Monday, February 28, 2011

mental health monday: wish, hope, dream.

My scavenger hunt team "The Dreams" in Hollywood Studios.  We totally won.  By a landslide.
Oh what a little sunshine can do!  I had the pleasure of spending this past weekend in Orlando at Disney World with the crew for a retreat thanks to the generous folks at Disney World.  I will be posting more about our adventures on my Autism Traveling Mom blog tomorrow for Travel Tuesday but let me just say holy smokes it was a blast!

The weather was incredible (a treat after leaving Toronto just as a snow storm started).  I felt like my body was saying "thankyouthankyouthankyou" every time I stepped outside and soaked up that vitamin D.  I swear my depression would all but disappear if I lived in a place where it was warm and sunny year round.  On my second day at Disney, we got treated to a scavenger hunt and my team - The Dreams (that's us in the photo above), kicked some major booty.  It was fun exploring Hollywood Studios with my new friends Mary (EastCoast Traveling Mom), Christy (Food Allergies Traveling Mom), Diana (Traveling Grandmom), Holly (Culture Traveling Mom), and Desiree (FamilyFun Traveling Mom).  While I didn't go on any rides (totally not my thing), I enjoyed getting to take a bunch of photos of the park and sharing some laughs with my Traveling Mom crew! 

I must mention my "Disney Ah-Ha" moment, which happened on our first night.  One of our Disney hosts - the lovely and blingalicious Laura Spencer - was speaking about why she loved working at Disney.  She said that the three words that summed up Disney for her were "wish, hope, dream".  As cheesy as it may be, this is also my mantra when it comes to Max, and how I think about his future.  I hope to take him to Disney in a few years, once we are all settled in with his service dog, though I think my next trip will be with Cameron and my mom for a girl's princess trip. 

A BIG thanks to Disney for hosting us! I can't wait to come back!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

me and charlie sheen at disney.

Charlie Sheen's hand prints from back in the day at Disney World Hollywood Studios Grauman's Chinese Theatre
Day 3 at Disney World and I have only been to two parks - Hollywood Studios and Epcot Centre (though we are staying at Animal Kingdom). This place is pure happiness and sunshine. I think maybe Charlie Sheen should come back here again to get inspired and clean up his life.  Maybe bring his kids and ex-wives and watch some fireworks, wear some mouse ears.  I have a lot more pictures to post once I get back to Canada.  Not to worry, I have plenty of princess gear for Cameron!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

be awesome instead.

if only it were that easy!
Every morning I give myself a little pep talk.  It goes something like this:

Hey you in the mirror. Yeah you.  I know you don't feel like getting dressed, taking the kids to school, going to work, sitting in your office, running errands, and doing the same old shit you did yesterday. Get over it. Make it a great day. Be the awesome person that makes people smile. 

Some days I knock it out of the park.  Most days I deliver on what is required of me.  And on a few days, I do not meet the "Awesome" guidelines and "the sad" wins out.  That's the thing about depression.  Even on the days when you get enough sleep, take your meds, exercise, have great hair and cute underwear, it is there, waiting.  My kids don't care.  My husband is likely tired of hearing me mumble stuff about feeling down.  The folks that pay me to sit in my office most certainly don't give a damn.

Lucky for me, today I am not doing the same old shit.  Today I am heading down to Orlando to meet up with the crew at Disney World.  We're getting put up in Animal Kingdom for 2 nights and doing a bunch of geeky social media/blogging stuff.  Did I mention I'm going to Orlando?  Yay me.  Little trips away like this are important for me.  I get to recharge, learn a bunch of new stuff, and have an easier time being "Awesome".  Besides, I don't think you're allowed to be sad at Disney's in the Mickey Mouse handbook.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

time sneaks up on you.

It seems like yesterday that Max needed a stool to reach the light switch. Sharp things in drawers were safe because he couldn't get his hands up that high.  Locked doors remained locked, the freezer door  safely shut.   Almost overnight all of that has changed.  It is now Cameron who needs a stool to reach the light switch.  Max is so tall he looks down into the utensil drawer.  He knows how to pull up a chair to unlock the top latch on the front door, and the freezer door...well, forget  about it. 

Max is no longer my baby, toddler, or even little boy.  He is now a BOY.  Size 6 clothes, 52 pounds, 100% viking stock.  I find this hard to wrap my head around.  Other changes have developed in tandem with his skyrocketing height.  When I ask him to bring me something (like his plate from the table), he does it.  This morning when I told him it was time to go to school and to come downstairs, he did it.  More and more I don't need to repeat myself.  Max hears my request, processes it quickly and is able to execute it.  I do not take this for granted. 

