Wednesday, September 6, 2017

When Life Does "The Thing" And Freaks You Out

There are certain things in life that happen to people, that you always hope and pray will never happen to you. Never. As in... never ever ever.

One of those things is "that phone call" at some ungodly hour where most normal people are sleeping but... someone isn't, because someone you love dearly is in distress, and you're getting a phone call about it.   That was my house last Tuesday morning. I think it was around 5:30-ish?  It could have been earlier, I'm not really sure. I just heard it ringing, realized it was still an ungodly hour and braced myself for whatever the message was about to me, when I picked up.

"There is no easy way to say this, but Kev has had a heart attack and he's in ICU".  Said the voice on the other end of the line. Immediately my brain went into auto-pilot.  

When, where, how, how bad, which hospital, what floor? All I needed were the facts, as I was getting dressed while asking and hearing the answers. In the back of my mind and from the deepest place in my heart I kept hearing a voice that sounded oddly like my own: "please Lord, let him live, please Lord, let him live".  He answered that plea, and indeed did let him live. The next 4 days were kind of blur, but they included numerous trips down the freeway, a lot of crying, a lot of hugging, a lot of praying, a lot of conversations that started with "what if..."  and a lot of drive-thru dinners. To say it was an extreme emotional rollercoaster is truly the understatement of the decade. For our family, it was a massive face-plant into a concrete wall. 

By His grace and mercy, God chose to bring Kev back from a potential deadly situation and place him in the care of some brilliant and wonderful cardiac experts. He was released a few days later and he's been home recovering for the last 5 days.

For those regular readers, you already know I once had a crash course in malignant melanoma and became a sort of medical expert on signs, symptoms and treatments, and in this case, it's sort of the same thing. It's what you do for those you love - you consume every word, every definition, every potential side affect of every drug, whether you can pronounce the name of the drug or not. 

I've spent the last several days learning all about good cholesterol, bad cholesterol, stents, blood thinners, beta blockers, symptoms, side affects, cardiac rehab, stress tests, and about a hundred other things I'm not even thinking about right now.

Interestingly enough, one of the most important things I've learned in the last week is just how critically important nutrition is, for those with heart disease.  Good nutrition and a healthy, balanced eating schedule is so important, it ranks right up there with any and all prescription meds and taking them on time every day.

It's no surprise to me and really shouldn't be to anyone else but as it turns out, natural, home cooked meals with fresh veggies and lean meats, poultry and fish,  fresh fruits and good old fashioned oatmeal, beans, nuts and seeds...  is still the very best thing for anyone, but especially those with heart disease.  Fast food & pre-packaged store bought trash? Yeah, both are a recipe for disaster. They always have been, no matter how convenient they are. At the end of the day, if they're contributing (and they are, trust me) to clogged arteries and potential heart attacks... they're not really all that convenient, are they?

Our family has done a fast and hard core 180 on the food issue. We've gutted the pantry, spice cupboard, fridge and freezer and literally going back to the basics. 

Thanks to the recipe section at the American Heart Association,  we're one family that has made the choice to dump the trash and eat clean, and healthy.   I've been posting some of the things we've been making and eating on my FB page here. 

Kev has a long way to go to get back to a genuinely healthy place, but him and I are both committed to seeing him get there, on every level.  Your prayers would most certainly be appreciated in our new journey. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

It's Time to Say Goodbye

Everyone that knows me knows how much I love summer. If I could live year round in shorts, a tank top and flip flops, I'd be the happiest girl on the planet. Maybe all the planets. But as it turns out, where I live summer comes and then it goes and I have to say goodbye for another (too many!) handful of long months.  We had a phenomenal summer in southern Ontario this year, beginning with the first backyard barbeque/birthday party we had the weekend of May 28th.  It was 99 degrees that day. Fahrenheit, that is. (If it were 99 in Canadian degrees, I'm sure you'd have heard about it long before now. I like hot weather, but 210F is a little out of my comfort zone.) The pool was busy, the sandbox was busy and plenty of ice cold beverages to go around as the heat of the day gave way to the gorgeous orange sunset and the firebowl was lit up for an evening of s'mores, music and laughter (and mosquitos - it's just a package deal). And that set the tone for the summer of 2016.  Hard to believe that was almost four months ago but the crispy brown leaves in the sandbox tell me it most certainly was.

So as I set out to begin my annual end-of-summer clean up of the back yard and get it ready for all the trees to lose their leaves and then a long, snow-covered winter, I found some pretty awesome little souvenirs.

• Hotwheels cars partially buried in the mulch near the fence, patiently waiting for a little boy to find them and race them as fast as they can

• Pink, blue, yellow and red mostly deflated birthday balloons that found their way into and under the bushes after a birthday party... almost as if they were hiding, waiting for another child to find them and play with them just one more time

• Colorful plastic straws, bubble wands (and empty bubble bottles) & popsicle sticks buried in the sandbox

• Hair ties, sunglasses & metal s'mores skewers, in various places around the fire bowl. Leftovers from an evening of good times where the solar lanterns started to fade at the end of the night

I collected all those things and then rinsed off every plastic sandbox toy and placed it back in the bright green bin. One by one, summer fun went into the bin. I raked all the leaves out of the sandbox and then put the cover on.  I turned and looked at the bin and this is what I saw.  The shark/whale dude made me smile. 

