Friday, September 23, 2011

A sore shoulder and a roll of packing tape!

So, I haven't been exactly diligent with my updates on my Dancing With the Starts progress. I apologize, but there hasn't been a whole lot to report!!! About 3 weeks into rehearsals, I pretty much had a meltdown (a private one!) because I just didn't seem to be getting "it"! I remember the first time I competed how awesome it felt as each week went by and I felt like I was learning more and more and getting better and better. But this time, it was just frustrating for the first little while. After that little meltdown, I had to take a step back, get back to basics and refocus. I have put so much pressure on myself to "defend my title" that I was psyching myself out right from day one. I've really had to remind myself that this event is not about me and the trophy, it's about raising money for a great cause and putting on a great show for the audience.

Don and I practicing our quickstep!
So, with that renewed focus in mind, I've been practicing my butt off and feeling more and more confident in the past couple of weeks. I have such an amazing dance partner who is so patient and our choreographer/trainer/mentor/amazing woman Trish, has been fantastic throughout this journey. So, I'm thinking I'll be ok! My dances are coming along nicely and we still have 3 weeks before the show. Now it's all about the finessing of the details and really committing everything to memory. Although, last night we did a complete run-through of the show to prepare for tomorrow's dress rehearsal. I did have a mishap and ended up falling and smashing my shoulder blade on the floor! I'm hoping that's just a one off occurrence that I won't repeat!

Which leads me to the real challenge I'm facing... I have a new dress this year for my rumba. Let's just say it's small! And let's just say I'm kinda wishing I'd laid off the chips and dip for the past 6 months!!! And let's just say I'm a tad worried about a possible wardrobe malfunction. So... I am now in possession of just about every brand of costume/dress tape and am armed with a brand new roll of packing tape, which I'm told works wonders!!! A little birdie told me that's what lots of dancers use under their costumes!

So, wish me luck tomorrow as I perform for about 100 seniors at the dress rehearsal. Hopefully there are no falling mishaps. And here's to hoping that the tape all holds up and I don't give any of them a heart attack! I'll report back to you tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dancing With the Local Chick - Revisited!!

So some of you may have been reading my blog 2 years ago when I participated in (and won!) a local Dancing With the Stars competition. If you haven't been following me that long, here's a recap of what happened:

Well, after that event was over in 2009, I was on Cloud 9! I was so thrilled to be a part of such an amazing night and thrilled I could, just by investing some of my time, have an impact on such an amazing organization. So, I agreed to Chair the organizing committee for last year's event. And even though I wasn't dancing, it was such an incredible night. We managed to raise even more money and the show was fantastic.

So, this year, when I was approached to be involved once again, in the final year of the show, I didn't hesitate at all to commit. However, this year, I'm not only on the committee, I'm strapping on the dancing shoes once again for the cause. It's a return of the best from the past 2 seasons. Meaning... I'm on the line to defend my title. I'll be dancing a Rumba and a Quickstep once again. When I signed up, I was told that my dances would be the same as they were 2 years ago and that we would rehearse for 2 months (just as a refresher), rather than the 6+ months we rehearsed the first time around. Well, after my first rehearsal on Monday, I am officially in panic mode. My dances are changing!!!! And I officially have 5 weeks until the dress rehearsal where we will perform for approximately 100 people! OMG!!!

So, stop by my blog once a week for an update on my progress. It should be entertaining if nothing else!!!! Oh, and if you want tickets for the event, please let me know. They're $50 each for a very fun evening and all money goes to Hopespring. The event is Friday, October 14.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The love for a child

Recently someone asked me how it was possible to love a kid, even when he drives you nuts!!! As a young, unmarried girl she was having a hard time understanding how it's possible to not let the "you're driving me crazy" feeling take over and become stronger than the "OMG you're the cutest thing ever" feeling. I struggled to explain and couldn't come up with much at the time, other than to say, "It just is that way!". But then it got me to thinking and maybe this will help her understand!

