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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Bathroom

When we embarked on the monumental task of house building two and half years ago I was really excited.  I was going to have the fun of designing and decorating an entire house exactly how I wanted (well, Trevor had a bunch of say too).  Of course reality hit rather soon when the ideal house blossomed into 150 000 square feet!
Obviously we managed to shrink it down to a normal size and with the odd exception we absolutely love what we have; it functions perfectly for our family and our needs.

With decorating, I envisioned much use of colour and a modern, somewhat trendy home that wouldn't date in two years.  But, with the limitations of a budget (darn lack of money getting in the way!) and extreme time constraints at the end, I ended up with a more conservative traditional house than my mind had dreamed up.  I like it very much, no doubt about that, but it wasn't/.isn't quite up to par with my initial expectations.  We stayed safe and the details that bring a home together didn't quite materialize the way I had hoped.

So where am I going with this?  It's been two years and by living in this house as our family I've been able to scrutinize and analyze my surroundings and I'm ready to make some changes.  I've perused magazines and watched decorating shows and window shopped so little by little new ideas are materializing.  I'm not planning on moving walls or anything, just tweaking and adding - refining, that's the word!  I am on a gradual mission to go room by room and accessorize and spruce things up to relieve my twitching eyes.

Our main bathroom was first.  Old condition?

B O R I N G ! ! !

It is painted  tan, with brown marble-y, arborite counter tops, and brown patterned tile-esque, vinyl flooring and medium-stained maple cabinets.  We bought a plain white shower curtain and ended up with dull, mauve towels and our old black bath mat.  I never particularly cared for it but whatever, it worked.  It is used primarily by Sierra, and soon enough Sawyer will join her, so it has naturally morphed into primarily the kid's bathroom.  Upon thinking about the appearance of that room, I thought I might like a bright, new shower curtain in perhaps a geometric or flower design, with towels to match, to make it a more cheery, interesting room.

Then Trevor and I saw a bright, monkey shower curtain on sale at Bed, Bath, and Beyond over the weekend and we bought it!  From there-on-in the bathroom officially became a kids bathroom.  It is fun and the new shower curtain brings a pop of colour to the room and it required only minimal effort. Again, not quite what my imagination had pictured, but I definitely prefer the feel of the it now.  It is happy.  I also figure that I have my whole life for a serious 'adult' bathroom.  Besides, we have our ensuite to be more grown-up with and I'll likely change the main one again in a year or two anyway!

(disregard those pictures above the toilet, they don't go at all and will be replaced)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

My Southern Vacation

I am marveling at rediscovering these fantastic wonders of being in the booming metropolis of Great Falls, Montana, US of A.

a) CHEAP gas.  Heck we`re paying about $4.50 per gallon.  $3.38 feels like stealing.

b) CHEAP and delicious cheese. I know I sang the praises of Tillamook cheese last summer and I`m singing it again.  They just don`t make cheese like that where we live.  And the cost!!!!  We pay $10 for 775g on sale for semi-decent cheese.  Here we found our beloved Tillamook for $6 for 2lbs (905g).  
We bought five blocks.

c) Blow-out-let`s-get-this-stuff-out-of-the-store sales. Shirts for under $4 are only found at thrift stores `round our parts, here Trevor found numerous  I even found  a shirt for $0.97 at Old Navy - too bad it didn`t fit.

d) Cherry and Vanilla Coke or Pepsi.  It can`t be found in Canada.  I quite enjoy the cherry stuff.  Trevor says it tastes like cough syrup.  The funny thing is, Coke products were all on sale at Target and there was not a case of Cherry-Coke to be found.  I blame my fellow Canadians.

e) Casinos everywhere!!!  I counted over 20 in about one and a half miles.

f) Apparently the people of Great Falls like tacos.  There are nearly as many taco joints as casinos.

