Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What's cooking Wednesday

I'm back!  At least for this week.... I somehow have my act together tonight to put up a post for WCW.  It's been a while.

Tonight I made a great new chicken recipe that will likely become a summer favourite around here.  It is from a favourite cookbook of mine that I've featured here many times before, Crazy Plates.

Chicks on Sticks

2 tbsp soy sauce and brown sugar
1 tbsp each olive oil and grated lemon zest
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large shallot, minced (I used red onion)
1 1/2 tsp grated gingeroot
1 tsp each ground cumin and ground coriander
4 (I used 3) boneless skinless chicken breast halve, cut into 1-inch cubes
8 wooden or metal skewers

For marinade, combine all ingredients except chicken in a small bowl.  Pour marinade over chicken pieces in a large, plastic re-sealable bag.  Make sure all pieces are coated.  Marinate overnight or all day.

If using wooden skewers, soak in water for at least 20 minutes before using to prevent burning.  Prepare grill.  Thread chicken onto skewers.  Grill 4-5 minutes per side until done.

These were a big hit with John, Emily and I.  Hope decided to eat one bean tonight for supper.  I guess nothing can top liver in her books.  Ugh.  I'll definitely be making these again.  The chicken stayed very moist and the marinade penetrated through each piece.  Lots and lots of flavour.

Liver sucks.

You know those things you decide when you were a kid that you realize as an adult you were totally off-base about?  Things like... coffee tastes bad.  Or smoking looks cool.  Or it makes sense not to wear socks in my shoes when it is minus 10 outside.

Yesterday I discovered something I was TOTALLY RIGHT ABOUT when I was a kid.

Liver sucks.

I made liver last night in an effort to boost my vitamin B levels thinking it could be a key to whatever is going on in my body.  I liked that it cost me $2 for a giant package.  I found a recipe on Allrecipes that said "Even my husband, who hates liver, loved this!  It doesn't taste like liver."  Sounded like the right recipe for me.  Because I LOATHE LIVER.  And always have.

My mum loved liver.  She made it for our family maybe twice before she stopped trying due to all the moans and protests and gagging and whatnot.  She still would order it in restaurants if there was calf liver available, her favourite.  

The liver I made last night was promising enough although I found it stomach-turning to have to slice the stuff.  It already had the liver smell and it is very gelatinous.  It reminded me too much of a CSI episode.  The sauce had lots of good flavours - brown sugar, Worstershire sauce, ketchup, garlic.

Unfortunately, the reality is nothing can mask the flavour and texture of liver.

I was totally right as a kid.  Liver sucks.

John was a pig in shite though.  He loves liver and in ten years of marriage we've never had it for dinner.  I announced last night that he'd be waiting ten more to have it again.

And what did the kids think?  Emily tasted it and said she didn't like it (smart kid).  Hope tasted it and asked for three more pieces.  Again, John was a pig in shite and kept saying how much he loved Hope and what a good girl she is, blah blah blah.  I credit it to undeveloped taste buds.  I mean, the kid dips waffles into ketchup.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A daring summer?

I am so excited! Today I received a copy of the new Double Daring Book for Girls from Harper Collins and I can't wait to start digging in.  I've browsed through the entire thing and it looks great.  I'm going to be part of a "book shower" for this book in the coming weeks but I also plan to do a lot of the activities and adventures with the girls this summer.  I'll make sure to blog about every one and give you a review of the book (which so far looks great).

Like sands in the hourglass....

The days are ticking away until we have to vacate our house.  June 30 is looming large and to walk into our house you would have no idea we weren't planning on being here for the next year.  The house looks very, um, lived in.

It's been hard to be motivated to work through the usual clutter and start packing when your body doesn't cooperate by feeling well.  But this week I have to start in earnest.  The first step will be to decide on a good and well-priced storage unit nearby.  Any recommendations?

The next step will be to start to go through things to get rid of (if ever there was an opportunity to de-clutter, it's now) and prepare for either a garage sale or a big donation to Salvation Army.  In particular need of attention is our garage and storage areas in the house.  

