Thursday, March 31, 2011

Organizing my head

I am not sure, but I think that today was one of those days.

The nice perk is that today is my Friday, and I am home with the boys tomorrow, and I am feeling a burst of inspiration to do some spring cleaning. It started with organizing my closet a bit tonight when I put some clothes away (nice to have shirts together, then skirts, etc) and then to my socks, and then all the papers around my desk, time to feed the recycling bag again. I feel the need to get the stuff around me together and sorted and perhaps even tossed so I can get my head together too and free of some clutter. Or maybe the secret is just having some quiet time to process and not have someone calling on you ...

Total aside, where the hell do missing socks go? Now that there are 4 of us in the house, I somehow have a stack of unmatched socks. We aren't even talking about a few, I have between 10-15 unmatched socks. Many of them small - when did the boys acquire so many socks??? WTF?

On to my original topic - it has me thinking tonight about the challenges of returning to work after your second maternity leave in to a job that has "expectations". It is funny, I would say I have learned more in the last 9 months than I have in a long time, and yet I have been told that in some areas I am not hitting my stride. For some stuff, I take it on the chin and recognize where the failings are.. for other stuff, it almost feels like micromanaging from my higher up and I wonder if I could have met the expectations - especially when they were really vague and not all that well articulated, or maybe with my current energy levels there just wasn't a lot of inspiration in the tank. I feel like I need to make a list to address some things over the weekend, and then have another conversation, one in which I am prepared, and can have my say as well, rather than just sit there and take it, and respond in the moment, but not necessarily in a thoughtful manner. Mental note - when you want to have a mutually beneficial (even if you don't always see eye to eye) conversation with someone, don't ambush them.. give them time to prepare themselves. The irony is that this conversation feels like it has happened a week late - already been moving on and it feels like things have already shifted... almost funny, but not in a ha ha way.

It also got me thinking - it has been a helluva year. I would whinge a lot here, but I think that I will spare you, my reader, the eye rolling of reading a list full of things we have all had to deal with. End of the day, it is NOT EASY working full-time, being a full-time mom, trying to be a good wife, and a good person to yourself, and then even trying to stay in touch with friends too. Maybe even throw the cats and fish in there for good measure.

So tonight I may even do some work, see if I can find some inspiration sitting here in my jammies and go from there. Sometimes the quiet is just nice.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A fine book indeed

What a fine book. Have I mentioned how much I am enjoying the Inspector Banks series??? I was up until the wee hours of the morning last night finishing off the book while I had the chance. What a great plot, with interwoven strands from the past (World War II) and current day, this was superbly executed. Just enough mystery to keep you wondering until the very end, and some nice character development as well. Since I haven't read this series in order, I am picking up on some information that I missed by leaping ahead. These books are tighly written, well plotted out, and not just a police procedural. The characters evolve, they are flawed, and the crime not overstated and over the top (just enough detail) and the countryside interesting. I look forward to my next foray in to a used bookstore when I can stock up on more of his books.

Now, my next book caught me with the first sentence. As I have been whinging, the last few books I have taken out from the library I have barely held on to for a day. I sat down to start this one at lunch time, and I was immediately enchanted. I am reading Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron, and I can't wait to get further in to it.

This is how it begins -

"I still remember the day my father took me the Cemetary of Forgotten Books for the first time. It was early summer 1945, and we walked through the streets of Barcelona trapped beneath ashen skies as dawn poured over Rambla de Santa Monica in a wreath of liquid copper" Who wouldn't want to continue?

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Is it bad to not let your youngest have a nap because you know it means he will fall asleep easily, and early? Wait, don't answer that.

Well, my dear hubby has been away for a boy's weekend and should get home from the land covered with ice and snow sometime tomorrow night. From the sounds of it, he has had a very successful weekend ice fishing.