If these toys could speak, here's what they'd have to say:

"Thank you so much for playing with us this summer! We had so much fun helping you build castles and tunnels and mountains and caves. You even took us to the pool and threw us in there! Wheeee!! Our time is over for now, but we wish you a happy Halloween, a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day and a great spring break!  You'll have lots of other toys to play with all winter and spring but we'll be back next summer, and we will be so excited to see you again, Jocelyn, Connor, Hailey, Roman, Landon and Liv.  Please bring Aleah with you too so we can have fun with her also! Grandma and Grandpa will make sure there will be even more of us for you all to play with.  Much love, The Sandbox Toys"

So off they go into storage until then. We plan on having a couple of autumn bonfires before the weather really turns but our time in the refuge of the back yard is quickly coming to a close. 

So until then... Goodbye Summer 2016, you were supremely wonderful. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Think it Through

It never ceases to amaze me how many times I've wanted to start a blog post with

"It never ceases to amaze me..." Mostly because, God is pretty incredible and never stops amazing me.

Today while at the grocery store my heart was heavy over an issue my husband and I seem to disagree on. It's nothing earth shattering but it's one of those issues we've discussed many many times and while it seems like we agree on it at the time, and during discussion, in practice it seems like it takes on a different interpretation. In other words, it seems like we agree verbally but his actions appear to tell a different story.

So I was frustrated with him. I wanted to talk about it again with him and was going over in my head how I would bring it up without sounding like a nag and how I was going to really get him to come around to my way of thinking (because of course, I'm right about this issue and he knows it).   I hadn't really come up with a good way to broach the subject again when suddenly the thought popped into my head  "what am I missing?"  Immediately I wanted to reject the idea that I was the one missing anything. No, it had to be him. He had to be the one that was wrong and I had to be the one that was right because... pride, I guess? No no, it couldn't be that, because he had already said he agreed with me.  So it had to be some other reason he was wrong in his actions.  Surely it couldn't be me?!

Of course the more I thought about it as I walked through the store shopping and then putting bags in the van I realized it was sinful pride rearing it's ugly old head causing me to be so adamant that I was right and he was wrong. I also knew it was the Holy Spirit convicting me of my sinful, selfish, prideful thoughts and  I decided to submit my thoughts to the possibility that I really was missing something and that's exactly how I chose to start the conversation with him when I got home.

The conversation went incredibly well, and lasted for nearly an hour while the groceries sat right there on the counter.  As it turns out, after I explained to him my frustration with how we agree verbally, his actions appear to disagree he was able to explain why and it made perfect sense. I was in fact missing something, and the most ironic thing is, it was something I once said to him about my own actions and I never even thought of applying it to his actions.  So even though it turned out I was actually right (we both were), I was also very wrong in my attitude about the whole thing.  Holy Spirit Conviction 101.

I wanted to share this because it matters a great deal that you search your own heart about your motives, your attitude and your thought process about things before you ever open your mouth.  You can be 100% spot on about something but if your attitude or your approach stinks, no one cares and no one is going to want to listen.  I knew if I came home and just dumped my thoughts on my husband it was going to put him on the defense (naturally, as it would me if he did the same).  I'm glad I took the time to mull it over in my head because that was the time the Holy Spirit used to convict me.  These are all things I already know, but they're also things I tend to very easily forget.

In this day of social media and breaking news that seems to be so tragic and emotional, it's easy to not stop and think before we react and usually with an emotional reaction instead of a well thought out one. That's almost never a good idea.

Just some food for thought.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Party Planning 101: RSVP

I've mentioned the importance of the RSVP before here at the blog but it's always timely to mention it again.

This past week we sent out these invitations for our youngest daughter's birthday party. As always, with the designs I create for personal use or for commercial use, there is an RSVP line for guests. Of course I've blocked it out here because the entire world is not actually invited :) but it's there for all the guests and their parents to see.

Here are some really really important reasons for parents planning a birthday party for kids, to hear from you, as the parents of kids who have been invited:

1. Basic party planning.  Parents need to know ahead of time how many paper plates, cups, goody bags, goody bag contents, etc. to buy.  If it's a sleep-over or a camp out party, they need to know how much space to reserve or how many extra blankets or pillows to have on hand. Adequate accommodations for all the guests is the goal.

2. FOOD.  A couple of huge categories here.  One is allergies and the other is vegan/vegetarian. These days, a lot of kids have particular food allergies and other kids have a vegan or vegetarian only lifestyle and that's important for the parents planning the party to know about well ahead of time. You don't want any of the kids to feel left out in any way, so knowing this information ahead of time can be very helpful.  It's a simple matter of talking to the parents and discussing alternatives for food planning.

In our case, with this party we're planning on having burgers, hot dogs, fruit salad, cupcakes and ice cream and one of the girls attending is vegan (no meat products and no animal by-products).  I already knew that so I talked to her mother (who RSVP'd) to discuss alternatives for her dinner as well as her treats. Of course we want all of our daughter's guests to have a fun time at the party so making a few small, simple changes here and there, makes that happen. None of the kids have food allergies but if they did we'd make sure to make those exceptions as well.

So whenever your child receives a party invitation, be sure to RSVP and let the parents planning the party know your child will be there, and be sure to mention any concerns you might have. And for the party planning parents - make sure you get back to the guest's parents ASAP and ask those important questions: are there any food allergies I need to be aware of - or are there any other dietary concerns?

Most parents these days understand different food situations and will be glad to work with you to make sure all the kids have a great time.