It all started when I saw that little pink line on the test. First the panic set in... the "OMG, we can't take this back now, are we ready for this?" panic. But after a few weeks when I lost my waist (yes just a short few... by 10 wks I had already gained 10lbs!!!), the love started growing as well. When I felt that first flutter of butterflies in my tummy, it solidified that little feeling of love. But let me be honest. When I was early in my pregnancy I started thinking about what kind of baby I was hoping for. Obviously the main thing was having a healthy baby, but for me it was crucial that I had a girl. I only ever wanted a girl. I didn't have any brothers myself, didn't have any boy best friends... in short, I didn't have a clue what I would ever do if I had a boy. I didn't know how I would play with him and I didn't (and still don't) like talking about poop and private parts. I even joked that if I had a boy I might be tempted to give him up for adoption and try again!!! Ok, I was kind of joking, but in the back of my mind, I was also a little bit serious!!!

Fast forward to 3 1/2 weeks before my due date. I had an appointment with my midwife and she was concerned the baby might have turned and might be breech. She sent me for an ultrasound just to make sure. That day I saw the face of my baby and it looked amazing, not at all like the alien I had seen in the 2 earlier ultrasounds! Again, I felt that love growing. 4 days later I went into labour. 11 hours after my water broke I met the most amazing little baby I'd ever seen in my life. And it was a BOY!!!!! Funny though, as soon as I heard the words "it's a boy" adoption didn't even enter my mind! It was love at first sight.

That first year was rough. Evan didn't sleep more than 3-4 hours at a time. Actually, that lasted for almost 2 years!!! (Ok, if I'm honest, it's only been in the last 6 months that E has been sleeping through the night consistently and he's 5 1/2 now!!!!) And, yes, I was exhausted and no, he wasn't always an angel, but the miracle of watching him grow and learn was enough to keep me going.

And still now, that's what keeps me going and gets me through the not so perfect days. When Evan almost died the first time he tried a peanut, it also showed me how fragile this little life actually is. So, sometimes when he's driving me mental and I'm ready to say "go play in traffic", I close my eyes and think of how it felt to almost lose him that night almost 3 years ago.

If I could explain this love to Sarah now, I'd say that the love of your child is truly unconditional and truly like no other love you could ever experience. I look at my child and think how amazing he is, how he's the smartest 5 year old I've ever seen, how he's the most handsome boy in the world and the most compassionate. And I truly believe all of these things. And every mother I know thinks that of their own child. It's a kind of love that makes you excited to be a hockey mom, even though you despise cold arenas! It's the kind of love that makes you dress up for Halloween even when you hate costumes. Really, it is a kind of love that takes over your heart and soul.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The frightening world of an allergy mama!!!

A few nights ago, I had the pleasure of "meeting" another allergy mama on Twitter (@castletonyoga). We bonded over the fact that we live in constant fear with our allergic children. It got me to thinking about it because sometimes, just for a brief moment, I actually forget that my child could die at any time. I decided to put that fear into words so here it is!

A couple of months ago, I presented a lunch and learn presentation at Mabel's Labels all about being an allergy mama. I wanted to reinforce to people the importance of Mabel's being a nut free work place. I've taken what I've presented and written it here for you all to enjoy! Note that when I was preparing my presentation, the stats that were most readily available were from the US, but I hazard a guess that Canadian statistics would be fairly similar.

  • Peanut allergy is one of the "Big 8" food allergies that account for 90% of those suffered by 21 million Americans.
  • Approximately 1% of the US population has a peanut allergy (that's approximately 3.1 million people!!)
  • Less than 21% of people who suffer from a peanut allergy will outgrow it.
  • Four out of every 100 people have a food allergy
When I first read these stats, I was alarmed. Are you? As I'm sure you all know, the most severe reaction a person can have is anaphylaxis. For those who don't know, this reaction basically can cause the throat to swell to a point where the person can't breathe. And once a person has had an anaphylactic reaction, subsequent reactions can become more and more severe. Let me tell you... this is scary... super scary! An anaphylactic reaction can kill a person in minutes.

