Bubbles

Never underestimate the power of a good bubble bath.

It’s been a rough few months. One thing after another after another. I’ve honestly been surprised that I’ve been in as good spirits as I have been. I credit that to my amazing husband who knows exactly how to make me laugh (or at the very least shake my head.)

After a rough October, November didn’t pan out to be much better. Once we got our vehicles back on the road, my landlady called me upstairs for a chat. She said that her ex hadn’t paid child support in 11 months and that she was looking at going back to trial, so it was going to cost her another $10,000. Because of that, she wanted to raise our rent by over 4% and also wanted us to pay 1/3 of it in cash. Why? Because “her tax guy” told her to so that it would reduce her income and property tax. The woman, in not so few words, asked me to help her commit fraud. No thanks. But she’s telling people that she’s increasing it due to us having “higher utilities than expected,” which is a load of garbage.

I asked for help from someone I trust to figure out what we should do. He immediately starts making calls, finds us a new place to live that’s at least twice as large, tells me how the budget would work, helps us negotiate a lower price, and helps navigate us through breaking our lease. Things got ugly. After we turned our 30 day notice in, the landlady came downstairs screaming and yelling at us. Just what I needed on top of everything else.

It started as the fight, then protests and threats in emails. Then things got petty like scheduling viewings every day of the week. Finally, we got some help from the Office of Rental Tenancies here, and should be in the clear. She’s still being ugly over the move out process, but I know where she can go and can tell her how to get there… In a handbasket.

Everything hurts. We moved a solid 95% of our belongings in about 3 hours. Unfortunately most of our connections were out of town, with the exception of one of my employees that graciously came to help. Everything still hurts.

We moved from a small ~700 sq ft 2 bedroom mother-in-law apartment (or “suites” as they’re called in Canada) to a townhouse. There’s still only 2 actual bedrooms, but they’re larger and it has a full basement as well. We’re converting the basement into a 3rd bedroom and playroom for the kids. Hell, our walk in closet is so big, it could have been used as sleeping quarters for the youngest kiddo. Oh yeah, and it has an extra half bathroom, which is fantastic. We have a teeny tiny little yard, a teeny tiny little white picket fence, and a teeny tiny little porch. They’re all far cries from the stoop and sidewalk we had before. We have parking!

The best part of all? The bathtub. One of the only things I was iffy about when deciding to move was having a nice tub. (Not that I was able to use it frequently at the old place because my landlady griped about the water bill all the time, even though it was only $20-30 higher every month from before we moved in.) But, as a tall girl, once you have a tub that can fit your legs and boobs under the water at the same time ….it’s just hard to give that up. The new place has an equally great tub. A little more narrow, but a little deeper. It’s amazing.

So here I lie, second night in a row, having a nice Epsom salt and vanilla scented bubble bath. Soaking the aches and stresses of the past month away is really nice. Behold the power of bubbles!

Happy Canadaversary

Exactly one year ago, my dog and I came to Canada. Mold in my home displaced me, so I ended up moving to be with my husband before we anticipated. How have I been the past year?

Well let’s see. I married my best friend, became a stepmother, and now have an awesome family. I got my permanent residency. Per my last post, I’ve found that I don’t mean as much to some people as I thought. It’s a lot colder here. I’ve been treated like absolute shit by my stepchildren’s mother. I’ve been treated incredibly by everyone else. I had a horrible job, then got a really great one. I’m a lot less stressed. I’m healthy and happy. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve grown as a person.

Canada looks good on me. I’m thankful that I had the ability to pack it all up to be able to be with my husband so that we could have a new life together. Happy Camadaversary. It’ll be nice growing old here.

Embrace the Curl

Once upon a time in my early 20’s, the majority of my hair fell out. It was devistating. My hair was beautiful, long, and thick. But it didn’t matter because my blood sugar had other plans for me. I no longer had my daddy’s super thick hair.