In a lot of ways, he is just a regular (almost) 5 year old.  He likes to rough house with his dad, tease his sister, watch movies, run around outside, and climb furniture (and his dad) like a jungle gym.  His expressive language is progressing as well.  Yesterday Scott asked him if he wanted an orange and Max looked at him and said "no".  This morning I asked him what he wanted for breakfast and he told me "cinnamon toast".  When I told him we didn't have any, he told me "waffles".  It's exciting to see all of the hard work we have all put in coming to fruition.  And then I realize that if Max hadn't received therapy prior to his funding coming through next month, none of these great strides would have been made. 

We are so incredibly blessed to have the family we do.  Without all of their support, there is no way Max would have been able to receive the intensive treatment that has led to his incredible progress over the past 2 years.  I don't say thank you nearly enough, so I'm saying it again.  Thank you. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

getting back on the p90x wagon after the flu.

I started P90X on December 26th and up until last week I hadn't missed a single workout. Even on the rest days, I opted to do the optional Stretch workout. Everything was going smoothly until the end of Week 7, when the flu that had taken Cam, Max and Scott down finally brought me to my knees.

Lucky for me, I was headed into my recovery week, so if I was going to get sick and miss workouts, this was the week to do it. I still felt awful about missing my daily date with Tony though. I had been so dedicated up until this point! I really was kicking myself for not following the P90X schedule perfectly (that's not a surprise for anyone who knows me).  I'm either all in or not at all.

But then it came to me.  Getting sick was actually the perfect challenge.  Acing P90X for 90 days is not what my ultimate goal should be (though it is a terrific challenge and definitely something worth doing and celebrating).  Incorporating exercise into my life on a daily basis is what I am shooting for.  Getting knocked off the horse gives me an opportunity to prove to myself that I can get back into my exercise routine after a much needed rest.

I decided that instead of taking up where I left off, I would start Week 9 on my original schedule.  The first two workouts back have kicked my ass, but I think I made the right call.  I plan on doing P90X again after I finish this round, so I'm sure I'll get the chance to do that recovery week next time.  I am starting to see some changes to my overall physique which is keeping me motivated to push through this last phase! I took this picture on my blackberry last week (it really doesn't show much progress but trust me, things are happening).  I think the before and after pictures are going to blow your mind!

a farewell to soo-soos.

All indicators pointed to operation "get rid of the damn soo-soos already" being a hugely challenging endeavor. Rumblings of the "soo-soo fairy" coming to give Cam's soo-soos to a baby in need were met with "NO! I'm NOT a big girl!!". We decided to choose our battles carefully and the battle of soo-soo ridge was relegated to another day at some point in the future. Yesterday afternoon was "the future".
Cam, who has had the same nasty bug as the rest of us, has also inherited my sensitive skin.  The combination of a constantly running nose and the soo-soo being pressed against her face has given her a terrible rash around her mouth.  Yesterday it was particularly bad and I thought to myself "enough already".  I sneakily gathered up all of the soo-soos in the house and put them away.  Oddly enough, she didn't ask for a soo-soo for the rest of the day, not even at bed time.  This morning she looked up at the shelf where her soo-soo collection used to reside and asked me where all her soo-soos went.  I told her "we're all done with soo-soos, the soo-soos have gone away".  Cam looked at me and nodded and said "yes, I'm a big girl".  And it was that easy.  Go figure.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

dining room makeover 2.0

After being sick for two weeks, we are finally starting to feel better. I should put the stress on starting as we are all still coughing and Max and I are definitely feeling more bad than good. Aunt Jennifer arrived for a visit to discover our house in shambles. That's what happens when we're sick - everything falls apart.  The worst room was the dining room.  You may recall that I did a dining room makeover last summer.  Well, #diningroommakeover #fail.  The problem, as Jennifer explained it to me, is that I didn't set up a system (like the one she put in place when she reorganized my kitchen last year).  So, while cleaning up got rid of the crap, it didn't address the issue of me needing a place to put all my crap that was bound to accumulate.

Jennifer took some before pictures so we could bask in the after makeover glory:

The first thing Jennifer did was come up with a plan.  This way we wouldn't end up buying a whole bunch of stuff we don't need at the storage solutions store.

Like the organizing pro she is, she stuck to her plan: 

Then she went to town:

Cam wanted to make sure she didn't get rid of her sticker collection:

Check out this cool coat rack by umbra! Those hooks fold back when you aren't using them.

She made me get rid of all the crap in the corner (fair enough):

Now, we have a system:

Finally, TA DA!  Thank you Aunt Jenny!!  You always leave our home better than the way you found it! And yes, I know I am very, very lucky to have such a great friend.