We`re very busy enjoying a weekend spending money and helping keep the US economy going while relishing the relaxing break from our kids.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


It began with sore feet.
Trevor came home one day and declared it time for him to buy new shoes.  His feet had started regularly hurting him.   A natural hazard of walking on a hard concrete floor all day is aching feet which becomes worse when shoes have seen better days.  In this case, worn out shoes were the logical object of blame.  New shoes were purchased..  He bought good quality ones and anticipated immediate relief.
Unfortunately that was not the case.
Some days were better than others; mornings consistently the worst.  Trevor literally hobbled around in pain "like and old man" for the first bit after waking.
He tried chiropractic which resulted only in slight, temporary improvement.  Advil/Tylenol only masked the pain.  Finally Trevor went to his doctor in mid-October who wasn't able to offer much beyond suggesting regular Advil to counteract the inflammation and advised coming back in a month if there was no improvement. It was a little soon to pursue any additional action.
A month later Trevor was back.
This time his doctor speculated that Trevor may have contracted a strange virus that was manifesting itself through foot pain and would eventually exit his body and all would be well.   Unsure, though, Trevor was referred to a foot specialist and got an appointment in early January.
So he continued popping Advil and hobbling.

December 24 Trevor noticed stiffness in his hands that continued for over a week.

Our hearts dropped.
Not just a foot problem anymore.

Back to the doctor.

A plethora of blood testes were run.

He was called in to his doctor's office near the end of January and was told that the tests all came back negative.  Trevor then presented a theory that he may have contracted Lyme Disease, agree that anything was possible his doctor  had another blood test performed.

Then in the first week of February a late result returned from the first round of tests.
It pointed to Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).

Not the news we wanted to hear.  We were kind of hoping for Lyme Disease.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is where the body's autoimmune system gets confused and attacks the joints and, more rarely, can also go after internal organs.  There is no known cause or cure but there is treatment.  Trevor was referred to a Rheumatologist who we saw just over a week ago.  The initial diagnosis was indeed confirmed and Trevor was prescribed an aggressive assortment of drugs.  They are very optimistic that the drugs will greatly reduce the swelling and pain and that Trevor will be able to live and function normally.
So for now we wait for four plus weeks and pray that the medication does what it is supposed to.

It has been seven long months since Trevor first came home complaining of unhappy feet.  Having a husband who feels old and unhealthy the majority of the time is very hard.  I get to hear him moan and groan and sigh as he attempts to get himself going in the morning.  I get to watch as he is barely able to take those initial steps into the bathroom after he first wakes up or can scarcely force his fingers to bend.  I watch as he constantly flexes his hands throughout the day and observes their varying degrees of swelling.
He can't wear his wedding ring any more.
Depending on the day and the time of day there are many simple tasks that require one's hands that he cannot accomplish.
He can't pick up is one year old son in the morning - this has been the hardest on him.

I am constantly asking him if he is able to do something.

I don't blame him for any of this.  It is a fact of having RA.

There are many times, him probably more than me, that we are resentful of this all.  We have done our best to keep our chins up and think,
"Hey!  At least this isn't something that's typically life threatening!"
"Many people suffer from RA and live full and normal lives thanks to the drugs available."

I have had to step up to the plate with many seemingly small things, like always being the one to get Sawyer out of his crib and unscrewing sippy-cup lids.
We suspect that Sierra's frequent bathroom visits are a reaction to the stress present in our household.  Not just the RA but we had colds and such for a month too.  So we made the joint decision to no longer show or talk about any illness or not feeling good in front of her; as far as she is concerned we are fine.

I feel like I have to remain positive, compassionate and understanding with Trevor.  Most of the time that isn't all that difficult, I love him and that's what wives do.

I didn't realize how mentally finished I am until last week when I received some inconvenient news and could hardly keep from crying throughout the rest of the day.  (the news itself was minor, but was the catalyst)  (the ridiculous time change also hasn't helped because extra tiredness was added to the mix)
It is hard work living with the reality of RA and I'm not even the one with it!