It took years for it to grow. Years. During those years my hair struggled. I tried to grow it out, but my roots were thicker, making my ends look wispy, unkept, and barren. I went through a series of pixie cuts, bobs, and every other hair hatred in between. I’ve never been much of a girly girl, but my identity and confidence definitely took a hit during the regrowth process.

I got my blood sugar under control and the length came back. My hair was still fairly fine, but I at least had a lot of it again. And then I moved to Canada. My hair was angry for a few months. Oily. Dry. Oily. Dry. Oily. Dry. It would not make up its mind. But here we are about 8 months later and its finally settled on a happy medium. I found a stylist that I liked the sound of and set an appointment for a much needed trim. And. She. Was. Amazing.

I explained to my new stylist the history of my hair and my routine (or lack thereof.) I basically wash my hair a couple of times a week, dry it with the warm and cold settings on my fancy new hair dryer that my husband got me for my birthday, and I call it a day. My hair is usually wavy. Or so I thought. We went to shampoo and condition my hair. After towel drying, my new stylist got really excited. “My god, you have ringlets! I’m so jealous!” In my naive mind, I thought everyone had curly hair when it was wet. She was delighted to find that my fancy new hair dryer is equipped with a diffuser and asked if she could show me how to use it and how to embrace my curl. I nervously obliged. She plopped a handful of oil in my hair, scrunched it, and had me flip my head to the side. A few minutes later, I looked like a different person. It turned out that I did have my daddy’s hair after all, just a bit more fine.

So what about post-stylist appointment? Well, I’m still embracing the curl. Of course it’s not as polished as how she did it, but it still looks pretty damn good. I still have to find a happy balance of how much oil to put into my locks, but I think that’s going to change week by week. And it’s easy too! I don’t have to use a ton of heat (or any at all) to tame the mane! It’s easy to just wash it, throw in some of my home made hair cream concoctions, and either blow dry or air dry. From there I can leave it as is or throw it in a top knot without any care. Lazy and simple, just how I like it.

$57.02

I’ve been sick for a couple of weeks. My reaction to snow mold turned into a full blown sinus infection. I tried everything up my sleeve: inhalers, nasal sprays, OTC meds, humidifiers, changing the settings on our air exchange, I’ve drank my weight in hot tea, numerous eucalyptus baths. Everything. I finally waved white flag and opted to see a doctor.

The next time my American friends are faced with thought of universal healthcare, I want you to think of $57.02 USD. ($76.12 CAD.)

That would have been my out of pocket cost over the weekend if I had zero medical coverage for seeing a PHYSICIAN, not a PA or a RN, but an actual doctor, AND for the cost of my two prescriptions, all combined. That’s it. (For reference, you’ll spend $89-119 at the Kroger Little Clinic to see a RN or LPN, then another $12 and $58 for the prescriptions at Kroger.)

So how was it? Surprisingly not bad. I went to the walk in clinic close to our home. I had a piece of paper stating who I was, my chief complaints, and apologized because it hurt to speak out lout. The gentleman took my information, wrote my name down, told me it’d be a 2 hour wait to be seen, but that I was welcome to leave and come back. Also, it would be $35 for my exam because my Canadian health card was not in my possession yet, but that I could most likely submit that for reimbursement. I picked up a few things from the store and came back later. When I came back, there was still a small wait. Once I got back to the exam room, I still wanted another 25-30 minutes. I wasn’t seen by a nurse beforehand. There was no tech taking my vitals. The doctor walked in and he did all of that himself. We had a quick chat. I understood the wait. Even though this was a walk-in clinic and this doctor was obviously flooded with patients and a thousand things going on at once, he actually took his time and listened. As an EMT, it’s surprising when I feel heard. He confirmed my suspicion of allergy induced sinus infection.

