Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mmmm Mmmm Mac 'N Cheese

For me, fall is a time for casseroles, slow cooker cooking, and all around comfort food.  My absolute favourite of which would have to be my Mom's homemade mac 'n cheese. I absolutely despise Kraft Dinner (a flaw of mine which is almost a deal breaker for my hubby who would eat KD for breakfast), probably because it can't even come close to comparing to this:

I took  this pic before it was cooked because I was giving it away and wouldn't be seeing it in it's ooey, gooey, melty, cheesy glory.  (Isn't there a Taco Bell commercial about that?)

I've been asked for this recipe many times, so I thought I'd share it here on the blog.  Hope this is okay, Mom!  If you try it, tell me what you think!

1.  Cook 2 1/2 c of macaroni until done (al dente).  Strain in colander.

2.  In same pot, melt 1/4c of butter.  Whisk in 1/4 c of flour, 1/4 tsp of dry mustard, 1 tsp of salt, and pepper to taste.

3.  Add a few good splashes of Worcestershire sauce, more if you like a little more zip.

4.  Whisk in 3 c of milk.  Heat gently, stirring with a whisk frequently to prevent scorching until it comes to a gentle boil.  Then keep stirring until it thickens.  Turn heat down just to keep it barely bubbling. When it thickens, stir in 2 1/2 c of shredded sharp cheese until melted.  Optional:  Add a good dollop of Cheez Whiz for extra cheesiness.

5.  Take off of heat and dump noodles back into the pot to mix.  Pour into a greased casserole dish.

6.  In microwave, melt 2 tbsp of butter or margarine.  Toss 1/2 to 1 c of bread, cracker, or cornflake crumbs until coated (I've even used ruffles chips, but I like soda crackers best).  Sprinkle over macaroni.  Then sprinkle more shredded cheese on top.

7.  Bake in oven at 350 until you see it bubbling around the edges and the topping is browned.  

Pair it up with some homemade biscuits, a salad, and an ice cold glass of milk and you've got a meal made in heaven!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Kicking leaves leads to shoveling snow . . . winter's on it's way!

This morning began at 7am.  Nothing unusual about that.  The sun was just coming up and the baby was beginning to stir.  Then I heard it.  The rhythmic chhh-chhh . . . chhh-chhh . . . coming through the bedroom window.  What is that???  Could it be???  I jumped out of bed (okay that's an exaggeration, I'm too sleep deprived to 'jump', it was more like a slither) and ran (I mean, dragged) myself to the window.  It was the neighbour scraping the frost off their car.  Just a little frost.  Whew!  Jonah entered the room and headed to the window.  His morning ritual is to check out what's happening as far as the construction goes on the street, and to make sure the 'builders' aren't leaning on their shovels sipping their Timmies for too long.  He notices the sparkly landscape right away but was greatly disappointed when I explained to him that it wasn't exactly snow and that we still had some time before Santa would be dropping by.  But, it put him in the festive spirit anyway - he enjoyed his breakfast of waffles and syrup in front of his Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer DVD.

So, later in the day, we had the pleasure of having my grandmother from Hornepayne (bet you don't know where that is!) and my Auntie Lee-Anne from Jasper, along with my mom and dad, for supper. We discovered this really neat paved trail through the forest last week that criss-crosses back and forth over a twisty creek, so we decided to take the fam and the dogs for a hike.  The leaves are just about at their peak so it was just gorgeous.

These pics are from our hike a few days ago. Unfortunately I forgot the camera today and didn't get any pictures with the family.  I'm horrible for forgetting the dang camera!

Anyway, we arrived home to a supper of cabbage rolls, French bread, carrots, and pumpkin pie! Yum! What a festive day and it's not even Thanksgiving yet!  Can't wait until next weekend when we can enjoy the cottage for the last time before it's closed up for the winter.  Such a bittersweet time of year.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Baby Has Arrived!

Wow!  It's been a while since I've been on here.  I guess I've had some better things to occupy my time with other than sitting in front of the computer - one of which things, would be our new baby boy!

Micah arrived a little early, at 9:28am on August 25th, 2010, and I couldn't be more thrilled to not have to hang on another three weeks!  I had a feeling, one way or another, he was going to be coming early.  It turned out I had preeclampsia and they decided to do an emergency induction to get him out before my health took a turn for the worse.  After a not too difficult 11 hours of labour (Yay for epidurals!), Micah arrived a healthy 7lbs 11oz and 20 1/2" long.  We went home the next day, and so our new life as a family of four, began!

Daddy's idea of labour . . .

