travel

I’m Not Gonna Cry, I’m Not…

We are leaving tomorrow. And I am running around like a crazy person trying to figure out what will expire in our fridge and our pantry while we are gone, because tomorrow is also garbage day; two birds, one stone.

It is my choice to go to Ontario for close to 5 months. It really was my choice, even though I keep walking into Grunt’s room and sighing, knowing that tonight is the last night I will be rocking him in my wooden chair, the same wooden chair my mother rocked me to sleep in, for a long while. MiniSir will be gone for close to 3 months on exercises, and then handing over and starting his new position back at the Regiment, and THEN the Regimental obligations with the Calgary Stampede and Spruce Meadows… We would never see him. It was the right choice, both financially and emotionally, to take Grunt to Ontario for an extended visit with family while he does all of this.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t miss my house, my friends, my familiar shops and even my (sometimes infuriating) neighbours. This morning my cat was sleeping so still and soundly in the sun I thought for sure he had died – he was fine, just in a heavy sleep, but I’m becoming paranoid that something will happen while we are away.

I also constantly feel like I’m going to forget something. Never mind the fact that we are driving across Canada, stopping in all major cities each night and will be near any store I can think of if I do, but still… I just know I’m going to forget something.

And the unspoken feelings between MiniSir and I: this is the longest we will have ever been apart, even including when we were long distance dating between Kingston and Medicine Hat. I’m a lucky military spouse in that sense – his deployment overseas was before my time with him – but any length of time that you are a separated family is difficult; both while you’re apart and when you finally come back together. Whether it is for a week or 5 months or a year, everyone’s routines collide in an epic “can’t you read my mind?!” blow-out.

So when I went grocery shopping yesterday for last-minute items, I may have purchased a lot of comfort food. I made 13 eggs worth of scrambled eggs to freeze yesterday so the eggs didn’t go bad before someone ate them. I have thrown out anything in the pantry that will expire between now and the end of July. And our freezer is jammed full of random leftovers that can be eaten as a single meal sometime down the road. This is how I am coping.

So. If you’re going to be in the Ottawa/Kingston/Toronto corridor over the next little while, let me know. I’m going to have my own vehicle and itching for distractions. Otherwise, I’ll see you all on the other side of the long, long drive.

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2016: A Year of Reaping

 

Happy 2016, everyone! I just know in my heart that this is the Year of Krista, and I am looking forward to making the most of it.

We could call last year “The Road to High Readiness”, in true army fashion. It saw a lot of ups and downs, for me and our little family.

We all started the year off with terrible colds, and I managed to get lice, an eye infection, and a lung infection on top of that over the holidays. Grunt decided he would start furniture walking as soon as I got sick, too, and became much more mobile while I attempted to get better. The constant barrage of demands from the condo board and MiniSir’s trip to Europe in March nearly did me in as I tried to be a mum, a home owner, and run the condo board all by myself.

But… we celebrated Easter in Walt Disney World and had a wonderful underwater-themed first birthday party for Grunt when we arrived back home.

We put the house on the market right as the price of oil collapsed, and nearly sold it twice only to have the buyer unable to get financing. I hired a management company for our condos, and struggled through our piece-meal finances with their accountant to get our books in order.

But… MiniSir got promoted, and we celebrated with the champagne he brought back from France. We had family visiting us in June, July, and August, and in between we had a whirlwind trip to Ontario.

MiniSir went to fight fires in Saskatchewan, but then we visited Banff and Lake Louise for the first time on an epic road trip, and it seemed like maybe we were finally getting ready to relax into fall.

And then my PTSD, depression, and anxiety all made a comeback and I’m back on medication to help me cope.

But… MiniSir completed an amazing “rugged” marathon called Mountain Man, a result of his hard work, training, and the loss of 50 pounds. He also got great career news and now we know we will be here in Edmonton for at least another 4 years.Grunt started walking and talking. The condo board took on new members and it now feels like we are a team instead of a one-woman show. I have lost nearly 40 pounds, with just a couple stubborn ones left to reach my goal weight. And we celebrated Christmas here, together: our little family with matching pjs in our little house.

Honestly, looking back, I can see the ups and see the downs, see the curveballs life has thrown at us and see the gifts. I wish for nothing more in the new year than for 2016 to hold more gifts than disappointments. I sowed many seeds last year, and I’m ready to reap the rewards. If I close my eyes and dream, I can see them all lying out on the path ahead of me. I know this year will be mine, and I’m ready for it.

From our home to yours: Happy New Year, and may your unexpected gifts be numerous!