Friday, February 18, 2011

the benefits of having a child with autism.

No, that's not a typo.  I really did title this post "the benefits of having a child with autism".  It came to me while I was driving to the bank yesterday when I realized that were it not for Max, I would never have met Kim Pace.  She is a pivotal person in Max's journey.  She is the first person who reached out to us.  She is the person who immediately saw Max for the awesome little dude he is.  When I have struggled, she has lifted me up and given me hope.  Our journey would have been very different without her.

There is a long list of people I never would have met if not for Max's diagnosis.  I doubt I could list them all if I tried.  Because of Max I have met some of the strongest, most generous of spirit, patient, and insightful individuals in my community.  Whether they were reaching out to me as a mom of a newly diagnosed child with Autism, or giving me a knowing "ah, you're one of us" looks when we realize we both have children with special needs, they are all in my life because of Max.

Being a parent of a child with special needs also teaches you to see the world through a more forgiving lens.  You become acutely aware that we are all works in progress.  Some of us wear our challenges on the outside for all to see.  Some hide them on the inside  (but they are most certainly still there).  You also take a serious look at how you define "happiness" and "fulfillment" and likely come to think of them in very different terms than that of your pre-Autism self.

Priorities and scales of importance change.  It becomes very easy to not "sweat the small stuff' as you simply don't have the energy or time.  You become more observant and notice people who do not fit the mold.  Any fear or apprehension you may have felt previously when in the presence of a person with special needs disappears as you know they are "your people".

You become a better communicator, and you learn to receive information through more than just words.  Max tells me things with his eyes, through is touch, and the sounds he makes when his words don't come out clearly.  I speak much more succinctly and choose my words more carefully.  Negative reinforcement is not effective with children with Autism (or anyone, really, for that matter).  This changes your speech patterns from "No climbing!" to "feet on floor".  It's amazing how the shift from defaulting to "no" to communicating what you actually want someone to do changes a situation and creates a more positive outcome. 

I don't say all this to blow sunshine up your derriere or to pretend that I am happy to have a child with Autism.  It is more of an acknowledgement of the life lessons I have been afforded because of Max.  I truly believe they have helped me grow and have changed me for the better.  And I can't imagine my world without people like Kim Pace.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

why are you hiding?

After taking Max to Oakville Trafalgar Memorial ER last week, my first inclination was to call to tell someone there what a great job the nurses, x-ray techs and doctors had done with Max.  It wasn't to write a blog post about it.  The only reason I wrote a blog post about our experience was because when I tried to find someone to give our positive feedback to, the best I could do was an email address for the public relations department.  I called the ombudsman's office and got a voicemail message that clearly suggested the only folks calling the ombudsman are ones who have complaints.  As a last resort, I figured I would email the hospital CEO to let him or her (??) know what a super job his or her team is doing,  but after searching high and low, I could not find a name or email address anywhere on their website.  Which I found odd.

Why wouldn't the head honcho of any organization want to put his or her hand up and say "heck yeah, the buck stops with me - I'm the leader"?  I know that not every company is facebook and not every CEO is Mark Zuckerberg, but it isn't a lot to ask for the names and contact information of the executive team of any company to be made publicly available in an easily accessible forum (like their website).  I don't say this to pick on the hospital - not by a long shot.  I say this because it is not a unique experience. 

ErinoakKids is in the same boat.  I've done the leg work and tried to speak to the person who runs the place, but only got as far as her executive assistant (a lovely woman).  The lack of transparency is very old fashioned and not with the times at all.  In a world where I can order pizza through my iPad, I expect to be able to at the very least, find the name of the leader of an organization within one click off their company homepage. 

Providing your clients, patients, or users with access to information about the people who run your company is a good thing.  Accessibility to decision makers gives credibility to your organization.  Transparency on how you are structured, do business and who works for you is not going to give away the Caramilk secret and be the death of your business - it will do the opposite. 

Social media is rewriting the rulebook on how companies behave.  Those who continue with the game of hide and seek will be forced to get with the program or even worse, be deemed untrustworthy and left behind.  For all you know, someone out there is trying to pay you a complement or tell you how much they like your product! Wouldn't it be nice to find out directly instead of through a google alert, or twitter?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

erinoak ibi therapy funding for max after 27 months.

This afternoon we got the call.  The call we have been waiting for since Max was diagnosed with Autism in December of 2008.  Max's name has finally come to the top of the Erinoakkids IBI funding wait list.  This means that as of March 1st, we will no longer be footing the entire bill for Max's essential behaviour therapy.  A huge financial burden has been lifted off of our shoulders.  We can finally exhale.

