veggie. Add to pot. Add seasoning (ginger for carrots, and italian season or dried basil or herbes de Provence for cauliflower/broccoli). Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to med-low and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Serve with break of your choice (I do parm garlic sticks) 

Sausage Pasta

- 3-4 garlic cloves
- olive oil
- 2-3 sausages of your choice (I use mild Italian)
- your favourite pasta (I usually use fusilli)

Cook pasta as per directions. Meanwhile, cut sausages into slides and cook over medium heat until cooked through. Set aside. In the same pan, heat up oil and cooke garlic for 2-3 minutes (don't burn!). Mix pasta, sausages, and oil/garlic sauce. Done!

Chicken wings

- Soy sauce
- Salt
- Fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425F. Put wire baking rack over a baking sheet covered in tin foil. Dip each wing in soy sauce to coat and put on rack. Sprinkle salt and pepper over each wing. Bake for 20 minutes, flip each wing, and bake for another 20 minutes. I serve with coleslaw or other cut up veggies. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014


I have been working on this afghan for over three years now! So, when I started the last of the eight sections, I was pretty excited to be on the home stretch.

To see how it would look all sewn together, I laid out all the pieces and voila:

Fig. 1: All eight sections with 20 pieces each. 

Looks a bit funny there on the left side, doesn't it? Well, that's what happens when you take 3 years to knit something! The tension I use to knit has changed so much over that time that there is one piece (the first piece I knit) is way smaller than the others!


So, I'll be re-doing another section! Thankfully, I've been knitting faster lately, and it shouldn't take me too long. I better do it quick though, so my tension doesn't change some more and I end up having to redo other pieces!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Got In!

I got in to both the teacher's college programs I applied too! So, now I just need to decide which grade range I want to teach (grade 4-10 or 7-12). I have until April 17th to decide.

So excited!! This is the first step toward doing what I've wanted to do for years!