Fruit of Mommy's labour . . .
(Hospital pictures are never flattering!)

At long last, after much anticipation, Big Brother meets Little Brother!

Our precious wee boy, finally home!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

After staying up until 2am last night reminiscing with hubby and looking at baby pics of our firstborn, I thought I'd post a pic of our first sweet baby boy.  As the due date creeps closer, I find myself wondering all day long what this next one will be like!

These were before and after shots of his 2nd hair cut (the first could barely be considered a hair cut).  
He went from Conan O'Brian to G.I. Jonah.  I just about died when I realized how short they were cutting it!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It's okay . . .

I'm totally stealing this idea from a good friend with a great blog - check her out at Dreams, Diapers, and Dilemmas.  She stole the idea from her sister who stole it from a magazine, so I guess it's a catchy idea! Here goes.

It's okay that . . .

I'm hopelessly addicted to warm fuzzies.  Cats, dogs, my husband, my son, babies, chick flicks, and making memories on family outings. Maybe that could be the reason why I'm such a picture taking junkie and tell stories on end about my little boy.  I just love reliving the moments.  And hey, what's better than the smell of yummy babies and burying your face in a kitty's fur?

It's okay that my 3 year old was up until midnight last night because I accidentally got carried away with my scrapbooking in the afternoon and he ended up with a 4 hour nap.  Oops! 

It's okay that I'm a tomboy at heart but hate bugs or baiting my fish hooks.  It's about the only girly girl aspect about me.

It's okay that I'm a facebook junkie.  I love to stay up to date with friends and family, especially since we moved more north.  It has really become difficult to get to see everyone face to face on a regular basis, and lets just face it, what mom has time to spend hours on end on the phone?

It's okay that I hate being pregnant (but I love the results).  For anyone that spends their entire pregnancy yakking, fighting constant heartburn and sciatic nerve pain, you'd hate it too.

It's okay that I'm not Supermom.

It's okay that I'm a dreamer.  I get a high just planning things and thinking about how I'm going to do something, even if I know, it's probably never going to happen.  Optimism is healthy!

It's okay that I nap just about every day, even when I'm not pregnant.  If it's good for the Spanish, it's good for me!

It's okay that I LOVE homemade mac and cheese and just can't wait to microwave the leftovers the next day.

It's okay that I love Road to Avonlea and would watch episodes for hours on end if I had the time.  My heart melts every time I hear Gus Pike say "Mess Kang (Miss King)" with his alluring accent.  : D  And yes, I will admit, I dragged my husband with me to the Road to Avonlea cast reunion at the Royal Ontario Museum a few years back.  I even made him be the one to take the picture of me with 'Gus' (Michael Mahonen).  And yes, he said "Mess Kang" for me!!!! Eeeee!  Next to my wedding day and the day my son was born, it was just about the next best day of my life!

What's your "It's okay . . ." list?  Share your comments, I'd love to hear!

Friday, June 11, 2010


For mother's day this past May, my mom surprised ME with a mother's day gift.  Totally unexpected and so sweet.  Thanks, Mom!  Anyway, in it, there was this little book called Momisms: What She Says and What She Really Means.  I've been leafing through over the past few weeks, whenever a spare moment (ha!) comes my way.  The crazy thing about this little book, is that there are 105 momisms in it - EVERY one of which I've heard before and many of which I've already used in my three short years as a mom.  Some of them are just too hilarious to keep to myself, so I thought I'd post a few . . .

Momism #4 - This one is soooo me!
"Put that down - you don't know where it's been!"
{Referring mainly to objects found on the ground in public places - things like coins, candy, half-eaten sandwiches, and used chewing gum -- this ism reflects every mom's pathological fear of germs.}

Momism #5 - One I heard repeatedly as a child.
"They're just jealous, that's all."
{A time-honoured but weak attempt to comfort a child who has been treated cruelly by his or her peers.  This ism is often uttered through clenched teeth as Mom plans the untimely, slow, and painful demise of her kid's tormentors.}

Momsism #6 - I honestly just used this one today, for this exact reason!  LOL!
"What did I just say?"
{The child interprets this as a challenge over whether or not they are paying attention.  But in most cases, the actual translation is, "I'm not testing your hearing.  I have actually forgotten what I just said and I'm hoping you can tell me."}

Momsim #10
"This place is a pigsty!"
{This pathetic attempt at motivating children to improve their housekeeping skills usually falls on deaf ears, especially with urban urchins who think a pigsty is an eye infection in swine.}

Momism #27
"Look at me when I'm talking to you."
{Moms do not like to be ignored, especially when delivering a long, impassioned diatribe on a child's bad behaviour.  Maintaining eye contact is the only way a mom can tell if her message is getting through, even if the eyes in question seem to be glazed over in a zombielike state.