So here's why I'm interested in this stuff... 2 months before his third birthday, my sweet baby almost died. (Wow... just typing those words makes me feel sick to my stomach and makes my eyes water and my heart race!) We were out for dinner one night at Moose Winooski's. We had planned to meet friends and when we got to the restaurant, we had to wait a few minutes for a table. To keep him occupied, my hubs took Evan into the bar.. the sports bar with peanuts in bowls on the table and peanut shells on the floor. Now, Evan had some sensitivities from early on so my doctor had advised that we introduce certain foods slowly. Nuts was one of those foods. Evan had never had a nut before this night. Hubs decided to let him try one that night. He took one bite and immediately started spitting it out and saying he didn't like it. Within minutes he got a rash on his face and got extremely irritable and started crying. Since I'd seen him have little reactions to things before I didn't panic immediately. The restaurant is close to our house so my hubs left to go home and get the Benadryl!!!!! In hindsight, I guess this wasn't the best idea, but honestly I had no idea what I was experiencing. (I have not stopped feeling guilty about this for 2 1/2 years!!) While he was gone, I realized that the situation wasn't good. I had our friend drive me to the closest walk in clinic because it was closer to the hospital (again... not the smartest decision)... the clinic was closed for the night! During all of this, poor Evan was alternating between freaking right out and being completely lethargic and dazed.

Finally we made our way to emerg. They took us in immediately. In fact when we went into the emergency area, there were 5 doctors and nurses around a bed waiting for us to come in. They gave E a shot of epinephrine and hooked him up to an IV. According to them, Evan had about 20 more minutes. 20 minutes... that is NOT very long at all. That night I came very close to losing the most precious thing in my life. The doctor in emerg that night gave me our first prescription for EpiPens. He told me that if it happened again, that EpiPen would "buy us 20 minutes to get to the hospital"!!! I always thought an EpiPen was a cure... I learned a lot that night. We now carry an EpiPen where ever we go.

So let me explain what this allergy means to me. It means that everyday things in life are super scary. I mean, imagine sending your child to a birthday party not knowing if they'll have a reaction while they're gone. Even if the parents are aware of the allergy, if they don't live with it daily, they might just think not serving peanuts is good enough. They might not think that if they've eaten peanuts and touch my child, that could be enough to trigger a reaction.

Imagine how scary Halloween can be, and not just because of the ghosts and zombies!!! I personally can't believe they still sell Halloween packages of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Snickers bars. And trust me, they're 2 of my favourites. But they could kill my baby.

And now I'm considering sending my babe to sleep away camp. The camp that I REALLY want to send him to is Camp Kandalore. It's the camp my dad went to and the memories he created there still impact him at 64 years old. But it's not a nut free camp so how can I possibly send him there. He could die there... away from home... without me! It makes me feel sick.

I know for people who don't live with this daily, "nut free" sometimes seems like more of an inconvenience then anything. I've heard other mums at Evan's school talking about what a pain in the butt it is not being able to pack peanut butter sandwiches in lunches. As a mother who's child could die from a peanut butter sandwich, this upsets me. I'm sorry if it's an inconvenience, but I also don't think those mothers would want to live with the guilt of their actions killing my child!

So, there you have it... my reality. It's a scary one but we do what we can to make this world safe for little E.

BTW... since that first reaction, I've had Evan's allergies tested several times. He is now allergic to shellfish, kiwi and coconut as well. I don't know the severity of these allergies, but since I have no intention of EVER going through that night again, I avoid those foods at all cost!

The picture above was taken in emergency about 5 hours after we got there. Evan's swelling had gone down and he was finally able to eat a snack of Cheerios.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Recently the Yummy Mummy Club held a contest about motherhood. Entrants were asked to write about 1 of 2 topics: How motherhood has changed you or How you have changed motherhood. I really wanted to enter this contest, but then I had a chance to read an entry that was submitted by a friend of mine. It was so perfectly written and literally brought me to tears. I knew I had no chance of winning against this entry, so I decided not to submit one of my own! But ever since the deadline passed, I've been feeling the need to write my entry down, just for myself (and whoever else wants to read it!) So here it goes... this is how motherhood has changed me.

In order to tell my story, I have to take you back to who I was before my little treasure arrived! I spent about 12 years living the life of an ad agency chick! For those of you who don't know, this means long, long, very long days. All nighters. 3 meals a day eaten with your work "family". Weekends in the office. Press approvals at 3 a.m. Week long photoshoots away from home. And, on the flip side, lots of fun work parties and "fun days" out of the office. I met almost all of the friends I have in my life right now in those agency years. There's nothing like making a deck of cards out of scrap paper at 4:00 a.m. to create bonds with people!!! You know, back in those days, I worked so much that I honestly don't know how I managed to meet the man of my dreams and actually marry him! I think it may have had something to do with the fact that we met at work!