My weekend has been good too, in a totally different way, and has gone by incredibly fast. Thursday, when he left, seems like a lifetime ago. Friday was good - boss was away, which was just nice, and I got a fair bit accomplished at work, and then my BFF from when I was kid brought her boys over and we ate pizza, and spankmypitas, and ate candy, and played video games, and then our boys watched a movie while we talked some more. It was just magic. We had baileys on ice, we talked, we didn't solve life's great mysteries, but it was just so nice. It is a real trip to look back over 20 years and remember our 14 year old selves and now her oldest is almost 13. O M G. Watching him move to a dance video game was surreal - he is all gangly and long (all arms and legs right now and changing features as he leaves his boyish self behind) and growing so fast.. it is hard to believe I have known him forever, and his bro... they stayed the night, and we had breakfast and then we parted. They shopped and I took my boys to White Rock, and then we joined up again at her folks on Saturday. I took all the boys to the park, and my gal's youngest asked me how we were related, and I told him that they were family that his mom and I had chosen to be family. He kind of nodded, and I think he got it, and I think he also thought it was kind of cool too. He also called me mom a few times, I don't think he meant to at the park, it is just that I was the mom-figure that was out there with him. Hysterical was him having to take a whiz and running to a tree, and then the next thing I know my oldest's ass is hanging out and he is christening the same tree. It is magic how our kids get along. You can hope for stuff like that but you can't plan it. Shortly after, we headed home and me and the boys crashed out together, pretty exciting. Should I admit I will not win any culinary awards for how we have eaten this weekend??

Today I hooked up with other dear friends, and we went to Rocky Point. It was awesome. A total spring day, and ultimately, where we got married 5 years ago. Funny I have been to both places this weekend (by unconscious design??) ... we watched out kids play, we walked, and talked, and we even geocached! That was cool - watching our kids find the stash, and then trading trinkets. I could see that being a lot of fun as the kids get older. The only thing missing was my man, but I can tell him about it all tomorrow night when we swap stories.

Tonight I finally got some time for me - the boys are asleep and I think I will finally finish the book I am reading, it has only taken me about 2 weeks to get through it, you know, with a few crises thrown in for good measure. Hell, I even got to watch an episode of CSI that wasn't on the PVR!!! Will be interesting to see how this week pans out - I am moving my office tomorrow and we shall see how where I am at with my boss - I think everything is all good, but it has just been strange over the last few weeks... maybe I am just being paranoid because I missed all those days and need to get back in to the groove... also think I need to bring up minutes in our meetings when action things happen, not fun being the odd man out for stuff.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A day in the life..

So much rattling around in my head I have no idea where to start.

How about strange and unusual bits?

Picked up Freedom, by Jonathon Frazier and I can't say it is doing much for me. When I leave work today, I will return that book to the library, pretty much unread. The joys of library books - they are risk free. If they don't capture you in the few little bit, bye-bye! Okay, I will admit I did check out some reviews, and a friend read it recently, and the reviews are all over the board. There are way to many great books out there to waste my time on a book that feels like work.

Almost 5 years married (tomorrow)... and my hubby just left for ice fishing in the northern flatlands of Alberta. The most romantic part? The cards we wrote to each other we pretty close to identical. Awwwwwww. I got a really cool ring too with all of our birthstones in it too!

Most important part, Brandon is doing amazing. His ability to recover is astounding. He is also quite willing to talk about his shunt, and show people his scar. Man, he is one cool dude.

Overall I think I am doing well -getting back in to the swing of things at work, and feeling not quite so scattered. That being said, I am unsure how work is going to treat my time off (I have a great letter from our neurosurgeon) whether it will be compassionate leave or some vacation time, or ?? I am also moving offices. I will be in close quarters with someone I really have no desire to be that close to. *SIGH* It is my old office, but I don't get my old desk. The desk is orientated in a way that I hate, so I will attempt to move some furniture around. I am not quite sure how everything is going to shake out. I can't jump up and down and say that this has been the best of my work times, overall it has been pretty frustrating over the last few weeks. I hope this chapter ends soon. I will make the most of the move - I will bring in plants, and surround myself with things that make me feel good. I will have a window again, and one that opens. I will just ignore the rest. Bah. At least I learned a few years ago how to advokate for myself.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Warning, this is going to be a long post as I wax poetic, and also just unravel the experiences of the last few days. I don't talk about it that much, but our oldest son has hydrocephalus, which is treated by a VP shunt to divert excess CSF to his body cavity. This was diagnosed a few days before his first Christmas, and he had emergency brain surgery to put in the shunt. Since then, I have been scared shitless of the day if Brandon would ever need a revision in case the shunt failed. It has only been in the last few months that I have been been able to let go of some of this fear and stress, learning that it was never when the shunt would need replacing, but if.