It’s Times Like These

It’s at times like this one – holding my screaming son while he wails like a banshee because of some unknown cause – that even a hoodie doesn’t help. That moment when you’ve just stepped in the shower and went “ahhhh” underneath the hot spray, and the baby monitor goes insane. It doesn’t help them either. 

It doesn’t help when you’re up to your ears in work for a position you volunteered for, and the work you’ve delegated somehow manages to become yours again. Or the passive aggressive daily emails from people all implying you don’t do anything, even though you run yourself ragged at the edges whenever the baby is sleeping and sometimes even when he’s not. 

It doesn’t help with any of that. 

What it does do is remind me that he’ll be home soon. That this is all impermanent, and soon he’ll be able to give me the hug I desperately need. That he can hold my hand when I need it, or give me a shoulder to lean on if I need one of those too. That he’s been away overseas, but it wasn’t anywhere dangerous, that the biggest concern he has is how much room he has in his suitcase to bring stuff home, and that it wasn’t for long. 

Chronologically, that is. Relatively, it feels like it’s been a year. 

Our son has cut his first two teeth, had his first bout of stomach flu, and had his immunizations while MiniSir’s been gone. I admittedly have pushed myself too hard, staying up until midnight most nights to get things done. I just want to crawl in his hoodie and be left alone for a while so I can sleep for three days. 

But it can’t help me with that either. 

(Are you reading this and wondering, what’s up with this hoodie thing? Check out my past post on MiniSir’s Magic hoodie.)

Two Kinds of Mommy

It’s Monday, and MiniSir is back at work after a 3-week vacation. There are no video games being played, the baby is demanding to be held, and I’m already missing the extra pair of hands. Grunt is fussy because he’s going through a pretty significant growth spurt – this is the one where he begins to make cognitive connections. It’s neat to be watch him as he realizes he can make his toys sing by pulling the handle, and hilarious to take part in as he begins to mimic my facial expressions. His smiles now light up the room when he sees someone or something he recognizes. But since all these things are new and scary, he is constantly seeking the comfort of our arms. It’s a wonderful but tiring experience.

Still, I’m glad the growth spurt happened when it did and not the weeks previous to that; we kickstarted our vacation by flying to Ontario for two weeks. Every summer we get MiniSir’s four children for two weeks, and since they live in Ottawa, we fly out to have them there. We are really lucky that both our families are in that area so we are not lacking for places to stay and things to do, but going from a three-person family to a seven-person one is a big difference, one that tends to overwhelm us for the first few days each time we have them.

This was also our first time having them as well as the baby, along with the first time Grunt had seen many of his relatives. We were only there 24 hours before I broke down into tears in Old Navy. Everything was incredibly different, as going from being a mommy of one to a mommy of five can be, and there are always challenges to face whenever we take custody of my stepchildren. They themselves are wonderful, and my relationship deepens with them each time we see them. What causes the issues is the level of care and attention they receive in their own home – ie, next to none – versus the love and affection they get from their father, stepmother, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins when we have them. It always results in teary breakdowns halfway through their visit when they realize that eventually they will have to go back to their own home.

The crying on my part shortly after we arrived simply had to do with the fact that I wasn’t used to bring pulled in so many directions, and that even though MiniSir was on leave, this was not really a vacation for us. Moreover, the children’s mother sent them with lice, winter clothes, and shoes with holes in them. I would swear this was on purpose if not for the simple fact that she just doesn’t pay enough attention to them for it to be. So we pay to fly there, pay to fully clothe them, and pay for a van to drive them around in, and you’re looking at the same cost as a nice vacation for the three of us instead. Sometimes, it just gets to be too much.

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Which leads me to having to be two different kinds of mommy: the mommy that loves them, that shows them time and affection, that nurtures and encourages them. But I’m also the mommy that will always come second no matter what because I came second into their lives. The sad part is that I’m not even upset by this – what upsets me more is when their own father comes second as well, simply because of the restrictions that have been placed on his ability to see them and the insinuation of their stepfather into everything that MiniSir did with them as he attempts to “win them over”.

Just FYI: parenting is not about who wins and who doesn’t. It’s about being a good parent, which is not and should never be, a contest.

What is reassuring is that MiniSir goes out of his way to assure me I’m being the best mommy I can be for them. And now I have Grunt, my very own sweet baby I get to keep with me and mould into a human, which will help me accept that being someone’s second mommy is still a great mommy to be.

Science: Being Awesome to Save Your Life

It’s such a hot button topic these days, but it bears repeating. And then I’ll tell you a little story.

