Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Do you know where you're going to?

So, we were out of town this past weekend visiting family in Calgary. Since both our vehicles need work and are not in safe driving condition ... and it's winter, on the highway, with two small children ... we rented a vehicle for the trip. Best to be safe, we figure.

We don't know our way around Calgary. So we took the GPS. Generally, the GPS works like a dream. But sometimes it's not up to date on closed businesses, new streets, etc. Also, it can give off some fairly interesting directions. Like these:

"Right turn on Memorial Doctor West"
(actual street name is Memorial Dr ... or "Drive")

"Exit right onto Crowchild Triangle"
(actual street name is Crowchild Trl ... or "Trail")

"Slight left turn on 15th Avenue Say"
(actual street name is 15 Ave SE ... or "Southeast")

"When possible, make a legal u-turn"
(up here, u-turns are never legal)

"Make a diagonal left turn on Unnamed"
(what is a "diagonal left turn"?!?!)

"Exit right to 16th Avenue East 1A Highway E 32 Street to H W Y 1E Highway 32 East"
(ummmmmm ...)

It's great when the GPS gives no advance warning, too. And that's when you think it should just say "Turn left ... NOW!" But mostly, it's good. And it certainly helped us to find our way around. Eventually. It also inspired some interesting discussions. And we have found that a fairly inexpensive way to stay entertained is to drive your vehicle into the middle of a large parking lot, ask your GPS for directions, and then drive around in circles completely ignoring its directions and waiting for its microchips to start smoldering as it keeps "calculating route" over and over. Also, you can contemplate what the perfect GPS would actually say to you at any given moment. Like so:

"No. Your other left."
"Stop your vehicle now. You should not be driving."
"Make an illegal three-point turn."
"Our records show this is not a street. You are driving through houses."
"We are contacting the authorities. Stay where you are."
"Return your rental vehicle here, before you kill someone."


We had a lovely visit with my birth mom, though it was too brief. She seems to be doing well, all things considered. I don't think I've blogged much about her illness, if at all, so I'll do so now. If you're here for humour, you should probably just skip over the rest of this post ... it's medical stuff, and cancer is just not funny.

My birth mom has a rare form of pancreatic cancer. She was diagnosed with it this past summer. The tumor was quite large (roughly 6 inches) and had spread to her liver, bloodstream, and lymph system. It's an aggressive and fast growing form of cancer. It is also inoperable. When she began treatments, we were told that the cancer had almost completely replaced her liver and that, without chemo, she would not be expected to survive more than a few days. Fortunately, her type of cancer is generally very responsive to chemo, and liver cells can regenerate if enough of the cancer cells can be killed off.

The tumor has responded well to the first bunch of chemo treatments and has shrunk so that it is no longer causing any pain. And her liver is functioning once more, which is good news. The doctors stopped the chemo when they were required to, when her white cell count was at a certain low level. She will go for a CT scan in the new year to see if the tumor is growing again and, if so, she will need to start another round of chemo treatments.

In the meantime, she's fighting the cancer any way she can, and is trying an experimental therapy with a drug called "DCA". It's not presently being tested as a treatment for pancreatic cancer, but we are all hopeful that it will help her. Next time we go down, we'll try to stay a bit longer and have a better visit. We hesitate to tire her, though, so have to curb our enthusiasm a bit. The kids in particular can tire a person out pretty fast.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Everybody sing!

In the year of 2008, the evils gave to me:

Twelve investments falling
Eleven solicitors hounding
Ten kidney stones passing
Nine insurance arguments
Eight years of sick cat dying
Seven months of bed rest
Six torched houses
Five broken bones
Four engine issues
Three ailing parents
Two shattered windshields
And an elk slamming into my van.

It's almost over ... 2008 is almost over ... just three more days ...

Happy freakin' new year, everybody!

Edited to add:
This post is mostly tongue-in-cheek. There have been good things that have happened in 2008. I recognize this. I don't want to appear ungrateful. I know that this past year has brought its fair share of blessings to counteract all the bad. And much of the bad stuff has just been inconvenient. And many people have been hit harder than have I. But I'm irritated right now, because both of our vehicles have broken down yet again, with a vengeance, and it's getting a bit ridiculous. This too shall pass.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Santa Baby

Wishing you all the best for a happy holiday season!

(This photo of N was taken by Draya's Mom over at Draya's Diary. She takes mighty good pictures, huh?)

Friday, December 19, 2008

They wouldn't let poor Rudolph join in any tax planning activities

Okay, first of all: Is it just me, or does "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" sound an awful lot like the title of a Beatrix Potter book? Seriously. I keep expecting to see Brad Pitt in a bunny costume, possibly sporting a little blue jacket, hopping through a dangerous garden in search of lettuces.