I thought I would feel overjoyed when Max got picked up for funding.  I thought I would want to dance in the streets.  But I don't and I didn't.  What I'm feeling is more a huge relief (and I'm also in shock because it really felt like this day would never come).  When I got home from work today and saw Max, I wanted to cry.  For him, for us, that we somehow made it, and that facing this period of adversity has shown us just how many people are truly rooting for our family, for Max.

I'm going to keep sending positive energy out into the universe as it seems to be coming back tenfold.  Time to pop the champagne.

Monday, February 14, 2011

my valentine's day message to you: go love yourself.

Valentine's Day is not really my thing. I don't hold out for sweeping romantic gestures or feel the need to cover my bed with rose petals. Last year my present to Scott was to clean up our bedroom.  The year before that I wrote him a blog post.  This year I'm too sick to do either (though Scott told me yesterday that he is taking me to see Janet Jackson when she comes to Toronto in March so that is just about the most rockin' Valentine's Day gift evah).

This morning I put on the aquamarine necklace that Scott gave me the night before we got married.  I don't wear it nearly enough and what better day than today?  I also gave myself a Valentine's Day gift - a market tote from Gussy Sews.  Hey man, I'm worth it.  You're worth it too.  My recommendation, regardless of whether you are in a relationship or not, is to treat yourself to something today.  For my single friends, there is no need to bemoan the fact that you have nobody to celebrate Valentine's Day with.  You are enough.  You are worth loving.  Love yourself!  Remember, you teach people how to treat you, so treat yourself right! 

As for the rest of you, enjoy your dinner out, wine and knocking boots.  I'll be the one curled up in a ball under the covers (of my super messy bedroom) coughing my lungs out. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

welcome to the shit show.

I don't know who this lady is, but I wish she'd stop touching the washer/dryer set of my dreams.
Conversation at the Carefoot home last weekend:

Me: not again. Max. Ugh. I am so tired of this. Scott….

Scott: Seriously? Again? What is that, the fourth time today?

Me: Yes.

Scott: We live in a god damn monkey cage.

Me: I don’t think I have it in me to scrub shit out of the carpet one more time.

This is a sensitive topic. One that I have delayed writing about because I like to focus on the positive stuff with Max, and quite frankly, this subject is one I prefer not to think about.

We started toilet training Max during the summer of 2009. It has been an ongoing process, one that we have yet to see the other side of. For the most part, Max urinates in the toilet. There are certain people he will not do this for (new therapists tend to get the worst of it), but as long as we take him to the toilet on an hourly basis, he does not wet himself. I should point out that he has to be prompted to go to the toilet, and he typically complains by whining or crying (depending on who is taking him). The funny thing is that once he pees, he looks overjoyed and loves the praise he gets for eliminating in the toilet.

That's right, "eliminating".  We have all sorts of pc ways of saying "peeing in the potty". Pee is not pee, it is referred to as #1 or urinating.  Even though I feel like screaming "I can't believe you just pissed all over the front hallway" when Max gleefully hoses down anything within stream, I have to remain calm.  Ideally, I will give no reaction at all because any response will be deemed as reinforcement of the behaviour.

Back to eliminating though.  Poop is not poop, it is referred to as #2, defecating or preferably "BM" (bowel movement).  Having spent almost every morning of the last 3 months scrubbing shit out of our carpet, wiping down walls, and doing endless loads of laundry on "hot" with tide with bleach, I can tell you that when you are knee deep in it, "BM" is not what you are calling it.

The most frustrating thing about Max's behaviour is that he actually knows when he needs to have a BM (I'm going to refer to it as such for the remainder of this blog for the more sensitive of my readers).   Many mornings he will hop out of bed, remove his pull-up, squat and have a BM on the floor.  Of course, that isn't good enough, he then steps in it and jumps back into bed.  Imagine waking up to that every damn day.

We are doing our best to break this habit/behaviour/love of poop by getting up much earlier and waking Max up before he has a chance to do his thing.  From a behaviour training perspective, all we can do is positive reinforcement (which is a stretch in the absence of the behaviour).  "Yay Max! Good job keeping your pants on!" doesn't outweigh whatever joy he is getting out of taking a big ol' dump on his bedroom floor (and the $400 rug I lovingly selected for his room before he was born).  Better yet, given the opportunity, he will sneak off during the day to repeat the behaviour, so weekends are always an adventure.

So when I tweet:

@scottcarefoot I would like a candy apple red front loading @GE_Applicances washer/dryer set for Valentine's day. HOT!