Now I have just created a pretty bleak picture here and while there are definitely some pretty dark and sad moments we are getting through this.
It's the waiting game until the drugs take effect.

We draw our strength from God and lean heavily on the faith that He will get us through this.

Psalm 34: 17-19
"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him form them all.   "

Psalm 40
I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted my out of the slimy pit,out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.  Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done.  Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.  The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare."

We are called to worship Him in good times and in bad and while that is definitely challenging we are doing it.  The other day (my crying day) I was tired of "waiting patiently" and had a couple of meltdowns and was ready to throw my Bible.  Then the next morning, after a good sleep, I simply decided that I would take to heart the Psalm "This is the day the the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it." because that would pass the day much nicer than moping.

There will be an end and and we will push through.  Then we will look back and see how much stronger we have become.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Why Did The Trampoline Cross The Fence?

Because it was that freaking windy yesterday!!!!

  See the gravel patch bottom right? - Trampoline's home.
See the five foot high chain link fence across the centre of the photo? - What Trampoline had to 'jump'.
See the trampoline left centre? - Trampoline's end to its travels.

I wish we had been around to see a trampoline in action. 
It seems mostly unscathed by its adventure, a little muddy and bent in a few places but otherwise okay.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Recent Delights

Most people who know us are well aware that Trevor and I have become somewhat coffee snobbish.  We've developed a taste for higher-end coffee and if there one thing we splurge on in our grocery budget it is so we can enjoy a quality cup of java in the morning.  Two years ago we received a French press and made the switch from a drip coffee-maker.  We found that the simple act of pouring boiling hot water over the grounds produced a much richer flavour than the drip style.  Through various conversations with fellow coffee connoisseurs we also heard that the type of bean grinder used also makes a noticeable difference in the taste of coffee.  So with money from Christmas and, after much research by moi, we purchased a this Burr style coffee bean grinder.

Guess what?
Those people were right!  Because a Burr grinder produces a more consistent grind the taste of the coffee is definitely stronger with more intense flavour.  (and I love how the red - yes I did actually buy it in red - grinder looks on my kitchen counter.

I went bra shopping with my mom last Saturday and while I was successful in that endeavor I also bought this fantastic pair of shoes!

Naturalizer Annabelle Shoe

They are from Naturalizer and are super comfortable and look great with jeans and dress pants and skirts.
And the best part?
They were on sale for $39.99!!

These are the sunglasses in the root beer colour that I am going to purchase to replace my driven over ones.
Now here's a plug for Maui Jim sunglasses (and no, they are not paying me or giving me anything to say this): In short, I love them.  Their lenses are comparable to none - and I've had the privedge of wearing many brands of sunglasses (Oakley, RayBan, Dior, Burberry) and although those are all quality sunglasses there is something about the Maui Jim brand that elevates my opinion of them over and above the other brands.  Glare control, clarity and durability (for the glass lenses anyway, plastic or polycarbonate lenses aren't neary as scratch resistant,  They also don't hold up too well under the weight of a van but I won't hold that against them!) are superior.  If you are willing to spend a little money I'd say these are hands-down worth it. I've owned only two pairs in nearly ten years (I actually still have my first pair but they are small and very out of style) and even had a warranty issue with one of them that the company dealt with efficiently and no-questions asked.

Last but not least and mostly for the fun of the fashion I ordered these sunglasses too! I actually ordered then before the 'incident' involving my Maui Jims.

(Sorry for all the links but I could not get the images to paste properly)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ups and Downs Part II

Down: I spend three hours in the ER on Friday with Sierra because she is having serious bathroom going frequency issues.  It has become her second home.
Up: Sierra does not have diabetes or a urinary tract infection (initial results on the UTI),
Down: She still runs to the bathroom at least once every half-hour!! 
Up:  She is not in any pain and basically is her usual perky self.
Down: My sunglasses somehow made their way from the passenger seat to the garage floor and- you got it - they got driven over.  No amount of amazing opticianry skills can repair those babies.
Up:  Working in the industry means that replacement cost will be significantly less than for most people who drive over retail $225 sunglasses!