IMG_0778Little Grunt just went to get his first vaccinations. I took him to the one of the Public Health offices, where they are administered free of charge to all children; probably all adults if you need your boosters, too. When I arrived, I had to go through a set of large glass doors, and posted on these doors in bright red was the following:

STOP! If you have a persistent cough, and with it a rash, fever, or runny nose, DO NOT COME IN. Please go to the nearest urgent care facility immediately. THERE HAS BEEN A MEASLES OUTBREAK IN THIS AREA.

Yes, really, and yes, I have been tracking it as it has made the news. Just after Grunt was born, there was a case in the Calgary area which saw all unvaccinated children and those susceptible to infection sent home from a public school, including a couple pregnant teachers. People were enraged that someone who did not believe in vaccinations or had chosen not to get them for a certain reason had suddenly disrupted their child’s learning environment.

Then the cases started to appear in Edmonton. MiniSir was in Wainwright tracking them along with me, making sure I wasn’t taking our newborn out to places where the infected had visited in the last 7 days. What became apparent as more cases were reported was that it was one community in particular that was perpetrating all the nonsense. Unvaccinated children between 3 and 6 years of age that attended the same doctor’s offices, the same church, and the same grocery store were spreading it amongst themselves like one of those ridiculous chicken pox parties that used to occur in the 60s and 70s. One of these children even visited a maternity/newborn ward in a local hospital before being quarantined, primarily because I feel the parents just didn’t understand how seriously ill he was and how deadly his illness could be to those that cannot fight against it.

But the final straw was when an infected 30 year old male took the disease with him to West Edmonton Mall the day before Mother’s Day and spent 4 hours there spreading it around. Of all the socially irresponsible things to do, to me this was on a scale similar to that of a spree killing. I was texting with other new moms in the area every time more locations were announced, each of us making sure the others were aware of the details. We all wanted to be as careful as we could. Our husbands in the field were just as concerned. And then this dumb ass just waltzes through the busiest shopping centre in the city on one of the busiest shopping days of the year and spreads all that germy love around like a gift.

Grunt and I were lucky. All of those reported infected lived in the south end of the city, and so all the reported places of business where there could have been contact were far away from our usual haunts. But I still washed my hands religiously. I told strangers not to get too close to my baby. I purposefully avoided getting out of my car if I could, and when I did I wiped everything down with antibacterial wipes. I kept my son safe from the negligence of others because that’s what socially responsible parents and people do. The outbreak has been declared over in Calgary, but not in Edmonton. Not yet. And so, the signs at the Public Health office are still up, because you can’t be too careful.

Which leads me to my story. Last week there were celebrations at MiniSir’s regiment for the “Change of Command”, when a new commanding officer takes over from the old. There was a parade with lots of tanks driving around and firing blanks, so I took the baby out for some fresh air, sunshine, and pomp and circumstance. Afterward, everyone gathered at the regiment for a light lunch and socializing. While I was standing with Grunt waiting to see MiniSir, another officer asked if he and his family could sit beside me. Of course I said yes. I then made small talk and found an excuse to leave quickly. Why? Because said officer’s toddler was with him, and said officer has made it very clear to others that he doesn’t believe in vaccinations, ANY type of vaccinations, and his children have not had any. He put me in a position where I had to choose between social nicety and protecting my child. There wasn’t really a choice. I may have been rude, but I couldn’t consciously make the decision to stay where I was.

Science. Bill Nye, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Chris Hadfield can’t be wrong about it being awesome. Jenny McCarthy and Alicia Silverstone may be celeb “yummy mummies”, but until they can hold up a shred of evidence to suggest vaccinations aren’t safe, I’ll stick with the professionals on this: vaccines save lives, not Dr. Oz.

Week(s) in Review: Home Sweet Home

Yeah, I know it’s been forever since I posted an “In Review” piece. And to be honest, a LOT has gone on. Let’s recap:

  • – I’m pregnant!
  • – We are having a boy! This photo is how we told everyone; most people got it, but there was some confusion as to whether or not it was twins.
  • – We went to Walt Disney World on our Christmas vacation!
  • – We survived Winter-Ice-Stormaggedeon-Pocalypse 2013 while visiting family in Ontario!

But I think the most recent event merits the winner of today’s subject award: We bought a house!

We knew we would have to move from our apartment to have the baby (it’s an adult only building) and we were looking at continuing to rent. But then MiniSir got word that he’ll be in Edmonton bouncing from position to position for the next 5 years or so, and we figured why rent for so long when we could become responsible homeowners? So we did!

No, it wasn’t as easy as all that, but it did end up very positive for us. We have purchased a new townhouse in the north of the city near the base. It’s got all the bells and whistles, including hardwood flooring and granite countertops. It’s 3 bedrooms and 1.5 bath – the perfect size for us, particularly since I will have to clean it… eventually. The complex itself is only around half finished, so when I say it’s brand new, it’s really super shiny new.