I am not kidding.  Unfortunately, this is not in the budget so no washer/dryer set for me (big sigh).  I should count my blessings for the 11 year old-on its last legs-apartment size top/bottom unit we have.  A lot of folks would have to go to the laundromat on a daily basis if they were dealing with this!  Excuse me while I go and put another load in. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

1,200 new planets (whoa).

On the days where everything seems like it is too much to handle, when I find myself firmly locked into gazing at my own navel, I remind myself of one thing.  In the grand scheme, whatever is eating me up at the moment really isn't a big deal.  Whether I liken myself to a single grain of sand on a beach or a solitary soul in the almost 7 million wandering around the planet earth, that typically helps me put things into perspective.

Turns out the big picture just got much, much bigger.  Maybe all those sci-fi geeks have it right.  More than 1200 planets have been found orbiting around distant stars, boosting the chances of finding alien life.  Alien life, whatever that means?  Maybe we're the aliens. Whoa.  Did I mention I have the flu?  I think that cough syrup with codeine is kicking in.

What is up with Rihanna's hair? Is Beyonce bitter that Jennifer Hudson has an Oscar? I like that Fireworks song by Katy Perry.  I could go for some chicken wings right about now.

Friday, February 11, 2011

down for the count.

The Carefoot Crew has been hit. We're closing up shop for the weekend and hope to be ready to weigh in to defend our title by Monday.  Send Tylenol, Kleenex, OJ and tea.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

dumb jocks.

Athletic is not a word I have ever used to describe myself.  Growing up, I always looked at kids who excelled in track and field and gym class as dumb jocks.  I figured since I was smart and not athletically gifted I somehow had one up on them.  Sure that kid could do standing long jump like no other, but she was failing math.  And that kid who always won the 100 metre and high jump? He could not write a book report to save his life.  Because I couldn't compete in their realm I took solace in the fact that I had them beat in the brains department.

I have spent my entire life trying to figure things out by thinking them through.  Makes sense right?  My mantra used to be "I'm smart enough to figure this out".  But maybe I've been over thinking this thinking business.  Reasoning, logic, knowing how things "should be" hasn't gotten me anywhere.  I have talked about my depression, read a stack of books about philosophy, relationships, how to build a better mousetrap and what the Dalai Lama would do.  None of those things have in fact helped me manage my depression.  Not one damn bit.  I dare say that knowing all of the theories and logical things I should be doing only makes it worse.  I end up beating myself up because "damn it I know better!"

The two things that have helped manage my depression are medication and daily exercise.  Medication gets me to a point where I can function.  Exercise gets me to the point of feeling fantastic.  When I am upset or feeling down, no amount of thinking is going to make me feel better.  I have found that intense exercise is the one activity that helps me work through whatever is bothering me and come out the other side feeling like I can deal with it and that everything will be alright.  When I am exercising the negative self-talk disappears.  When I am sweating my ass off I am not thinking about feeling sad or overwhelmed, I am thinking about pushing myself to get through the exercise without falling over.  I am not judging myself for not being as strong or fast as others, I am giving myself a mental pat on the back and saying "hell yeah, you did it!"  Funny that at the age of 35 I am just now figuring out what the dumb jocks knew back in grade six.  Maybe they weren't so dumb after all.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

psychics are way more fun than therapy.

First off, let me state that I believe in psychics. I do. If you think they are complete hogwash, then bully for you, keep it to yourself.  I have had several psychic readings done in the past five years and I have been blown away each and every time by the insight into my life that the psychics had without me saying a word to tip them off.  So, when my friend Cecily (and I consider her a friend because there are very few people I would carry a Red Bull across the Canadian border for besides her) offered me a psychic reading I was all "hell yes bring it!". 

It was a phone reading, which I have never done before.  There were a bunch of psychics to choose from, and I chose "Maxine" because she sounded like someone I would split a bottle of wine with, and also she was the first one who was available.  What I love about talking to a psychic is that you get to ask them questions about the future and you get to sit back and do what you want with the information, take it or leave it.  You can do this at therapy but there is actual work involved in that (probing questions from your therapist, unpacking of emotional baggage that you have left sitting on the conveyor belt of life circling around and around, letting it pass you by again and again).  Psychics aren't going to push you to ask the tough questions either, which keeps it on the fun meter.

In my psychic reading I asked Maxine about Max, my career, family and a bunch of other stuff that is none of your business.  She told me that Max will continue to change in small degrees and that he is currently going through a big healing transformation internally.  She told me not to worry so much about him and that he has a peaceful, meditative state inside him and he is happy.  Amazingly enough, she also told me that I will help other families dealing with what I am dealing with and help raise awareness.  She saw a bunch of positive things happening for me career wise in the next two months that would be "most profitable" and told me that I have a lot on my plate and "good utensils to eat with" (which is such a terrific analogy I think I'm going to steal it). 