That being said, last Tuesday Brandon got a random headache and started vomiting. He reported falling at daycare when questioned, but could never provide a lot of details about this experience, and no one saw him fall. We weren't sure if it is was a concussion, or the start of a flu (he had had a headache when we were in Hawaii with that flu, but he also had a fever and the vomiting and chills), or if it was something else. Wednesday morning Brandon was fine, until just before heading to work, the headache and vomiting came back.

Spent a few hours at home, Ken came home, I went to work... only to have Ken call to say he was really concerned since the headache lifted again, but came back with a vengeance. I came home from work, time passed. We had free tickets to the Canucks game so Ken went with a friend (I wasn't up to leaving or going out), and things just never got any better. A lot of vomiting (never had so much laundry to do in my life), and the headache just wasn't lifting. I had spoken to the neurosurgeon fellow at Children's and since Brandon was cognitively there, and it could have been a concussion, we weren't too worried... yet.

Thursday morning we dropped Connor off at daycare and went in to Children's. We had a CT scan within 2 hours, which really didn't show anything. Our neurosurgeon admitted Brandon for observation, and after a medication to stop the nausea, Brandon stopped vomiting, but the headache continued to progress. Ken went home to be with Connor, and in the wee hours of Friday Brandon's headache reached unreal proportions and he was in a lot of pain -pain not touched by all of the pain medications he was on. He was literally out of his head with pain, and then he would sleep for 20 minutes from exhaustion, until the cycle would start again. With the neurosurgeon and a few nurses, we did a shunt tap at 3am, discovering the shunt was not working. It was time for emergency surgery. It was a terrible phone call to make to your partner at 3am - come... our boy is going in to surgery. O M F G.

The team was assembled, and they were amazing. They didn't know what they would find, but what they found is that the catheter leading from the shunt valve in to Brandon's ventricle was no longer working - they replaced it, and tested the rest of the shunt (which was working and didn't need replacement)- and finished off. Everything was a success, and even in post-op, talking to Brandon, I had my boy back. He was no longer in pain, and was no different than he had been before the headache hit. He looks no worse for wear, a shaved patch on his head, a few stitches, lots of that pink antibacterial wash all over his body (no shower until tomorrow and no bath for a week after that to allow the stitches to fully heal). He is happy again, talking up a storm.

We were discharged from Children's on Saturday and going home was a joy. I have been afraid of a revision all this time, and it was the best thing that could have happened when he needed it. Talking to the neurosurgeon, this catheter is shorter, and better placed in the ventricle, fingers crossed, this should be it. I also know what to look for next time, and seeing him a few days later, already not needing any Tylenol, I am just grateful.

Last night we ended up having a bunch of family over and it was awesome - the best noise you could have asked for. Ken and I and the boys may just need time to get over this, but to have been surrounded by all that love last night, it was just magic. We had Brandon's favourite meal (roast beast, carrots, potatoes, and lava.. and then chocolate cake) and he played lots hockey video games, and we let him sleep in our room again, just because.

This all feels slightly unreal, we are home today and then we are doing a graduated return to daycare over the next few days. I am thankful for FB.. I was a bit nervous about posting something before we went in to surgery, but Ken posted what we were going through, and I am so grateful for the outpouring of positive thoughts. For such a difficult experience, we had amazing care, from the ER staff, to our nursing team, to the people we met in the ward, and our doctors. I am grateful Ken and I are a team in the true sense of the word - you realize how much so when you go through something like this.

Now, life moves on. Brandon is doing awesome, and I am sure at some point in the next few days I will quietly fall apart, and then put myself back together again. I feel grateful, and nothing but gratitude

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Strange Affair

Well, after my foray in to my literary books, I had to go back to one of my tried and true favourites. I am truly glad that my local used bookstore proprietor recommended Peter Robinson to me when I was looking for new authors to read. I have enjoyed every one of his books that I have read, and this one was no exception. I have not read these books in series (you don't have to, much like Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch series) and the more I read, the more I want to read. This book has great characterizations, and the plot is tight. A great way to spend a few hours between the pages, up next is another in the series.

Travel shows

If you have two nickels in your hand, what do you do? Rub them together and go on a trip! Although we don't always get to travel as far abroad as we would like (champagne tastes on a beer budget and those young children we have), when we do have the chance to strike out and see something a little different, we take the opportunity as often and for as long as we can!

When that doesn't work, we live vicariously through others. We stumbled upon the Idiot Abroad (funny stuff) and a friend recommended Departures (funny in a different way, and a little more thoughtful, to say the least) and between the two poles there are some great stories and inspiration for future travels.