I'm also going to sell a toy or two.  The first thing to be put up, sadly, will be the beautiful doll house I got for Emily's birthday last year.  She hasn't played with it once.  Hope occasionally walks around the house dragging pieces from it but that's pretty much all the action it has seen.  If anyone is interested in a (almost) fully equipped Plan Toys First Dollhouse, send me an email.  So sad.

And after that I have to get boxes and actually start packing.  Since the weather has beautified our weekends have started to fill up and time seems to be speeding by.  We have to fit a visit to Kitchener in to look for a house/apartment.  June 30 will be here (ack!) before we know it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The power of a family doctor

I'm just back from my latest appointment with my GP.  I'm so extraordinarily frustrated.  I asked her if she would check my hormone levels and gave my reasons.  She said it wasn't warranted at this point and gave her reasons.  Problem is that I think my reasons are better but I'm not the doctor and have no power to order the test.  She does.  She doesn't want to.  Therefore, it won't happen until she decides she wants it.

And so, here I sit, no further than before, feeling like crap most of the time, wondering what is wrong with me and having what seems like no one in my corner trying their best to figure it out.

What I have is someone trying their worst.  Which really sucks.

I'm so happy that I'll have a chance, as inconvenient as it is, to have a different doctor as of July.

A review of Suzy Welch's 10-10-10

Mom Central chose me to review the newest book by Suzie Welch, 10-10-10 A Life Transforming Idea.  While not normally one for self-help books (I honestly don't remember the last time I picked one up.... maybe 1997?  Maybe never?), I'm really enjoying this.  And in fact, I don't think I'd describe it as self-help.  Here is the description from Amazon to give you a plot-line, so to speak:

Any choice you make -any decision -

will benefit from 


We all want to lead a life of our own making. But in today's accelerated world, with its competing priorities, information overload, and confounding options, we can easily find ourselves steered by impulse, stress, or expedience. Are our decisions the right ones? Or are we being governed, time and time again, and against our best intentions, by the demands of the moment?

 A transformative new approach to decision making, 10-10-10 is a tool for reclaiming your life at home, in love, and at work. The process is clear, straightforward, and transparent. In fact, when you're facing a dilemma, all it takes to begin are three questions: What are the consequences of my decision in 10 minutes?

 In 10 months? And in 10 years?

 Sound simple? Not quite. Recounting poignant stories from her own life and the lives of many other dedicated 10-10-10 users, Suzy Welch reveals how exploring the impact of our decisions in multiple time frames invariably surfaces our unconscious agendas, fears, needs, and desires -- and ultimately helps us identify and live according to our deepest goals and values.

 10-10-10's applicability is uniquely broad. Whether it is used by college students or busy mothers or senior business executives, artists, government administrators, or entrepreneurs, 10-10-10 has shown its effectiveness in decisions large and small, routine and radical, consistently changing lives for the better.


When I first started to read the book, I had to wonder how she would draw this fairly simple idea out for the length of an entire book.  She does so by applying her 10-10-10 system to relationships, career choices and work issues, parenting and friendships.  She also flushes out the basic concept of 10-10-10 decision-making by discussing how using this method to make small to big decisions will ultimately lead to a clear definition of our values, right down to very specific values such as "I want to learn how to plumb my own house."  You know, in case that is a value for you.

She pulls in example after example from people who have been using her method to illustrate every point.  I find her examples are probably the best "teaching" tool in how to use her method.  It quickly makes the process clear and shows how it really does help define values in your life. 


After reading a couple of chapters I found myself applying 10-10-10 to past decisions I've made and found at least one big decision that likely would have resulted in a different result had I thought harder of the consequences at the 10-year mark.  Or at least, I would have had more to think about to make a more fully-informed decision. 