When I think back, the worst part about it is that at the time, I didn't think there was anything wrong with my life! I absolutely loved my work to the point where I was pretty much obsessed with it. I was the ideal employee... I'd work 20 hr days and was actually happy to do so... all for the good of the company. Of course I felt guilty when I'd call home and tell hubs that I'd be home by 8:00, only to arrive closer to 10 or 11. But not guilty enough to make a change. It got to the point where I started talking to hubs about the fact that I didn't think I wanted kids. This is crazy... I had always wanted kids from the time I was a kid! But for a few years, my love of my work was completely changing my perspective. When I think about it, this is the ultimate in selfishness. I lost sight of who I think I was at the core... a giving, loving gal who had always dreamt of the perfect life... which of course included a perfect hubby, a perfect home and a couple of perfect children!

After some soul searching, I finally made a decision to leave my agency job and save myself! I missed the work for the first few weeks, but gradually I was able to regain perspective. I spent 5 months at home being a stay at home wife and loved every minute of it. Then I went on to spend a year on the client side as a marketing manager. It was a one year mat leave contract and while I was on the contract I got pregnant! It was perfectly timed... I was scheduled to end work 2 weeks before my due date. But, my little man was anxious to meet me and I actually didn't end up finishing my contract!

Let me tell you... when I set eyes on my Evan, it was love at first sight... a kind of love I never knew was possible. The kind of love that made me wonder how the heck I could have ever thought work was more important. And each day since November 20, 2005, I have felt that love grow stronger and stronger. Even on those challenging days, when I tuck him in to bed at night and give him his snuggles and smooches, my heart skips a beat and I can't ever imagine not having him in my life. All I want to do each and every day is make him happy. And at the end of a long day, when hubs and I are talking, not a single day goes by without us saying how happy we are with our amazing little family and how much joy Evan has brought to us both.

So, you ask, how has motherhood changed me? The answer is: in so many ways... It has opened my eyes to the meaning of life. It has made me a less selfish and more giving person. It has taught me patience and taught me humility. And most importantly, it's taught me the importance of having and giving love. It's funny... now I realize that motherhood is the most important job I could ever, ever have.

** None of this happiness would have been possible without having a super-deluxe hubs who stuck by me through all those years of agency life and still loved me at the end of it all. I love him to bits!

Monday, January 31, 2011

The little things in life!

So I've been dying to write lately, but have been coming up dry trying to think of something to write about. Seems that life is fairly routine at the moment. Nothing too earth-shattering happening. But it occurred to me today that in that routine are small, daily things happening that I should be celebrating and rejoicing in. So, here it goes... my daily, normal life, celebrations!

1. Home Reading - Every mother with a kid in kindergarten is familiar with this phrase! Last week, Evan finally started bringing home those little home reading books in his mail bag. It came with a little booklet for me to use to keep track of the reading we do together and to communicate with the teacher about his progress. I love this! I truly love this!!! Here's my little man finally learning to read. And he LOVES it! He wants to read to me at bedtime now before I read to him. He's sounding out words all around us as we go through our days. The downside of this whole thing is that the secret code of spelling words when hubs and I don't want him to know what we're talking about is now becoming obsolete. We'll have to think of a new secret code! Perhaps it'll take him a while to figure out Pig Latin!!!!

2. Patience and perseverance - Let me start by saying that my little lovey has always been pretty high maintenance. He's very sensitive and gets easily frustrated. And he has always given up easily if he doesn't do things perfectly right from the start. He's a perfectionist even at 5. He takes more time on his school work than any other kid in his class. His colouring is perfect. He will erase and start again if his letters aren't just right. And he puts a ton of pressure on himself to be good at anything he does. Hmm... not sure where he gets these traits!