Apparently, I only read children's books and accounting texts these days.


And on an unrelated note, someone recently landed on my blog by googling "reindeer financial riddles". Did anyone know there was a calling for those? Out of curiosity, are reindeer supposed to know something about finance? Or would this be more about paying for stuff with reindeer instead of cash?

Your thoughts please. And if you know any reindeer financial riddles, do share!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Baby got teeth

So, N cut his very first tooth today. Just a tiny little speck peeking out from his bottom gums, but sharp as all get out. No wonder he was acting so grumpy. His cheeks are all red, and he's been lapping up the Tylenol. Quite inconsollable. Sure must hurt him. Hurts me too. Every time he bites.


I'm still pretty sick. The cough has turned bad. I'll omit details, because it's gross and nobody really wants to read the finer points about what you coughed up today. But it's been rough, and I'm really tired, and then I started fearing really bad stuff, because that's what you do when you're displaying truly awful symptomology for more than a few days. So I headed to a walk-in clinic this evening to get things checked out. Two hours later, we knew with certainty that it's nothing especially horrible. But it's not just the common cold either. I've got bronchitis. So I have an antibiotic, and some Codeine cough syrup, and I'll hopefully be feeling better in a few days. Chest x-ray scheduled for the new year, just to make sure things are okay because ... well ... gross details omitted again. But I'm sure the x-ray will be all clear, and everything will be just fine.

("Am I contagious?", I asked. "No. You're infectious", came the doctor's reply. I just love semantics, don't you?)

I got home from the doctor after picking up my antibiotic. I told H I have bronchitis. That's why I've been so sick. That's why my energy has been shot. I want to take my drugs and pass out now, so I can get better. H responded to my glassy-eyed stare by telling me that he's just exhausted tonight, and then asking me to please put both kids to bed and help him carry J's big Christmas present down to the basement before taking the smaller one down by myself, and also, could I please wash the dishes and cook up those pork chops tomorrow. Then he proceeded to lay down on the couch and watch an episode of Law & Order before having a leisurely bath and going to bed before me.

I didn't even kill him a little bit. Too tired. Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, December 15, 2008

She was a wonky, one-armed evil Walmart mitten eater

I'm addicted to Jen's blog over at Steenky Bee. She's taking a bloggy break, and I just don't know how to stay amused without her cool brand of funny! But fortunately, she is guest posting today over at Kaply, Inc., so I was able to get a bit of a fix. She shared a somewhat unique version of the old tale, Gift of the Magi. I don't remember it quite the way she related it, though there are certainly similarities.

You remember the story, don't you? There was this couple who had no cash for Christmas presents, so the guy sold his hand to buy his wife combs for her hair, while she sold her head to buy him a watch that would no longer stay on his bloody stump. And that was of course the end of the story, 'cause you can't live without a head. Or so I've been told. Though many of the people I encountered at Walmart last night have made me question that particular theory. Especially that one fool who actually stole one of my mittens out of the bathroom, and I have no idea what she plans to do with her ill-gotten booty that I would consider to be quite frankly useless unless she happens to have a spare right-handed black mitten at home that matches my left one perfectly. Or maybe she lost her right arm in some tragic shopping accident and just can't bring herself to purchase two mittens 'cause of the exorbitant financial waste and stuff, so she lurks in the Walmart bathroom hunting for lefty mittens. Seriously, WTF, Crazy-Walmart-Chick?!?!

(Yes, of course I checked at the lost-and-found. What do you take me for?)

Anyway, it's true. I was at "Walmart" last night. Judge me all you like. I don't care. They had the perfect gift for my son, at the perfect price, in the perfect badly damaged box that made the price even lower when I couldn't really care less about the condition of the box anyway, since it just goes to recycling and the box's contents are in perfect shape. So, lost mitten or not, I'm good with my find. Also, oddly enough, Walmart actually sells mittens too, so I left with three whereas I'd arrived with only two. What a bargain!

(In hindsight, I bet the Walmart store manager stole my mitten so I'd have to buy more stuff while I was there. Evil Bitch.)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Parents just don't understand

J talks a lot. And his speech is fairly advanced for a 3-year old.

J: Oh, thank you. Thank you so much. I really appreciate that.

His advanced speech was noted by impartial third parties at his most recent nutritionist appointment. This week, we switched over from the nutritionists we'd previously seen and started going to a clinic with occupational therapists who have trained with Dr. Kay Toomey on the steps to eating hierarchy. The new clinic has a different feel, and I believe it will be more helpful. They have already given us a number of tips to help J through his eating problems, and to help us with the stresses that come along the way.