This week I was stewing about whether to make yet another appointment to see my GP about this health mystery I'm experiencing.  I've been feeling like I'm annoying her office.  I decided to try out the 10-10-10 method.  The first thing you do is put your decision in the form of a question: "Should I go to the doctor again this week?"  And then I considered the consequences of my decision in 10 minutes, 10 months, 10 years.  In 10 minutes, if I decided to go, I would feel that I was taking action myself and not waiting to hear from others.  I needed to find out what I would be able to do when we move to Kitchener if I don't have a family doctor to access and asking my current GP seemed like the best way to proceed.  If I didn't make an appointment, I would still be sitting worrying about the way forward and what to do in Kitchener.  In 10 months, seeing my GP this week may have no effect.  It's possible I'll still have these health issues but at least I'd know that I took things into my own hands when I needed to and didn't just let the system stall.  In 10 years, I hope that my GP will know that I control my own health care and remember this in the next health issues I encounter.  Of course, if things continue as they have been, I plan to have a new GP by then.  So, my decision was pretty simple.  I made the appointment.


It seems like a pretty simple decision and it was.  It took me all of 3 minutes.  The book takes you through examples of much larger ones where the person actually took pen and paper and worked out consequences, realized they needed to collect more "data" (think about things more, ask more questions, look into what the results of certain decisions would be by talking to other people), focus on what their values really were in relation to the decision.  I wanted to try it as an exercise and I liked how it helped me focus on me and the consequences of decisions.  I'm definitely going to be applying 10-10-10 as a decision-making tool.  I can see it as a great way to make decisions with your partner and children as well.  It also serves as a clear way to explain decisions to others that they may not initially understand or accept.


If you're interested in the book and live in Ottawa, I'd be happy to lend it to you.  Otherwise, you can find it at Chapters or Amazon. 


Hey, even if you're just interested in Suzy Welch and her take on the scandal she created when she hooked up with Jack Welch resulting in her ultimate firing from Harvard Business Review, you'll probably find something interesting here from a whole voyeurism perspective.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

And so it goes....

Blog, what blog?

Oh, right, this place.  This place that I've been ignoring for almost a week.  I caused my mother-in-law a near panic attack given that I'm suffering from some unknown illness and have been uncharacteristically absent from here for a while.  Sorry, Rose.

I've had pretty bad fatigue the last several days, to the point that I just couldn't focus my mind on anything but keeping the kids reasonably happy and getting supper on the table.  That was pretty much all I could do.  And sleep, of course.  But, given that Hope is napping less and less consistently, sleep wasn't something I was able to do much of.

I've made another appointment with my GP for Friday.  I plan to ask for as many tests as she can throw at me, specifically checking my hormones and for any spinal disc issues, before we move at the end of June.  My problem is that I have no diagnosis so far and as of July 1 I'll have no access to full-time family doctor, unless I beg one long enough to take me for one year or I drive to Ottawa frequently to see my so-far-less-than-stellar GP.  Other than that, all I can do is go to a walk-in clinic often enough but then I'll just get whoever is on that night and no consistency of care.  Not a good option.

The old cleanse is getting tiresome.  I could really use some red meat, a thick slice of homemade bread with butter, pretty much anything normal right now.  I have seen an improvement in my digestive system but not in the neurological symptoms I have.  And of course, I'm still as tired as all get-out.

I sure could use some answers.

However, on the bright side, I've discovered a few new recipes that have been winners.  I plan to share them.  Today would make sense as it is Shan's What's Cooking Wednesday but the recipes are all the way upstairs.  

I mean, c'mon.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The appointment

My appointment with the neurologist went fine.  He was nice enough, a total science nerd which I guess is what you want, slightly lacking in bedside manner but not too bad, and unfortunately, a quiet-talker.  I had to ask him to repeat himself at least four times.  I'm surprised he didn't refer me to an ear, nose, throat specialist.  

He did all his clinical tests - walking across the floor on tip toes and heels, balancing and jumping on one leg and then the other, reflexes and feeling vibrations, eye tests.  His words afterward were "you look fine but it warrants further investigation."  He said because my tests in his office and my bloodwork didn't show anything abnormal, he wants an MRI of my head and neck.  I should have that done in the next six weeks or so (which is better than I hear for MRI wait times).  I'll meet with him again after that.

I asked him if what is going on then is not neurological.  He said "not necessarily... you could have something but it isn't showing up yet."  