Momism #46
"Don't forget to flush (or brush, floss, wipe, etc.)."
{One of the many daunting responsibilities in a mother's life is to train her son(s) in the fine art of personal hygiene.  This is easier said than done since most boys, until the approximate age of thirty, require constant daily reminders to perform the most basic of hygienic tasks.  These momisms are used several times a day around most households.  Sometimes, moms find it difficult to leave these warnings at home and may absentmindedly yell: "Don't forget to wipe!" as their young sons head for the rest room of a five star restaurant.}

Momism #93 - I've told myself this one many times!
"This, too, shall pass."
{An old standby, this is the ism to try when no other ism will do.}

Momism #105
"I love you."
{No translation necessary.}

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Wedding Dress Blog Tour

A blog I follow, Shasher's Life is doing a Wedding Dress Blog Tour. How cool! So, I thought I'd join in for the fun of it! Check out her blog for links to all the other participants, and tour away!

Hubby and I were married on a VERY frigid May 15, 2004.  

It might as well have been snowing!  The picture session was short and sweet and consisted of bridesmaids wearing the groomsmen's coats and the groomsmen shivering with their hands stuffed in their pockets!  So much for my pretty, bloom-filled, warm, spring wedding.  Oh, well, everything else went off without a hitch . . .

Except for the cheapo wedding cake (or should I say birthday cake) that we ended up cutting with a butter knife because the caterer forgot the cake knife (notice how our hands are cleverly trying to conceal the butter knfe).  Very classy!

The question six years later - to sell or to keep?  Well, I'm pregnant with our second boy and I don't have plans for any more children, so I'm thinking SELL, since I don't think my boys will have much interest in me pulling out my old wedding dress to reminisce about years down the road.  I'm thinking if I can sell the dress, I'll buy a tree for the yard so I'll have something to remember it by, and something we can all enjoy.

What was your dress and your day like?  Be sure to link your blog up at Shasher's Life to join the tour!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fantasy Friday (Don't worry, it's G rated!)

Okay, so at this stage in my life as a mom of a preschooler and of a wee babe on the way, there's not much room in my life for all that other stuff (you know, that 'stuff', other than wiping snotty noses, battling over the potty, the never ending piles of laundry, and spending the rest of my day just dealing with the attitude of a 3 year old).  So tonight, I sit here in front of the computer, the house strangely silent (hubby took little mister to Gram and Papa's), and my mind wanders to all the things I dream of doing someday.  Not that I don't love this stage in my life, I wouldn't trade it for the world, but it's nice to know it's just a stage, and that one day, maybe I'll have a little more freedom to do some 'me stuff' again.
  • I want to sing in a choir again.  I grew up in choirs from the time I was little and could sing in the kids church choir, to the community youth choir, to high school Concert Choir, to church choir again after that. There never seemed to be a time I wasn't singing. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't profess to be some lead soloist or anything, there's just something so exhilarating about making music together.
  • I always said once I finished my A.R.C.T. in piano, I wanted to learn to play the fiddle and the guitar.  Well I'm there now, but I don't see a fiddle or a guitar in my near future!
  • I want to be a writer.  I have no idea of what, or what for, but I do love to write and hope that I will always have an opportunity to write.  I guess that's what's so great about blogging (when I have the time, anyway)!
  • I am fascinated with my family history, and that of Simcoe County.  I would love to devote more time to researching those things, just for the heck of it and the sheer knowledge of knowing everything I can about the place I was born and raised, and where my family came from.
  • I want to take my family to Grand Manan Island, N.B. to enjoy the beautiful place I was so blessed to spend many of my childhood summers.
  • I'd love to ski again.
  • I want to volunteer in my community.
  • I would love to experience a day at the spa, not that I'm much of a girly girl and the idea of going to a 'spa' totally intimidates me, but who wouldn't want a day to be pampered.
  • I want to learn about home and garden architecture and design, and maybe one day, design our own dream home.  Even if we never get to actually build it.
  • I want to actually have a green thumb and not just rely on my mother and grandmother's skills.
  • I would consider being a foster parent one day when our own children are grown.
  • I want to put my feet up, with the sole purpose of just reading a good book and enjoying the sunshine, with no interruptions.  Unless, someone wanted to deliver me a glass of icy lemonade!   