J: The TV is disturbing me from drinking my milk and eating my banana.

We always knew to keep distractions to a minimum. No toys at the table. No eating in front of the television. But we didn't know that playing with food could be a really good thing ... using food in different ways ... familiarizing him with textures. Gradually, we move toward eating. Slowly, the food moves closer to his mouth. In time, he will get there.

For us, the key is to stay neutral. No begging. No stressing. No anger. No comments on the food that could be seen as positive or negative. So instead of "This is yummy", we say other things; "This is crunchy", for example, or "This is yellow". Or ...

T: Who’s on this cup?
J: Mickey Mouse!
T: Right! That’s Mickey Mouse! And where does he live?
J: I … um … I don’t know.
T: Disneyland.
J: Oh! Disneyland!
T: Right!
J: But why does he have a wand?
T: Because he’s Wizard Mickey.
J: Oh! He’s Wizard Mickey?
T: Yes. That’s one of his characters.
J: Oh, okay. But why is he a Lizard?
T: He’s not a Lizard. He’s a Wizard.
J: Oh!

Already a master manipulater, J really knows how to get us riled up in a big hurry. It takes some effort to maintain composure when he acts out. But we're getting better at it, with practice. For now, we work on our understanding. J is very advanced in a lot of ways and, in others, he struggles. He has a different learning style from the norm. He is extremely active. He can be very sarcastic, or very literal, depending on the moment. He tests his boundaries in unique fashion, seeming to enjoy it when we get riled up. He pushes hard, trying to see if he can get us to change our minds and give in to his wishes. Life is a power struggle.

J: I need to pee pee.
T: Okay.
J: Upstairs.
T: Okay.
J: I want you to come with me!
T: No.
J: Please? I want you to come upstairs with me!
T: No. I'm not going upstairs.
J: Please?
T: No. You can use this potty.
J: I like upstairs bathroom!
T: Why?
J: Because. I think it's more yummier than the one down here.
T: You can go upstairs by yourself.
J: No, I want you to come with me, because I love you!
T: There's nothing wrong with this bathroom.
J: No, come upstairs so I can pee!
T: Pee down here if you want me to come with you.

J is a pretty unique kid, who doesn't follow the patterns we've come to expect in most other children that we know. He requires a different parenting style, and we are learning what must be done and adapting to his needs. Proper communication is key.

J: Is it toast?
T: Yup. Eat it, please.
J: What?
T: Your cinnamon toast.
J: No, I’m not!

Yeah. Proper communication. Key. Yeah ...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

You've got a friend in me

J and N had a doctor's appointment this week. Waiting in the doctor's office, J suddenly hugged N and said:

J: You're the best baby in the whole wide world. You're my best friend, and I'll never let anything happen to you.

I hope my boys are always this close. Aren't they cute?

Sorry for the brevity, and for my recent absence around my favourite blogs. Still sick. Back soon.

Monday, December 08, 2008


I am going to post about sickness today. Because really, it's all I've got. There is sickness ... what can I say.

It started when N got what we thought was just a bad case of the sniffles about a week before my exam. He was pretty miserable.

Ever the pessimist, I saw the writing on the wall right then. I figured the very generous N would pass his cold along to the rest of us. H would get it first. He would be laid up all weekend, and unable to care for the kidlets while I studied. J would catch it next. He would be horribly sick and unable to go to school, so I would not be able to study for the days leading up to the exam. Finally, I would catch the dread virus just in time to be thoroughly ill on exam night. But as H readily pointed out: "If you can pass an exam with contractions, you can certainly pass one with a cold." Good point. Still, I preferred not to have to write while ill.

So I prayed. Please, just don't let me get sick until after the exam. Please, oh please, don't let me get sick until after the exam.

As predicted, H caught the cold the weekend before the exam. He was laid up all weekend. But kind and generous family members stepped in and cared for the children so that I could still study. J was hit next, a little later than I had originally predicted. He was home from school Wednesday, the day of the exam. H took a family sick day to care for J so that I could still study. (J's condition worsened on exam night, and he started throwing up. We decided to keep him home for the rest of the week. When we called the school, we learned that Norwalk Virus is circulating. Faaaabulous!)

But it's all good. By Friday, my exam was over. H was feeling completely better. N was almost over it too. Even J appeared to be feeling 100% better. And aside from a touch of nausea, I had escaped completely unscathed.