Down: My sleep deprivation and stress tolerance was pretty much at its max.  
Up: My parents took the kids Friday evening and for night so Trevor and I had a most fantastic date and an even more luxurious sleep-in on Saturday morning.
Down:  It is still freaking cold and snowy.
Up:  I snubbed my nose at the -17 temperature and went for a walk anyway today.  The sun was out and the snow was beautiful and it was definitely invigorating.
 Down:  I've eaten terribly as of late and my heartburn/indigestion is acting up.
Up : My embarrassingly poor diet hasn't hurt me in the weight department.  I know I must get back on track or I will pay.
Up:  Round two of my antibiotics finally did the trick in killing the nasty germs that have infested my body.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Being Real

* don't read this if you can't handle a little whining (ok, a lot) 'cause that's what this post is.

1. I feel as though we are in the midst of the winter that will never end.  It slammed into us in November and it's either been frigidly cold (highs of -18!) and snowy or slightly warmer with wind that has the enthusiasm of a hurricane (80kms/hour).   I am incredibly weary of this winter and although I am usually ready for spring/summer every year when it comes this year I will welcome it with open arms and hug and kiss it and not let it go.

2.  Since the last weekend of January we've gone through enough Kleenex to warrant owning shares.  The volume of snot that has been produced in this household is magnificent and has been unending as this perpetual cold cycles over and over.  I've phoned and visited my doctor and the walk-in clinic enough that I'm on first name basis with all the staff.  Trevor is the only one to avoid antibiotics so far (but he has been sick)  and I'm about to begin my second round of drugs!!!!  On top of colds and ear infections and coughs Sierra manged to get a urinary trace infection and is running to the bathroom every fifteen minute - half-hour.  Oh, and the other night she barfed all over her bed and I was sure the flu was accosting us as well!  As it turns out I think it was just some old mac'n' cheese that didn't agree with her because her vomiting ceased after one episode and she's been fine since.  Then add Sawyer teething to the mix.....

3. While we're on the topic of illness - Trevor has recently been preliminarily diagnosed with a rather unpleasant disease.  It is not life-threatening or anything but it will affect our lives.  He sees a specialist next week and then I'll be able to fill you in with specifics and details.  This entire ordeal started last fall and it has been incredibly stressful and weighing.

4.  While we're on the topic of weight, my weight loss and fitness goals have taken a distant back seat with the germ infestation that we are battling.  I haven't gained any weight back, the strain is helping that.  But I sure haven't eaten with great care or attention and the exercise has been intermittent,  I don't have the energy to even care right now.

5.   Speaking of energy,  I believe I would pass out some days if it weren't for caffeine or sugar.

6.  Trevor's and my relationship is suffering.  Our marriage is still rock solid and there is no question that we love each other but being in survival mode for this long is taking its toll.

7.  I know many people who are feeling the effects of our long winter and sickness so the general mood  surrounding me is a bit heavy and that doesn't help mine.  None of this is anyone's fault and we are all gallantly trying to keep our chins up and mouths smiling but underneath we are furiously paddling and the leg cramps are getting to us!
 I recognize that I'm in no unusual or more difficult position than many mom's or other non-mom's for that matter.   We all have our difficulties. I also know it will get better.  But I am plumb worn out and not feeling much hope of breaking through the surface of this pool I'm in, so at this exact moment I'm having trouble dealing with it all.  I get a little break here and there and although they are welcome reprieves all they seem to do is tease me with what I truly need.  My doctor looked at me said it is no wonder I've been sick for a month, I'm totally run down.  Then as she leaves she tells me to pack my bags and go somewhere warm for a week (jokingly of course).  
Could she please write a prescription for that and require my benefits to pay for it?