    Sunday, May 2, 2010

    Sleepy Sunday

    I am the type of person that tends to be full of dreams and ideas, yet I lack the most important ingredient to make my plans happen - motivation.  Today I have so many ideas of what I'd like to get done and projects I'd like to tackle today, but all I really want to do, is curl up next to my sick little boy and sleep the day away.

    Normally, at this time on a Sunday, we'd be zipping down the road, trying not to be late for church, but it seems in this household, we've been passing bugs around for the last couple of months, so unfortunately, we haven't been making it to church very often.  Thankfully, the Lord loves us and speaks to us wherever we are.  Even at home, in our jammies, hair awry, dirty dishes all over the place, laundry filling every nook and cranny of the house.  Our God is omnipresent, and that really is a beautiful thing!

    In previous blogs, I've talked a bit about the depression and anxiety that I've been struggling with for much of my life.  It can be quite consuming at times, even though I'm taking meds to help me, and it can tend to be a road block for me when trying to get things done.  But, thankfully, I know I am in a place now where at least I can dream about things again.  Come up with ideas.  Get my creative juices flowing again.   Something I couldn't have even attempted this past winter.

    As I dream today and attempt to tackle some projects that I've been neglecting for months, I'm going to hold fast to the verse we all know so well: "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:13"  Sometimes, you've heard a scripture so many times in your life, that you really never stop to think about what it says and how it applies to you.  How awesome is that, that with God, all things are possible!  Why then should I keep trying to plug away at things on my own?  A hamster on a wheel that goes nowhere.  It sounds so simple, a basic Christian principal that I have known all my life, but something that we tend to shove in a drawer and bring out only when there's a crisis.  I want to live by that principle on a daily basis, in the big things and the little things that a human chalks up as insignificant.  NOTHING is insignificant in the eyes of God. The Bible tells us that He knows when a single sparrow falls. Insignificant to us, sure, but NOT TO GOD.

    So today, all those little things, the obstacles, the tiredness, the lack of motivation, I'm giving them to God.  When it looks like there's no end in sight to the piles of laundry, the potty training messes, the stack of mail that remains unopened, the projects, I'll look to the Lord to get me to the other side of that mountain of laundry.  To see that project through. To remember, that we all end up potty trained eventually.

    Sunday, April 11, 2010

    "Willow Handmade" Snack Pack GIVEAWAY!

    What a better way to promote a new business, then via your blog during Ultimate Blog Party Week!

    Seriously, you must come check out my friend Stephanie's new business venture!  Her reusable and environmentally friendly snack packs and children's art totes are simply amazing!  Very affordable gift ideas for your loved ones. And, if you're not local, don't worry, her shipping rates are super cheap!

    If you join her fan page before April 30th, you'll automatically be entered into a draw for a free set of Willow Snack Packs!  Trust me, THEY'RE AWESOME!!!

    WILLOW HANDMADE - Facebook Fan Page

    And you can check out her blog here: Diary of a Sewaholic

    Of course, these ones are MY FAVES!

    Saturday, April 3, 2010

    Supernanny Audition

    So, today I auditioned for the Supernanny television show. Well, I might as well have been.  It was a beautiful morning, and a perfect day to get a little shopping done.  I should have realized when Jonah kicked up a fuss for the second day in a row about wearing shorts and a t-shirt (he has this thing about bare arms and legs), that the day was not going to go as swimmingly as I had hoped.

    We got into the car and headed to Timmies to pick up an iced cappuccino to deliver to Daddy at work before we headed into town.  So far, so good.  A donut and milk in Jonah's belly started the trip off just right in his mind.  We then headed downtown so I could do some quick banking, then I thought we'd walk over to the Minds Alive toy store to let Jonah play for a bit and pick out a book and an animal for his collection. Well, after giving him warning (too many times, I might add) that it was time to stop playing at the play stations and go pick his animal, he chose to ignore me.  So I paid for the book and told him it was time to go.  Not what he had in mind.

    The next few moments were a bit of a blur but looked somewhat like this: Humiliated pregnant mother, drags 40lb-fitful-almost-three-year-old out of toy store by one very twisted arm as onlookers watch with smirking glances.  We end up outside on the sidewalk where the audience has now grown significantly in size (gorgeous Easter weekend afternoon in cottage country = very busy!).  Including a very scary looking Easter Bunny handing out treats, to whom I told to "go away" in so many words.  The angry toddler flops to the filthy pavement of Main Street, and REFUSES to move.  The van is all the way down at the other end of the street, not close enough for this pregnant mother to throw a kicking, screaming, 40 pound sack of potatoes over my shoulder without him causing undue harm to the peacefully sleeping infant in my belly.  Great.  Now what?