Could it be? Had I finally avoided catching a cold that had hit the remainder of my household with a vengeance? I am an asthmatic, so one would not think so. But maybe, just maybe it had happened. Finally.

Except that the kids really weren't on the mend. Deceptive little beggars that they are, they apparently simply wanted to instill a false sense of security in their poor mother. And so, late one night on the weekend, with J coughing until he threw up and N barking like a seal on each intake of breath, we headed to the Emergency Room. Two small children, with matching fevers and matching cold viruses. N's cold had turned to croup, and he required steroids. J needed to be watched for dehydration; just keep him drinking, and he should be okay.

But at least H is feeling better. And I haven't caught the virus. It's been two weeks, and I am feeling rather indestructible at this juncture. Two sick kids, climbing on me for cuddles, breathing and coughing directly in my face, but somehow I managed to evade their bugs. Celebrate with me!

Yeah ... Until today, when I awoke feeling like I'd been hit by a rather large truck. J still coughing. N sobbing and miserable, with the mother of all runny noses and croupy coughs. And me, the caregiver, totally incapacitated and unable to function, with a severe headache, fever, ear infection, tonsillitis (again), upset stomach, a hacking cough, and complete exhaustion. I can't even take anything for it, because I'm still nursing N!

It's been a good day. (Riiiiight.) I'm going to bed now. I hope to feel better soon. I hope for no bronchitis, the usual development in an asthmatic with a cold. I hope it all departs from my system very quickly.

I am tired. I am sick. But I still feel blessed, because at least the virus failed to catch me until after my exam was done. And really, that was all I asked for.

So, how about you? Any winter colds going around your household? Do you have a tried and true cold remedy (safe for nursing moms)? Do tell!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

We don't need no education ... but I'll give you one anyway

Oh, Canada. You are unique. You are beautiful. Your red and white flag. Your political strife.

Canada is a Parliamentary Democracy. Which begs the question ... what does that mean?

In Canada, we do not vote for President. We don't even have a President. We have a Prime Minister. A Prime Minister, for whom we also do not vote.

We are represented by Members of Parliament. And for those Members, we vote. We are subdivided into various ridings, each represented by one Member of Parliament, our MP, who is affiliated with one national party. The primary parties are the Liberals and the Conservatives, with a strong group of supporters who favour the NDP, a select but discriminating number who support the Greens, and a significant portion of Quebec who feel they are best represented by the Bloc. Five parties. One nation.

Canada is in a state of political unrest. In the last election, a scant 38% of seats, significantly less than half, went to Conservative MPs. The remaining 62% of seats were split between the four remaining parties, with the vast majority of these belonging to the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc, in that order. But as no one party obtained more than 38%, a minority government was formed with the Conservative leader as Prime Minister.

A minority government cannot govern without cooperation from at least one other national party, for 38% does not a majority make. The rule of a minority government is cooperation between the parties. In other words, play nice; you do not run the show.

At present, Canada's illustrious Conservative leader is one Stephen Harper, a man with his own ideas and agendas who does not want to cooperate with the other parties, will not play nice, and apparently believes that Canada should be a benevolent dictatorship. His thoughts include ignoring the recommendations the IMF has made to all governments for coping with the recession, stripping unionized civil servants of their right to strike for a minimum of three years, quashing legislation entitling women to receive equal pay for equal work, and selling off Canadian assets (during an economic downturn when their worth will not be realized) in order to make it appear that the country's books are in a favourable position when they are not. You know ... kind of like the Enron scandal, but for government.

Obviously, at least 62% of MPs are not in favour of these actions. Accordingly, a non-confidence vote is inevitable and, in anticipation of such, our Grand Poobah of the Conservative arm decided it would be prudent to cripple his opponents by essentially firebombing their taxpayer subsidies. They're sort of miffed about that.

There is a loss of confidence in the current government. Without support from some of the 62% faction, our current government cannot govern. Therefore, the Liberals and NDP, supported by the Bloc, wish to form a Coalition Government with the Liberal leader, one Stephane Dion, stepping in as the head. Stephen Harper has responded to this tactical move with a special delay maneuver. With the dubious approval of our Governor General, he has prorogued Parliament, putting off the non-confidence vote and effectively silencing our elected MPs until late January. What a nice, upstanding guy.

The moves of the respective parties have obviously received considerable media attention. Facebook groups have been created, damning and supporting the Coalition Government by turn. People are spouting off about all manner of things with varied degrees of comprehension. High school students, not legally entitled to vote as they are below the age of majority, are expressing erroneous opinions about how economic upturns and downturns are managed with no governmental influence whatsoever. (FAIL! I personally give you an "F" in your Social Studies class. Deal with that!)