Now I have my psychic fix for the year and I'm going to cross my fingers that she is right about all the good stuff heading my way.  Also, I think she just saved me a bunch of money on therapy bills.  Have you ever gone to a psychic?  Do tell!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

autism in the emergency room.

Monday morning: 10am. My cell phone rings.  Call display = Max's school = oh f*ck. It's the principal, who reports that Max has fallen and has hurt his arm.  I need to come pick him up and take him to the hospital.  Not exactly a good start to the week.  When I arrived at the school, I found Max in the arms of his EA, his left arm hanging limp.  Just the action of having him stand up made him moan in agony.  Apparently he had thrown himself on the floor during an episode of non-compliance (a fairly typical behaviour for him).  Max's teacher and principal helped me out to the car with Max.   He turned white as a sheet as I strapped him into the car and my heart broke a bit.
I had booked an appointment with our family doctor, but it was clear that Max would need an x-ray, so off to the Oakville Trafalgar Memorial ER we went.  Our most recent health care experience at our local drop-in clinic had me dreading the inevitable looks of judgement we would receive from people in the waiting room as well as the impatience and general ignorance of the nurses and doctors who would be treating Max.  As common as Autism is, and the higher rate of injury these kids experience in comparison to their neurotypical peers, you'd think medical staff would know how to deal with children on the spectrum, at least a little.  The ER was packed and as I waited to check Max in, he looked around in bewilderment and clung to my leg with his good arm.  I explained to the triage nurse that Max had hurt his arm, and that he is Autistic.  She asked me to come around to the other side so she could do an assessment.  When we sat down, she crouched down to Max's level and introduced herself to him as "Darcy" and very gently asked him where it hurt.  He whimpered "elbow" as she felt his fingers, hand, and wrist.  He winced in pain and she looked very concerned.  She said "I hate to see him in so much pain!".  Amazing.  I was blown away by her compassion and humanity.  I was relieved that she saw Max as just a little guy in tremendous pain and didn't think that because he had Autism he had two heads.  We went and sat in the waiting area and within 5 minutes Max's name was called.   
While we waited for the doctor, the nurses made sure Max was as comfortable as possible.  It took about an hour for a doctor to come and assess Max, but it was much nicer to be waiting where Max could be comfortable instead of the crowded waiting room.  When the doctor arrived I gave him the run down of what happened and told him that it would be hard for Max to tell him exactly what hurt because he is Autistic.  Again, the doctor (Dr. Knott) was very kind.  He told me he thought Max had dislocated his elbow, but because of the communication issue, wanted to do an x-ray to make sure that was what we were dealing with. 
The x-ray technician, Tey, was gentle with Max and had me stay with him while she got x-rays of all the angles she needed. At some point in the process, she actually popped Max's elbow back into place (a very common occurrence with elbow dislocations). The doctor confirmed that Max's elbow had in fact been dislocated and told us he should be fine now. Given that Max was trying to use the gurney as a jungle gym, I agreed with his diagnosis.

I cannot say enough how impressed I am with the nurses and doctors at the Oakville Trafalgar ER. They treated Max with compassion and humanity and made what could have been a terrible experience into a manageable one. He was treated kindly and respectfully at all times and the fact that he has Autism was never an issue. I appreciated that accommodations were made for him, without me even having to ask. As often as I write about the Canadian health care system failing Max, I think it is important to recognize instances where individuals knock it out of the park and go above and beyond. Oakville Trafalgar Memorial ER for the win.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

top 10 valentine's gifts for her.

Okay fellas, you have just over a week left to get your ass in gear for Valentine's Day.  If you are like any of the men I know, you have know clue what to get your lady.  I'm going to help you out with my top ten favourite things (excluding flowers).  I'm not even being paid to write this.  Consider it a "how to make sure you get some action" public service announcement (cue Barry White).

In no particular order:

Flowerbomb by Viktor & Rolf - recommended by my girl Lulu

There is a very nice flowery description about this perfume on the Sephora site that you can take a boo at.   The real deal here is that you will look trรจs sophisticated and in the know if you get this perfume for your lady.  I would also like this, and even though I'm not your lady, feel free to also send me some.  Unless that would get you in a lot of trouble.  I'm not about breaking up relationships.

Pink Starburst Market Tote by Gussy Sews

I met Gussy last week at the Blissdom conference in Nashville.  She is a wonderfully talented designer who creates everything from wallets to laptop bags (all made in America).  I have actually ordered this particular bag for myself (a Valentine's gift for me from me!).  If you haven't noticed already, I am a big fan of pink.  Not to worry, Gussy offers her products in all sorts of colours, so she will definitely have something your lady will like in her favourite colour.