I should also give a shout-out to my friends on the Renova, preparing for more adventures! There is something to be said for the gypsy spirit, soaking in all the experiences and sights that you can!

The travel bucket list - places to see and things to do, a never ending quest.

One end of the Spectrum

You know when you are sitting there watching something on the telly, and then you hear a strange sound from the couch, and you realize it is the sound of your husband laughing, giggling, and chortling because what you are watching is just that funny? Check out these best bits from Karl Pilkington's, An Idiot Abroad... especially the bit that there is always a nutter around.. we have only caught a handful of the 8 episodes but they are cued up on the PVR to catch the rest. H I L A R I O U S.

The other end of the spectrum

This is the intro to Season 2 (of 3) of Departures... this is a beautifully filmed and thoughtfully narrated travelogue of two Canadians traveling through some of the more remote regions of the world. Soundtracks are amazng, the cinematography is luxurious and stunning, and the guys are entertaining.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The finished products...

Small and Medium hats (for the boys)

Ken's Viking Hat...I won't admit how many times I tweaked those &*^$@* horns!

My boys.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Damn Horns.

It all started with the movie, How to Train your Dragon. This is a huge hit in our house, with two boys and all, a story about Vikings and Dragons, can you go wrong? I was searching out a hat pattern for inspiration to make myself a hat, when I stumbled upon this website, and this wonderful knitted Viking Hat. I thought it was pretty damn cool, but I didn't have the supplies on hand at the time.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and I kept returning to this pattern. It would be perfect for my guys. So, a few road trips later, and I have three Viking Hats. One I made with 66 stitches, one with 60, and the last one with 52 around. I adjusted the pattern a bit, and the post I did a while back about bobbles was how I learned how to make my first bobbles. It is a very easy pattern, and my only hitch was making the damn horns.

I have made the equivalent of five pairs for three hats. Apparently I learn the hard way. There is a horn pattern attached with this pattern, but I ended up free-forming my horns on double pointed needles. I learned the hard way that "bigger is not always better" and the first pair of horns I knitted on to my hubby's hat looked like Texas Longhorns. Drooping ones at that. Off they came, and several other versions happened. I learned that smaller, tighter horns are better (who knew) and that when you fill them with stuffing, really doesn't work all that well. After attaching two pairs, I had the idea that perhaps I should just use the scrap wool to shove in to the horns, and VIOLA! My problems were solved and the horns looked much better.

Needless to say, I have spent more time on the horns than I did knitting all three hats. This is a simple pattern, and I am grateful that I found it. The hats are a hit, and each of my guys can wear them with pride. It was magic watching Connor put on his hat and check to see if his horns where there.. and then Brandon getting to preschool and running around showing everyone his hat... now that I have improved my hubby's horns.. it will be great how to see it looks now. Makes my simple green hat seem not quite as colourful!

I will post some pictures of the finished hats tonight. I am pretty damn pleased with myself.

Friday, March 4, 2011


I have seen this on a few "best of" books, and when I am surfing the book lists, this seems to be one of the books that appears embedded within the stream of recommended reads.

I can't say that I am over the moon about this book. It was a provocative read, parts of it were really hard to wrap my mind around, some parts I skimmed over (just weren't going anywhere for me) and some parts I paid a lot of attention to. This is told from the perspective of five year old Jack and reveals the story of his upbringing in a 11 x 11 room (a reinforced garden shed) with his mother, whom had been kidnapped seven years previously.

This book is steeped in cultural references, for example, and it is insightful in some ways, and in other ways it fell somewhat flat for me- as a narrator Jack was at times great, and then the story around him seem to fracture and lose track a wee bit - which of course could be the point coming from a 5 year old narrator that has not lived a normal existence by any stretch of the word.

This is a quick and easy read (pretty much read it in a day because of a return trip on the skytrain), and I am sure it will stay with me because it is disturbing subject matter.... but I can't say that I would shout from the rooftops and say, wow, what a book. I am glad I read it so I have an opinion about it... and time to literally move on!

I should also mention I borrowed a copy of The Slap (I was intrigued by the idea, a book evolving out of a barbeque where an adult slaps a kid that isn't theirs) but I got about 10 pages in to it (then surfed some opinions on the book as I wasn't all that impressed) and I figure there are so many great books out there I haven't read yet, and this is a library book, that I will just take it back to where I got it from, which brought me to Room.