MiniSir and I are very excited. Neither of us have ever owned a home before, and we feel both grown-up and scared stiff at the same time. So many new changes will be coming in the next few months. The good news is that we can be all moved in by the end of February, so there will be some time for us to relax and get settled before the baby arrives to change everything again.

“She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid.”

It has been a super experience with this company. I got to pick out my colour package for what I wanted inside, and tomorrow I get to go choose my blinds which they will install for us before we move in! It’s like playing The Sims, but actually being able to live in it afterward.

My only concern left is: will the duct tape on my couch match the flooring in the living room?

Week in Review: Back to… Darn, I’m Old

Hands up if you feel like you’ve been run over by a truck this morning!

I can’t believe it’s back to school time already. More importantly, I can’t believe that I have a niece starting kindergarten today that looked like this when I moved to Alberta:

Growing up should not be allowed. Look at those cheeks!

My stepchildren are starting grade 7 (GRADE 7!), grade 5, grade 2 and grade 1. I have a brother-in-law that’s starting a year-long college degree today, and I can’t even remember the last time I did anything academic. (Was it 2008? Maybe…) In conclusion, I am feeling my age this morning.

I am also feeling it because we have had such a busy week this past week. On Thursday we went to play trivia as we do every Thursday, and we WON! “The Del(ink)quents” are now in the trivia finals! It was a personal point of pride for us because we are the most heavily tattooed group in the bar (by far), and we managed to beat all of the groups that have been coming to trivia since the dawn of time. What a way to kick off the weekend!

MiniSir had Friday off, so he dropped me at my psychiatry appointment and went to run “some errands” (his exact words). I have begun my EMDR therapy now, and Friday was my first session. Basically what the doctor tells me to do is, after they hook me up to the incredibly non-complex machine, pull up in my mind the most vivid scene from the accident and hold it, experiencing it again. From there, I am just supposed to go where my mind takes me. Needless to say, the therapy is very powerful. You end up re-experiencing all the emotions and physical sensations associated with your memories. I told the doctor that next session I was wearing a bib because the front of my shirt was soaked with tears. He told me to never ever wear mascara to a session. Also sound advice. So in case you were wondering what happened to Flat-Out Friday last week, it did happen, at least for me. I got my chance to release anxieties and hurt over the accident – it was just in a private forum.

Friday afternoon MiniSir and I went to paint matching mugs at a pottery studio just off Whyte Ave as part of the celebration of our first anniversary weekend. We decided to do it this past weekend because he had four days off and we could properly celebrate. Our “Time Lord” and “Companion” mugs should be ready for pick up by the end of this week, and I can’t wait to start using them.

Saturday morning we took off for brunch and then it was off to Calgary for the night! We drove down and stayed in a hotel downtown. Our biggest plans were to visit the giant game store and eat at our favourite two restaurants. With a game store visit under our belt on Saturday afternoon, we headed out for supper. Halfway through supper, we connected with a good friend from Medicine Hat who also happened to be in Calgary that weekend, and so, plans for a quiet evening now only a dream, we met up with her. She brought along her old roomie, who we had known from our time in the Hat as well, and her roomie’s new beau. When he showed up wearing a Star Wars t-shirt, I knew we were in for a long night of nerdy conversation. Because if there’s one thing my love does best, it’s nerd out. We stayed out until 1:30am laughing, chatting, and catching up. The next morning’s checkout time came far too early. We had breakfast at our other favourite restaurant, caught some of the Pride Parade (it was Calgary Pride Weekend), and walked around the Eau Claire Market for a bit before hopping in the car and heading home.

I had a nap when we got home, slept all night, had a four-hour nap yesterday, and then last night’s sleep, and I STILL don’t feel like I’ve caught up. Oh, to be young and spry again, and not so very old and broken. Last night we went for supper at the home of another Strathcona officer and his wife. It was fabulous and we had a great time, and yes, stayed a lot longer than we intended because of that. Why does having a social life have to be so tiring?! A long, long time ago I was celebrating my Frosh Week on this day. I was a lot less tired then, and Frosh Week is hard work. But I guess I’ve got a few years and a second lease on life under my belt, so I should just take what I can get.

Now to drag my tired ass to my other psychiatry appointment today, so I can see my other other psychiatrist. Happy Back to School to all the moms, dads, sisters, brothers, kids, teachers, and folk of the periphery I’ve probably forgotten. You’ll have to forgive me: my memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be. It does that with age.