Now here’s the part that surprised me. Due to being from out of the country, not currently working yet, and my health card is still on the way, he had the courtesy to ask about my financial status, albeit in a gentle and professional way. He explained that for what I’m going through, he has a preference of what to prescribe, but that even the generic was a little expensive, and that if I couldn’t afford it or if the cost wasn’t offset by our prescription coverage, he’d give me something different that should at least help. Thankfully our coverage is pretty good and covered most of the cost. But even without coverage, it would have been about $24 CAD / $18 USD here, as opposed to the $58 USD in the states. Regardless, I had the means to cover the cost, but I loved that he had the mind to ask.

I know a lot of people that equate “free” and universal healthcare to socialism. Prior to coming to Canada, I didn’t have enough information to have an opinion. Now that I’m here? I hope the US adopts this system. Sure it might take a little longer to get care for some things (like the hangnail you called 911 for at 4am,) but it’s a fantastic system!

Nutritional Consistency in Children

A year or two after I received a diagnosis of diabetes and had glucose stability issues, nutrition became a huge part of my life. At the start of my nutrition journey, I went into hardcore keto mode (I’m talking true keto, not just super low carb. I mean perfect macros, a ton of vitamina/supplements, fasting, baking soda in my water, full on anti inflammation insanity.) Why? Because it gave my pancreas time to rest. After some time, the ole girl did some significant healing and I’m much more stable than I was before. Now? Definitely not hardcore keto, but I definitely watch what I eat. I do stick to the lower end of the carbohydrate spectrum, try to eat as few processed foods as possible, and try to choke down a cup of hot tea when I remember to. I feel that just like when working in the medical field, no dietary idea is right for the same two people. Everyone is different. I feel that everyone could benefit from a gluten free, no added sugar, and minimally processed foods diet. Some folks need to follow a keto diet. Some folks need to follow Paleo. Some folks are blessed with amazing metabolism and genetics and don’t have to worry about what they put in their face holes.

But what about kids?
Specifically what about kids who bounce back and forth between more than one home? What of their diets, consistencies, and gut health?

When it comes to co-parenting, my husband had to set some boundaries due to conflicts in communication. We feel the need to live by a strict notion of “what happens in the opposing house is none of your business” (for both parties concerned.) Obviously within reason — for instance when our 7yo kid came home with a huge wound on his chin and said it was because he pulled something out of the oven and got burned, obviously some clarification will be sought out. Most other things like discipline, expectations, routine, diet, etc? None of our business, none of their mother’s business.

Despite it being none of my business, as I’m getting the kids’ room tidied up and the bathroom stocked with extra TP that they usually need, I can’t help but to wonder about the effect of the divorce on the kids’ gut health and how the dietary differences between their homes may have influence their health and well-being. If you ask my step kids about added sugars, they will tell you that at Dad’s house they only have it on special occasions and holidays. My oldest stepson constantly asks if different foods have sugar in them. I asked him why he wonders about it so much. His reply was “I want to make sure it won’t make you sick.” Be still, my beating heart. ❤️ But when the kids say that their desserts at Mom’s is usually ice cream every night, I take that with a grain of salt and chalk it up to trying to get more ice cream. (In which, HA-HAH! Joke’s on them. My husband got me an ice cream maker for Christmas so I can make my own healthy ice cream!) However when they state that a lot of their meals are from McDonald’s and Tim Horton’s, I tend to believe it since old fast food bags can be seen piled up and/or falling out when the kids get out of their mother’s SUV. Or when we are cooking together and they make comments about how they like learning how to make things and helping, that a lot of the things we make, Mom makes them from a box. It makes me cringe, but I take a deep breath and remind myself that it’s none of my business. Or is it?