Lovebirds t-shirt by Threadless

Maybe your lady is nontraditional (I totally get that).  If you don't know about Threadless, you need to go check them out.  This t-shirt is funky and unique and also draws attention to the bust (a good thing in my books).

pearl bracelet with a charm from the vintage pearl

I would jump and down and kiss anyone who got this for me.  Really, give it a try, you will get a big smooch from yours truly.  I have a necklace from the vintage pearl that I wear on a daily basis.  What I love about their jewelry is it is reasonably priced, very hip, and you personalize it which will make you look really thoughtful (you don't have to tell your lady that you got the idea from me).

Globe Salt Lamp from Hima Salt

This suggestion is a bit out there, but maybe your lady is too, so this will be just the thing for her.  I have given several salt lamps as gifts and they were all very well received.  They are said to be good for natural healing and light therapy.  I have one in my bedroom next to my Buddha and I find it very relaxing.  They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  I got mine at my local health food store.  Note, they are very heavy, so if your lady tends to be one who throws things when she gets upset, this may not be a great idea for you.

The Beauty of Different by Karen Walrond

This is also a nontraditional gift idea, but if your lady is a book lover, this may be just the ticket.  It is a book about beauty in all dimensions.  I dare you to not feel warm and fuzzy after reading this book.  The writing is inspiring and the photographs are breathtaking and it is all about embracing yourself and those around you and loving the things that makes us all different.  I read a few pages every day and it lifts my spirits every time.

open circle necklace by lisa leonard designs

Can you tell I love me some jewellery? I have several Lisa Leonard pieces that I absolutely cherish.  I don't have this one (yet), but honestly, I would have a hard time choosing just one piece from her collection (check out her site and you will see what I mean).  You can personalize most pieces (more thoughtful points!!) and if your lady doesn't love this, then maybe you should find another lady (I'm just sayin' is all).

Oyster Bay Sauvingon Blanc

I adore this wine.  If your lady is a white wine drinker, it is a safe bet she will enjoy this.  It's not super cheap, but not so expensive that you feel like every sip should taste like liquid gold (whatever liquid  gold tastes like).  I also recommend ordering in Thai food to have with this.  Especially if your lady likes Thai food!  And get a movie while you are at it! And candles! Yes, candles for sure!!

Aveda spa day

I am a sucker for Aveda products.  I am also a big fan of going to the spa (for the entire day if you're offering thanks).  An Aveda spa day would blow my mind.  It will blow your lady's mind.  It may be pricey but I'm willing to bet you will feel like it was worth every penny for the good will you get back.  She'll be happy and pampered and relaxed and feel like a million bucks.  A happy lady is a good thing.

Year of Godiva Dark Chocolate

Of course, it's Valentine's Day, so there must be chocolate (and dark chocolate is really good for you, so you are also being health conscious).  But don't half ass it with a heart shaped box of drugstore chocolate - do it up right.  I'm talking Godiva, and I'm talking the gift that keeps on giving.  Imagine this - every month your lady gets chocolate and you get to reap the benefits of her post chocolate bliss - and all you had to do was make one simple investment.  Sounds ideal.  Sounds like something you should do.  And if my husband is reading this, I would love something (exactly) like this.

Did I miss anything? Ladies, do you have any other suggestions?  Do tell!

Friday, February 04, 2011

getting off the scale (is oh so hard to do).

this is not me.
One of my biggest roadblocks is getting over how much I weigh.  I have a very specific target number in my head that I can't seem to let go of.  It is ridiculous to be fixated on the number I see when I step on the scale.  I know the facts, that muscle weighs more than fat (Gabrielle Reece weighs 190 pounds), and that I should be assessing my progress based on my measurements and how my clothes fit and most importantly, how I feel.  

I feel really good - which is the whole point.  I am finishing up week 6 of P90X (almost half way!) and I am already noticing marked changes in my body.  My legs are looking leaner, there is definition in my shoulders I have never seen before, and for the first time in a long time, my back doesn't hurt.  Mind you, on most days I am sore from working out, but it is a good sore (one that tells me I'm pushing myself hard enough).

The "before" pictures I took (which I will share when I have "after" pictures to post alongside them) are a huge motivator for me.  That and how good I feel when I am done whatever program I have that day.  The great thing about P90X is that if you have a routine that you aren't particularly fond of, the most you have to do it is once a week.  I'm finding that routines I didn't like in the beginning are now among my favourites (I'm looking at you Kenpo X).   The chin ups will likely never be on my "fun" list, nor will the one arm push ups, but you never know, right?  I bet there are guys out there who despised the 90 minute Yoga X when they started who now swear by it. 