    The shop keeper of whom's store we were in front of, comes out and closes his door.  I turn even more red.  I try walking away to see if Jonah would follow.  No luck.  Just concerned parents moving in closer thinking that this wailing kid is lost or something.  So I just stand there, silent, for half an hour while he continues to get dirtier and dirtier, sprawled out on the pavement.  His tears are black on his face.  The Easter Bunny comes by again.  I dart him a look.

    Finally a concerned dad and his son get a little too close for Jonah's liking and he decides to get up.  I seize the opportunity and start walking.  Thank the Lord, he follows. Crying and yelling all the way back to the van.  I heave him into his seat, LOVING the sound of the click of his buckle, then jump in the driver's seat and drive off.  The shoe shopping will have to wait.

    So there we were, him now whimpering in the backseat, and I trying to hold back the tears myself, headed home on this beautiful afternoon, to go to bed.

    The book in my bag that I had purchased?  Where the Wild Things Are.  Ironic.  I certainly didn't need a book to tell me where the wild things were.  I had one sitting in the backseat.

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    An old Irish blessing for St. Patty's day . . .

    "May love and laughter light your days,
    and warm your heart and home.
    May good and faithful friends be yours,
    wherever you may roam.
    May peace and plenty bless your world
    with joy that long endures.
    May all life's passing seasons
    bring the best to you and yours!" 

    Happy St. Patrick's Day!

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    Rough Mornings and 'Strawberry Cupcakes'

    Getting up this morning was not really at the top of my list of things to do today.  Which meant I didn't really have anything I had planned on accomplishing today.  I've been wishing away the morning sickness (AKA all day sickness) for months now to no avail, and have now had those joyous pregnancy headaches join along in the fun with the nausea.  Nice.  One thing I know for sure, I'm definitely no supermom when it comes to the whole pregnancy thing.  I guess there'll be no career in surrogacy for me.  LOL!

    But, little mister had no plans of staying in bed, so up and at 'em we were.  After popping some morning sickness pills and a Tylenol, (and a few trips to the bathroom), I decided I was not going to let it get the best of me.  I decided I would attempt to make some 'nuffins' for my little man.  Little did I know, he had no idea what 'nuffins' were anyway, but he was pumped all the same.

    Strawberries are his fruit of choice (and all I had in the house), so strawberry muffins it would be.

    It was nearing lunchtime, so I served him up a muffin.  I asked him what he thought of them, to which he replied:
    "Dese aren't 'nuffins', dey're strawberry cupcakes!  And I need some strawberry jam on dem."
    "Okay, do you want some yogourt to go with your strawberry cupcake too?"
    "Yep.  Strawberry, please." 
    He's a bit of a strawberry junkie.  Anyway, they were pretty yummy, a recipe from the Eagle Brand website (I LOVE every recipe I've tried from Eagle Brand!).  Here's the link if you want to try them.  They do theirs with raspberries, but you could really do whatever fruit you like. I think I'll try blueberries next time.

    Raspberry (or Strawberry) Streusel Muffins

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    Let's Talk - Part 2

    I want to say thank you for the dozens of messages and comments in regards to my last blog post from people I knew and from those I didn't.  It has really confirmed for me just what I had been suspecting.  There are a lot of people, people whom you wouldn't even imagine, going through similar struggles of their own.  Depression and anxiety disorders are so widespread, and they are non-discriminate.

    It is quite freeing to be able to talk openly now and not feel like I have something that I have to hide anymore.  For those of you who have been silently going through tough times of your own, take heart, you do not have to do it alone.  I encourage you to open up to close family and friends so that they can be a support for you, and help you through your battle.

    For those of you just taking your first steps at journeying out of your "black holes" (as one comment I received referred to it), there is nothing better than getting the facts straight from your doctor.  There is also a wealth of information readily available online that you can learn from and be able to share with friends and family.  Of course, you'll want to stick with trusted medical sites for the most accurate information.  Here are a few:

    Loads of information on a wide variety of mental health subjects, including but not limited to, clinical depression and chronic anxiety disorders:
    Canadian Mental Health Association

    Here you'll find information for pregnant mothers who are suffering from depression or have pregnancy induced depression (the onset of depression is not just a postpartum concern):
    Motherisk: Hospital for Sick Children

    I also encourage you to seek out community resources.  Most communities have a local CMHA chapter that provides information seminars that anyone can attend, free of charge.  These are especially helpful for friends and family that have questions and want to learn more.