At what point are dietary consistencies in children after a divorce concerning? The oldest has some attention issues, the middle child has constant UTIs and a chromosome condition in which her weight really needs to be watched. The youngest has eczema issues. And all three of my step kids have digestive issues when they come home here, starting with constipation, and ending with them being cleaned out by Saturday night. All of which could be remedied by dietary changes and consistencies. What does one do?? Do we keep introducing them to different types of whole foods and just deal with the blow outs from the fiber? Feed them probiotics? Because goodness, I don’t think I could bring myself to feed them an unhealthy diet. I’m not saying there’s not a bag of cereal in the closet just for them. Sometimes cereal is just more convenient at 6am when you’ve got to leave in 45 minutes in order to get to a hockey game nearly 3 hours away. But a diet overloaded with convenience foods?? I just can’t do it. I pride myself in meal creativity and food prep. Regardless, I just can’t seem to find much information on how kids fair with dietary inconsistencies or how to deal with them.

Time to stock up on more TP!

Wind Down

Wow, it’s been a hell of a February. We had co-parenting conflicts, financial burden, immigration chaos, car problems, stomach viruses, a light case of depression, everything. If it could go wrong, it did go wrong.

I feel like I’ve hardly been able to keep my feet on the ground this past month. In turn, that made me take a step away from a lot of online presences in order to help recoup my sense of self. Car problems led to being cooped up in the house, which led to cabin fever, which led to feeling very bleh, like I had no sense of purpose at that moment. From there, I spent a couple weeks criticizing every little thing about myself, from the little bit weight I’ve gained to how gross my hair and skin feel from climate change, to . Which is peculiar because, well, I’m pretty awesome and since my early to mid 20’s, have always loved myself no matter my shape, size, mood, or anything. I rock!

Winding down and decompressing has been a priority. I took the liberty of prepping my bullet journal so that I can set myself up for success in journaling in March. After a multitude of different types and styles, I’ve finally found a hot tea that I enjoy and can wind down with. I’ve also gotten all of my crocheting and knitting projects competed (for the moment.) Spring cleaning has been a thing, getting everything organized and tidied up.

What things do you guys do to wind down and recoup?

We Don’t Deserve Dogs

Today, a previous coworker of mine announced a heartbreaking tragedy. Her dog of 9 years passed away. They had been working with a vet to treat her for back pain, but turned out that she had cancer. Tears streamed down my face and into my coffee as I wept over the loss of a dog I hadn’t even met before.

My own dog jumped into my lap and licked my nose.

Alas, I should probably write an ode to Hannah, but I didn’t know her. I did, however, know her love. Because the love of a dog is like no other.

We don’t deserve dogs.

There are no words for how much I love my dog, Jack. He’s somewhere around 5 years old right now, and with any luck, I’ll won’t have to say goodbye for a decade. You see, this dog has literally saved my life.

“Do you want a dog?” I really didn’t at the time. I was close to graduating from college, life was a bit wishy-washy, and I felt like garbage all the time. But, out of pity, I asked if I could do a trial run to see if he would have been a good fit for my lifestyle. The moment Jack entered my arms, I knew I wasn’t going to let him go.

He smelled. Bad. His bath water was black by the time I was done washing him. He was barely 6 pounds and at over a year old, he still had baby teeth that had to be surgically removed. To say he was skittish was an understatement.

Jack and I took some puppy training classes together in order to get him to trust me. I got him into a vet to fix his teeth, remove a deformed dewclaw, and put some meat on his bones. Within a few weeks, I became this dog’s person.

Little did I know that his nose knows. I had a diabetic episode in the middle of the night. Jack did everything he could to alert me, despite being terrified of EVERYTHING. And thus a service dog was born. We expanded our obedience training into scent training as well. I applied what I knew from cadaver dog training and EMS into Jack. He became my new glucometer!

As years passed, Jack became my best friend and became my travel companion too. My husband was the first person he felt comfortable around aside from me, which in a way, helped seal our fates. Jack even moved to Canada with me. ❤️ And he extended his love to my husband’s kids too, becoming the greatest early morning babysitter in the world, spinning in circle chasing his tail endlessly, to make our youngest giggle.

So Hannah, rear easy dear girl. Though I didn’t know you, I’m glad to know that you’re no longer suffering. I’ll miss seeing your sweet face on social media. Thanks for reminder to show my dog a little extra love.