I have seven more weeks to go and I am already looking forward to doing the entire program again (which is crazy, I know).  There is something about this Tony Horton guy that makes you want to come back for more.  I think I have finally found something that works for me.  Now, if I can just keep myself off the damn scale...

Thursday, February 03, 2011

twitter 101.

Because I am a social media geek, I take things like twitter for granted. Scott just told me I need to help one of our fairly web savvy friends with how to use twitter.  I plan on giving her a twitter rundown, but in the meantime, here are the top 11 things you should know about twitter.

Twitter 101:

1. If you don't have a twitter account, go to and sign up. Your user name will also be known as your twitter "handle".

2. Each 140 character statement you make is called a "tweet". Past tense tweets are "twats". Actually, that is a lie.

3. A good place to start is to follow people you know on twitter. Example - I'm @ficklefeline, so feel free to follow me.

4. A lot of people will follow you just because you follow them. You don't have to follow everyone who follows you (I don't). Don't be offended if someone doesn't follow you just because you follow them - it's no biggy, you aren't in high school anymore (unless of course you are and in that case, it sucks to be you).  That's what separates twitter from facebook - and thank dog for that.

5. Don't use the twitter app in facebook to auto update your facebook status with every new tweet. It's really annoying and you will piss your facebook friends off.

6. The world doesn't need to know that the apple you ate was really tart. The world does need to know that the bacon you ate was the best thing you've ingested this year. I kid. Tweet about whatever you want, but don't be surprised if you lose followers for tweeting about running out of toilet paper.

7. If you want to tweet at someone, include their twitter handle, starting with "@" in your tweet - example - @ficklefeline you look super hot - clearly @P90X is working for you!!

8. When you see words that begin with "#" at the end of a tweet, these are things that people might search by - example - #ficklefelineisasexybitch - or, you know, #superbowl #chilirecipe

9. If you like something that someone else has tweeted, you can retweet it. Don't retweet everything, just the awesome stuff that you think people that follow you might find interesting.

10. Make sure you keep your profile up to date and use some sort of avatar (not the default egg). You can also do things like backgrounds and other fancy stuff on your profile, but your priority should be to make sure you look hot.

11. You can use twitter to follow people you find interesting, even if you don't feel like tweeting much yourself.  It is a great source for news, entertainment, sports updates and funny shit.  I follow Chelsea Handler, Bill Simmons, Tony Horton and Rachel Maddow.  Note - if you are following someone who is big time and you want to be sure they are the real deal, make sure they are "verified" - that means they are legit.

There are more things you should probably know about twitter, but figure out these ones first and then I'll hit you with more.

cabin fever.

We survived the snow day. Thank dog the schools are open today.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

authenticity activism.

The thing about putting yourself out there, being truly vulnerable, is that it's scary and wonderful and challenging and oh-my-god-I-think-I-can't-do-this-what-will-people-think?

Not everyone wants you to go for it.  Not everyone wants to see you soar.  You can't let that stop you.

So I remind myself that I am enough.  I am worthy.  I am a good person.  I am most certainly imperfect.

I choose compassion when the going gets tough.  I choose to be kind when words are used as weapons.  I choose to live and love with my whole heart.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

the problem with mental health is that you can't see when it's broken.

I write a lot about how I’ve been feeling better lately. The depression that was pulling me down is now, for the most part, at bay. There are still days when it bites at my heels, reminding me not to get too big for my britches. Even with medication, eating right and a tonne of exercise, it is always there waiting for me to become complacent, to slip. Some days despite best efforts I feel myself sinking into the pit of despair. On those days, today being one of them, I remind myself:

Today is just one day.
Do your best.
Give thanks.
You are enough.
Be kind.
Open your heart.
It is okay to feel sad, but don’t let it overtake you.
There is joy to be found – you just need to look.

The very fact that my inner voice is speaking kindly to me is tremendous progress.  Only a few months ago it was saying things like "you aren't worthy" and "who do you think you are anyway?".  But still, depression is a cruel mistress.  The thing that creeps up the most is apathy. I see the message light on my phone blinking and I can’t be bothered to check and see who called. There is a sharp keening in my heart and I am unable to figure out exactly what I am missing. I long to get back into bed and hide underneath the covers and sleep the day away. Lucky for me this is most certainly not an option.

The challenge of course, is that mental health issues are invisible on the surface.  Today I look just like I look on every other day.  I will crack the same sarcastic jokes and do my best to keep it all together as I wrap my mental arms around the sadness and attempt to contain it.  After all, today is just one day...