    If depression is creeping up and must be faced, learn something about the nature of the beast: You may escape without a mauling.   
    ~ Dr. R. W. Shepherd

    Friday, March 12, 2010

    Let's Talk - Part 1

    It's been a while since I last blogged, and a light-hearted entry would seem most fitting to get back in the swing of my blog, but it's not quite what's on my heart today.

    I've been struggling for some time with wanting to open up and share what's been on my heart, not for my own benefit (I am certainly not fishing for attention or sympathy), but for the person or persons out there who may totally relate to what I'm about to talk about, who are silently suffering, and need to hear this today.  A topic that is still so very misunderstood by many.

    Depression. Yup. That. I have been stuggling with depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive tendencies most of my life, but have only been formerly diagnosed and began treatment in 2008.  It is a psychological disorder, but it's just like any other physical illness that requires medical attention. The only difference is, that most people who suffer with mental illness, suffer in silence for way too long, for fear that people would think they were - for lack of a better word - "crazy" or suicidal.  I admit, I was even one of those people.  I think that the biggest misunderstanding is that many people think that depression happens because of traumatic events and circumstances in one's life.  And that it's something that's "just in your head".  Or perhaps not even a real thing at all. Certainly, bouts of depression in one's life can be circumstantial, but generally, people who suffer with chronic clinical depression and anxiety, have a chemical imbalance in their body that causes them to feel this way. And yes, traumatic events, life changes, abuse, what have you, can certainly be the tipping point for someone, but it doesn't always happen that way.  It can often be a long slow boil that lies undetected, or perhaps ignored, for many years.  However, clinical depression can't just simply be talked through or thought away with positive thinking.  There may not be a tangible scan, or an x-ray, or a blood test to show the illness, but it is a valid medical illness.  A very real one.  And it needs to be treated and respected just like any other illness, with equal attention and concern.

    My story...

    As a child, teachers would describe me as a perfectionist.  Kids would refer to me as a goody goody.   But in my mind, I always had to have everything just right, all my ducks in a row.  I couldn't cope otherwise.  When the class was too noisy in kindergarten, I went to the teacher and told her that the class needed to quiet down.  Not because I was trying to be precocious or tattle on the class, but because I honestly couldn't handle the noise.  It stressed me out.

    As a teenager, I aimed for perfect marks.  My notebooks were obsessively neat.  Notes were colour coded and if I made a mistake, I'd rip up the page and start over again.  I wasn't a fan of whiteout.  I spent a lot of time sleeping.  The bus ride to and from school, in the cafeteria during lunch hour, even in class.  It was about the only thing I ever got in trouble for at school.

    In 2006, early in my first pregnancy, I had this fairy tale image of what pregnancy would be like and the joy I would feel having a little life growing inside of me.  Reality set in within the first few weeks.  The already unbalanced hormones and chemicals in my body were running rampant and I soon became filled with such a deep sadness that I couldn't understand, and couldn't admit.  I was pregnant.  I was going to have that little person in my life that I had been dreaming about since I was a young girl.  Yet, I couldn't bear to face each day.  As my pregnancy progressed, my days consisted of waking up around 9am, eating breakfast, going back to bed, waking up for lunch, going back to bed for a few more hours, then waking up just in time to shower and teach piano for the evening, only because I had no choice but to wake up for work.  This continued throughout my entire pregnancy. 

    After my son was born, I had a very difficult time bonding to him.  At this time, I still did not understand what was going on.  I had a very inacurrate picture of what depression or even post partum depression was, and I had no idea that it was exactly what I was dealing with.  I didn't know that the anxiety that I had been dealing with all my life was all tied up in it and that the pot was about to boil over.  I thought the anxiousness that I felt on a daily basis my whole life was perfectly normal and that I was just a bit of a 'worry wart'.  So as I first time mom, the increased anxiety I was feeling I figured was just normal first time mom stuff.  The adrenaline rushes/panic attacks that would wake me with a jolt out of my only ever semi-conscious sleep, again, I chalked up to overtired new mom. I thought that having to carefully match baby bibs to every outfit and then freaking out if the bib (which was obviously meant to catch the spit up) got spit up on, was normal.  I would wake up early to do a load of bibs just to make sure I had a good supply of fresh bibs that would match that day's outfit(s). This was not normal, but I didn't see it that way.

    I didn't understand until around the spring of 2008 when I was driving down a busy Barrie street with my sweet little one year old snug in the back seat, and I found myself fantasizing about driving into a telephone pole.  Then it struck me.  This is NOT normal.