But in the past few months I've noticed a change. Perhaps it's a bit of maturity coming through, I'm not sure. He seems to suddenly have more patience and a better attitude about learning a new skill. Case in point... he just started Hockey Fundamentals. He's skating well but has never had hockey equipment on, nor has he ever played hockey on a team. The first time he went to hockey, there were about 40 or 50 kids on the ice. They did a skating drill to separate the kids into groups. They started them all at one end of the ice, blew the whistle for the kids to start skating and then blew it again to have them stop. The fastest kids went to one group, the middle kids went to one group and the beginners/slowest kids went to the 3rd group. This is great in theory, but my Evan doesn't know how to stop on his skates so he just kept gliding along till he stopped. This put him far enough down the ice to be in the middle group of kids!!! 99% of the kids in the middle group had team jerseys on, which means they all play on teams or have played on teams in the past and are there for more ice time and to perfect their existing skills!!!! This is not my kid!!!! I was immediately concerned. Evan was the smallest in the group (as you can see in the picture above!), the slowest in the group, couldn't stop on skates and couldn't skate backwards. I was worried that he would get frustrated that he couldn't keep up with the other (bigger) kids. In the past, one bad experience would equal giving up. But you know what... when he came off the ice at the end of the hour, he was smiling. He was so excited. His reaction was completely different from what I had anticipated. His words were "Mummy... did you see me trying to stop? Did you see me skating backwards?" I have to admit... I cried a bit that night because I was so proud of him. He's understanding that it's not about being the best on the ice... it's about trying hard and having individual goals and successes.

3. Sloth Be Gone - Okay this one is about me... not the kiddo. It's not quite as interesting but it's still noteworthy for me!!! 2 years ago I started running. I'd never run before. So I set a goal and in October 2009 I ran my first 5k race. My goal was to simply finish and run the whole distance and I did it! I was very proud of myself. I never thought I'd be able to do it. 5k isn't a long distance, it's no 1/2 marathon, but for me it was a goal and I was happy I accomplished it. In the summer of 2010, I set myself a goal of doing a 10k in October. I trained hard for the summer and into the first week of September. Then it all fell apart... I went on my girls getaway to Vegas to celebrate my 40th birthday. Life got busy in the few weeks leading up to that trip and I fell off the training wagon. After the trip I never got back to training. I didn't end up doing that 10k. I felt very sad and even more disappointed in myself. I really let myself down. And then became a sloth!!!! I was miserable about being so lazy but I couldn't seem to get out of the rut. So, in January I thought I'd better do something about it. I signed up for boot camp with a friend of mine. We decided to sign up for one night a week just in case we hated it! But funny thing is we both LOVE it. We get out of the house for our kids' bath time once a week, we chat, we moan and groan our way through this hell class and we feel great! When this session is over, I will sign up for another session and likely do 3 days a week instead of 1. I am a sloth no longer!

So, there you have it. 3 things going on in my life right now that should be celebrated. Sometimes (often) it's not just the big things in life that matter, it's all the small, seemingly insignificant things that matter the most.

What are your little celebrations? Feel free to share them here! And enjoy this little video of my monkey at his first practice!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Are you a good mom?

So, I have this friend (I'll call her KK for short)... I think she's a great mom. But yesterday she emailed me and was very upset. It seems her 8 year old had just discovered packaging for a gift that was supposed to be from Santa. He started questioning her and in her haste to get out the door in the morning, she couldn't come up with a viable reason for why it was in her closet. The cat was out of the bag! She was feeling guilty for not being able to keep the magic alive for a while longer. I think she was also feeling bad because she was scheduled to work late last night and wouldn't be able to go home and have a good old heart to heart with her son to make sure he was okay with the news! She was also concerned about her 8 year old spoiling things for her 5 year old. She was not feeling like a good mom.

But... let me tell you... this is the same friend who schemed and planned for months and months to surprise her 2 boys with a trip to Disney for Christmas. In the weeks leading up to their trip, she was giddy as a school girl. She couldn't contain her excitement. And it wasn't excitement about the trip itself, it was excitement over how the boys would react to the news that they were going on their first trip to Disney (including a Disney cruise!). To me, this is the sign of a good mom.

I started thinking about this last night and wondering why we moms are all so hard on ourselves and why we don't take our own advice. When my little man is upset about not being able to do something perfectly, I talk to him about not being so hard on himself. I say things like "Just try your best. That's what matters!" Why do we not realize this is the same for us? As mothers all we can do is try our best for our kids. Things won't be perfect all the time and that's fine. We need to realize this and not get down on ourselves when things don't go as planned or when we don't have all the answers. We need to listen to our friends who tell us we're amazing and we need to believe them. I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, but this one seems like an okay one to strive for!

That's my pep talk for today!

PS... I'm sharing the Halloween pic because for me, that's just a little example of me being a good mom... You see, I'm really not big into dressing up for Halloween but it made Evan happy to see me as a cat!