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.

Surprise!

On Monday, I embarked on a two day drive back to Kentucky. One if my closest and dearest friends went through a major life event that I wanted to support and show some love for.

The drive was exhausting. It’s a little over 1500 miles one way. My husband made that journey multiple times while we were dating long distance. It made me appreciate him so much more than I already do. Seriously. The drive sucked so bad. It was long, boring, and the last half of it was filled with a storm and heavy traffic. My husband did this many many times. Through rain, snow, and Lord knows what else. It was exhausting and I couldn’t imagine doing it multiple times no matter how much I loved someone. I would have flown if I were him. But it just makes me appreciate him so much more.

My friend had no idea I was coming. I coordinated everything with her other half and kept him up to date with my trip progression and arrival time. I parked a couple houses down with a gift in tow and he snuck me in the house. As I entered the house, her oldest daughter looked up and nearly squealed. I pushed my finger up, telling her to be quiet, and proceeded down the hall. “Ya know, the next time I decide to hand deliver a gift, I’m going to fly.” She was stunned and couldn’t believe her eyes. It was perfect. I enjoy making people that I care about feel loved. While I miss my home and my husband deeply, this adventure was important to me.

The next day, I got some work done on my car prior to selling her then proceeded to head to my old stomping ground of ten years. I wanted to see some of my coworkers, one of which is also one of my closest friends. They’ve got downtown torn up, so navigation was problematic. Plus, you couldn’t get down to security headquarters in the same ways you used to be able to, so I wasn’t sure how to get through the locked doors. So I went down to the other security office and started banging on the door. The look of surprise was a good feeling, and I secured an escort through the building for myself. We meandered down the back halls and made way to my old office. I really wanted to see my old managers. One looks more aged than I remembered, stressed from all of the company changes. My other was super excited and surprised. We had lunch together for old times sake, which was nice. I think I made him feel important. I hope so.

Eventually I sold my car. Not for as much as I’d like to, but I got it out of the way. Now I’m packed up and trying to rest a little before flying back to Canada in the morning.

This trip taught me something. Even though I miss a couple of friends, this place isn’t home. My birthplace doesn’t feel like home either. Canada. Canada is home and it’s the first time I’ve felt like that in a very very long time. I finally feel like I belong somewhere. And that’s an overwhelming, but secure, feeling.

Fresh Air

There’s something amazing about Canada. I lived in, what I would consider, a fairly clean small city in the US for over a decade. We had plenty of farms and green space outside out of city’s center. While it has its fair share of rush hour, there are plenty of green spaces to unplug and get back to your roots. I was born and raised by the coast, growing up with my toes in the sand with waves crashing by.

Neither hold a candle to Canada.

I haven’t explored as much as I’d like to, but I’ve found myself spending a little more time outdoors here. From my first visit to Canada in BC to simply parks around town in here in SK. The best I can describe is it just smells different here. It feels clean. It feels different.

I find myself spending more time with the great outdoors here. Be it meeting with friends for a barbeque or taking the kids on park-sided adventures or simply walking the dog. It’s nice. It’s relaxing. Unplugging and being in nature has been a fantastic stress relief too.

Where’s your favorite place outdoors?

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.

Working Woman

Life has been chaos the past few months. I’ve been repeatedly sick and had multiple hurdles to jump with immigration. I’m happy to report now that I have my work permit and have been working for a few weeks now (hence the hiatus.)

I learned quite a lot from being off work for 6 months. I could never been a house wife or a stay at home mom. Sorry, but I went crazy. There was only so much I could clean. My poor husband came home to multiple furniture layout changes. Honestly, my self esteem took a pretty big hit too. I started losing my sense of self and although I had plenty in savings and was helping out financially from that, I still felt like I wasn’t contributing to the household.

It was hell.

Thankfully my work permit came in. I started applying for positions as soon as it was approved. With a ten year tenure on my resume and a gleaming reference from my old manager, it took almost no time at all to land an interview. I almost didn’t even go to the interview of the position I accepted. It was for a “customer service rep,” but I’m honestly not sure why it’s called that, as I have almost no contact with customers outside of forwarding them to someone else. Anywho, the interview was great. I got a call back a couple of days later with an informal offer, followed by a written offer a few days after that.

Training was hell. The girl I was replacing and I have different ways of doing things. Plus she spent the majority of her time on her phone instead of paying attention to if I was doing the job correctly or not. My superiors have noticed. And there are a LOT of things that I do differently such as basic accounting…

So far, I like the job. The job itself is a little challenging, but easy all in the same. And even better is that I have room to eventually grow, which is something I didn’t have at my old job. And the best for last…. I have my sense of self again!

$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!