    I told my mom about it, and right away, she opened up about the worry that she, my husband, and other family members had been having.  They had been seeing it for some time, but didn't know how to bring the subject up.  And to be honest, even if they had, I probably would have scoffed at the idea.  I had to figure it out for myself.  They were all very relieved when I finally made an appointment to go see the doctor.  I still felt quite stupid about going to see the doctor, because again, my idea of people suffering with depression were crazy, suicidal people that had experienced some sort of horrible trauma in their lives.  I was happily married, had a precious new baby, a sucessful business, and a stable life.  That didn't fit into my idea of "something to be sad and depressed about".  I didn't know what to say.  I didn't know how to ask for help.  Thankfully, my wonderful doctor, knew exactly what I was trying to say.  That day was probably one of the most significant turning points in my life.

    I was put on a couple of medications, which drastically changed my life within a matter of months. Finally, for the first time, I think ever, I felt like I could breathe.  I could slow down, I could manage, I could cope.  Things just balanced better in my life.  I had better judgement.  I was more rational.  I was able to handle situations and changes in plans with out freaking out or having a melt down.  I was kinder to my husband. I was able to look back on my passed behaviour from a different perspective, and honestly, I was quite embarrassed.

    The fall of 2009 arrived.  I had finally finished my piano studies, and had sucessfully been on medication for about a year and half, and I felt I was ready to have another baby.  The doctor changed my medication to one that was recommended for use during pregnancy.  Still not feeling 100% about being pregnant while taking medications, without consulting my doctor, I went off them cold turkey and next thing I knew I was staring at a positive pregnancy test.  When I went in to see my doctor and told him what I had done, he was understanding of my intentions, but I think in the back of his mind, he knew exactly what was about to happen.

    Within a few weeks, I fell into a place deeper than I had ever been.  I felt like all I was doing was merely existing.  There was no point to anything.  There was no joy.  There was no hope.  I didn't want to socialize.  I didn't care that I was pregnant, and admittedly, wished that I wasn't.  The only word I can think of that describes exactly how I was feeling, was paralyzed.  I couldn't get out of bed, I couldn't bathe or dress my son (or myself for that matter), and it was all I could do to make him a peanut butter sandwich for lunch.  Forget dinner, that would wait until my husband got home from work at 7pm.  I laid in bed or on the couch all day while my toddler sat and watched hours on end of television.  I didn't check my emails, or facebook, and I didn't return phone calls.  Life had all but stopped.  It felt like I was sitting there waiting for a bus that never came.  Like I was just waiting to die.  Wow, even just writing those words now, seems so grave.  (Let me say though, I was not suicidal, I just didn't care if the good Lord decided to come and take me home right then and there.)

    When it came to the point that my mom and my mother-in-law had to come to stay and pretty much babysit me when my husband was at work, I realized that I just could not go on this way.  I had to trust the Lord that he would take care of the health of my baby and trust the doctor when he said my meds were safe, and just go back on them.

    It has been a couple of weeks now that I've been back on my meds and things are leveling out.  I can enjoy things like sunshine (and facebook) again.  LOL!  I'm still very tired and plagued with morning/ all day sickness, which is pretty normal for pregnancy, but I am able to get out of bed again and complete most day to day tasks again.  I can sit and play playdough and colour pictures with my son.  I am a wife and a mom, and I can function in these roles again.

    [UPDATE January 2015 - Please understand that medication is in no way a cure, but valid and proven treatment.  And for many, a necessary life-long treatment.  I thank God for it, for without it, I don't know how my story would or could end.  And I pray that one day maybe there WILL be a cure!  Science is awesome like that!  And it doesn't mean that I don't ever have ups and downs or that I'm free of anxiety (because trust me, I'm not), but it means that life is much more balanced than it was, and I have a new normal.  And I, and everyone around me, is much better off because of it.]

    People who suffer from depression, are very good at faking their way through life.  Most people would describe me as a happy, chipper, person, but as my husband would say, I was putting on my "Customer Service Caitlin" face.  Because depression and anxiety go hand in hand, the anxious part of you wants to mask how you are feeling so that to the rest of the world, it looks like you are handling life just fine, better than fine actually, and that people would think "that person has it all together" while on the inside you are a train wreck.  Because the subject of mental health is so misunderstood, the idea of admitting that you are suffering can be intimidating, especially not knowing what kind of reaction you will get when you do talk about it.  (And, I'm sure there are people who will read this and think that it is even taboo that I am publicly talking about this.)  In 2007, my 23 year old next door neighbour, a very friendly, cheery, helpful young guy, took his own life, unbeknownst to me, while I was next door trying to calm down a fussy baby.  I couldn't understand why such a happy guy would want to do such a thing.  Perhaps, he had been suffering in silence, putting on his "customer service" face each morning when he got up.