Ultimately, we can conclude that some Canadians are in support of the Coalition Government. Others do not want a Coalition Government, and say that no one voted for a Coalition Government as Prime Minister. But what these people fail to understand is that in a Parliamentary Democracy, we do not vote for Prime Minister at all. By virtue of the fact that a minority government was elected, there is already a Coalition Government of sorts. All parties, required to work together, for the greater good of the country as a whole. Democracy is unaffected by the formation of a Coalition Government. The elected MPs would hold their seats. And as an elected MP, even Stephen Harper would retain his seat in Parliament; he simply would not be Prime Minister any longer. Only the Prime Minister, the head, would be changed. Changed to a different elected MP in whom a majority of the other elected MPs have confidence.

One should also note that between them, the parties involved in the would-be Coalition actually represent more of a majority than does the current Conservative minority government.

And ... I can't emphasize this point strongly enough ... we in Canada do not vote for Prime Minister. We vote for our MPs.

Now. Some Canadians understand this and will vote for the MP of their choosing. Some fail to understand this and mistakenly believe they are voting for Prime Minister, and that's sort of sad. And some people do not care for whom they vote. They are mindlessly devoted to a specific national party, and care not who is at its helm so long as that individual becomes Prime Minister. Whomever he, she, or it may be. These are the people who scare me the most. These are the people who would vote for a Hurdy Gurdy monkey as long as it had a big "C" emblazoned on its chest.

(Come to think of it, a Hurdy Gurdy monkey would probably make a better Prime Minister than Stephen Harper. For a Hurdy Gurdy monkey would stride into Parliament in his little Hurdy Gurdy outfit and be met with acclaim and admiration for his very cuteness. The MPs would probably give him peanuts, pleasantly and politely cooperating with one another as they took their appropriate turns at the peanut vending machine. But there are no peanuts for Stephen Harper, who looks ridiculous in a Hurdy Gurdy outfit. Not to mention the fact that Stephane Dion would steal his hat as soon as he walked into the room and promptly hand it off to NDP leader Jack Layton for a rousing game of "Piggy in the Middle".)

The bottom line is that a Coalition Government is legal, democratic, and perfectly acceptable and appropriate in the situation. The government has considerable control of economic upswings and downswings (no matter what some random high school student who has clearly not studied economics thinks). And all parties need to put aside their petty differences and work together for the greater good of the country as a whole at this difficult time.

Of course, if you are one of those people who don't vote at all, your opinions do not matter one lick, and you are really nothing more than a Hurdy Gurdy monkey. So quit yer whining! Stupid.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Da Victory and Da Feet

My exam is over. (HURRAH! HURRAH!)

I think it went pretty well. I lost several marks for careless errors, but that happens. I feel fairly certain that I passed. Probably with something in the 70's or maybe low 80's. Probably not high enough for scholarship money this year, but as long as I don't have to redo the class or re-write the exam, I'll count myself fortunate. Sad, though ... that scholarship sure would have been nice.

Marks get released January 27. I hate the long wait, but that's how it always is. Now, on to my next course ... Auditing. I hope I enjoy this one a bit more.

Since I have been released from my studying dungeon for the time being, I now have time to post this little anecdote.


I took a brief study break one evening last week, and we went out for dinner as a family. I left the table for a short time to change N's diaper, and H entertained J.

There was a nice man sitting at a nearby table who thought J was pretty cute. Kept calling J "Batman", wanting to play peek-a-boo, that sort of thing. While I was gone, he caught J's eye, and he smiled and waved. And J flipped out. "Daddy, I'm scared", J cried out, before hiding in a teeny huddled mass in H's lap.

Once he felt more secure, he decided to strike up a converation with the nice man, who we will call Bert, for the sake of this entry.

J: My mommy broke her knee.
Bert: Did she?
J: Yes. She stepped on the cat and broke her knee.
Bert: Oh! Well ... Is the cat okay?
H: Yes, the cat is fine.
J: But she had to go down to heaven.

Okay, just to clarify this. The cat went to heaven because she'd had kidney failure for the past eight years and was starting to suffer. Not because I crushed her with my giant lard feet of doom.

Also, I know that heaven is "up". I've explained this on several occasions, but J seems unconvinced.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Things you never thought you'd hear yourself say

T: Don't throw your head at your brother!!!


I've been absent a bit of late. My exam is Wednesday night. Studying frantically until it's done. It's starting to come together. Sort of. Not leaving much time for anything else, though. I don't think I'll be around much until it's over. So ... yeah.

See you all Thursday!