    I believe that there are just too many people out there quietly suffering, alone.  Afraid to talk about how they've been feeling, or like myself, having no sweet clue that they might actually have a problem because of a skewed conception of what depression is.  I look back on my life now and everything seems so obvious, but until I could see things from a balanced perspective, I couldn't have seen things the way I do now.

    It is my hope that one day this 'disease' will be better understood, and that more people can get the help that they need.  Light needs to be shed on the subject.  There needs to be more awareness so that it no longer is looked upon as a taboo thing to talk about or suffer from. So there are less tragic endings to stories that will forever remain untold.

    [UPDATE January 2015 - I am so pleased to see how much more aware Canadians are today, five years since I wrote my original blog post.  Sadly, the increasing number of very tragic and public (thanks to social media) losses of many beloved celebrities, veterans, first responders, and youth, etc. over the passed few years have inadvertently drawn significantly more attention to the subject of mental health.  As have campaigns like Bell Let's Talk and many school and workplace initiatives.  People are talking and this is wonderful, but we still have farther to go!

    I often think and wonder if people received the help they needed early on, how many lives could be saved.  How many marriages and relationships would thrive rather than fail.  How many people could be saved from a downward spiral of addiction and other self medicating means.  How much less abuse and crime we would see.  Awareness and education brings hope.  The more we talk, the more people will understand, and the more people will be inclined to open up and ask for help.]

    If you can relate to any of this at all, may I encourage you to talk to your doctor about it.  It could be a pivotal moment in your life too.  And if you have someone in your life already suffering in this area, please be sensitive.  Please educate yourself as much as you can, and be understanding of their different behaviours and coping mechanisms.  Please don't brush off their struggles.  Or forget.  Be the rock in their quicksand.

    Great video, worth a watch >>>  Micheal Landsberg Testimonial (Bell Let's Talk 2015)
    Illness, not weakness.


    Let's Talk - Part 2 here

    Wednesday, January 27, 2010

    Graduation Day

    Well, life certainly has it's way of catching up with you!  Just when you think you've got all your ducks in a row, you're ahead of the game, and just cruising through each day getting things done, things like Christmas happen.  It comes and goes and all of the sudden, you find yourself sitting on the cusp of February, and wondering where the time went.  Oh, well.  It's good to sit down again and resurrect my blog.

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    This past weekend, I was glad to finally close a chapter in my life that I have been waiting to finish for quite a long time.  I finally got to walk across "that stage" and receive my diploma.

    A convocation or graduation ceremony is such a common ceremony, everyone gets to experience a ceremony of this type at somepoint in their life.  Whether it's a kindergarten graduation, a high school commencement, or a convocation.  To the people who put on these ceremonies, they are probably quite routine, a yearly part of their job description, but for you, it's your "special day".  You worked for this.  You waited for this.  You dreamed of this.  You cried for this.  And all of the sudden, you're actually there. 

    In kindergarten, I couldn't wait for our kindergarten graduation not only because I was excited for Grade 1, but because of the treats we knew we would be having afterwards.  I remember enjoying a very melty pink popsicle afterwards, very carefully, I might add, so as not to ruin my dress. 

    Fast forward 22 years.  January 23rd, 2010.  The speeches were uplifting, though generic, like all graduation speeches.  We were treated to a spectacular performance by a 10 year old child prodigy who knocked our socks off.  And then, one by one we each had our turn to walk across the stage to be hooded and receive congratulations by various faculty members.  To them it was routine.  To me, it was once in a lifetime experience and I was going to cherish it.  And, I was not going to cry.  Thankfully, I didn't,  though it was touch and go there for a bit as we paraded into the hall with the Pomp and Circumstance Processional March being belted out by an RCM ensemble.

    It was a great day, celebrated with my sweet husband, my mom and my dad.  And it was everything I dreamed of.

    So as I think about what "my special day" was like, my thoughts are drawn on this birthday day, of a very wonderful man who graduated into a much higher place just a few short years ago.  Certainly not a routine ceremony it would have been.  A day made special just for Pastor Ira and full of much "pomp and circumstance", he would have walked across that stage, received the most wonderful of embraces, and heard the most meaningful words any graduate could hear:  "Well done, good and faithful servant.  Well, done."