So, I'll be able to get this MRI done and another appointment with him before we move for the year.  From there, if  I still need to see a neurologist, I'll ask for a transfer to Toronto where I can see people much faster and get tests done more quickly.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Toilet update

Hope sort of blew the lid, in a sense, off the whole toilet training thing this weekend.  She has started asking to use the toilet during certain times of the day... and actually goes pee!  Of course, it often has to be her decision and when it is convenient for her.  If I try and get her on there when she isn't interested, it absolutely and positively will not happen.

I haven't tried her in underwear yet because I'm pretty sure she'll pee in them.  Or worse.  However, I did put her in Pull-Ups the other day and she really liked them.  She calls them Tull-Ups.  Go figure.

I'm amazed by how she's figured it out so quickly.  And with so little stress to me.  It is such a contrast to my experience with Emily.  I didn't approach Emily's toilet training well I realize now.  I'm taking a much more relaxed approach this time and it is paying off HUGE.

Just a short update now on my health saga: I've decided to conduct a wee experiment and see when my doctor's office is actually going to call me about an appointment with a neurologist.  Right now we're almost 4 weeks away from when my doctor suggested it.  Last Tuesday they told me they faxed the form to a neurologist's office.  I still haven't heard.  Want to place a bet?  Given that we're moving out of Ottawa on June 30, I'm guessing I'll be seeing a neurologist in Kitchener or Toronto.  In the meantime, I saw my naturopath yesterday and I'm undergoing a cleanse, taking a bunch of herbs and doing some other things.  We'll see if it makes a difference.  I have high hopes that it will.  

As for today, I plan to get out in the garden and plant some lettuce and onions - things I can harvest before we move!  The rest of the summer, I'll be gardening at the cottage.
Edit:  I totally lose the bet!  I just got a call from the neuro office saying they have a cancellation at 1:30 today!  Hooray!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Weekend report and other news

Happy belated Easter to everyone!  Without my desktop, my blogging has ground almost to a halt.  Hopefully I'll hear from the Mac Store very soon and have my computer back in action.  

We had a great Easter weekend.  John's sister and her family stayed with us while his mom stayed at his brother's house in Riverside South.  We all congregated on Saturday afternoon for a birthday party for our niece Sofia, who turned one yesterday.  

We had a great time with everyone.  The girls LOVED running through the house non-stop with their two cousins.  The adults loved that that girls entertained each other while we relaxed (mostly).  While we mostly stayed around the house, we also went to two parks, played outside, and visited Parliament Hill.  The weekend ended with an Easter brunch at our house.

I've also been sitting on some biggish news around here.  Last week we had two of John's grad students come over to look at our house and meet with us.  Yesterday they told us that their going to rent it for the next year while John is on sabbatical.  Although we originally hoped to spend the whole year in Texas, we'll be basing ourselves in Kitchener (pretty exotic, eh?) and spending December and January in Texas.  Emily will be going to school there and we'll be spending ample time with very close friends there.  We plan on living a student-type existence for the year enabling us to afford to be in Texas for two months and also reminding us all about how little you actually need to live a good life.  It should be great.

Of course, we have to be out of our house on June 30.  Time to panic!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I thought this day may never come

Edit:  Wow, this is a poorly crafted post.  It was a post-yoga post.  My brain was on Ums.  Oh well, they can't all be Pulitzer-worthy.

Remember several weeks ago when Hope decided that she didn't want to be naked ever again without holding onto her bum? That meant in the bath, getting changed, etc.? John and I decided to ignore and and let her get out of the freakish behaviour. Her issue was that she was afraid she would pee in the bath or on the floor.

After forcing her to spend a few minutes naked a couple of days in a row and the realization that the bath is a lot more fun if you have hands free to play with toys, the whole weird thing ended last week. Also, I somehow managed to get her to sit on the toilet.... and actually like it.

The trick was getting her to tell me a story. We're now into Episode 12 or so of the saga of Nana and Tawbewy. (That would be a series of stories about Banana and Strawberry. What? That wasn't obvious?)

A couple of days ago she went even further by asking to sit on the toilet. Yesterday the trend continued. Although nothing came of it.

And then there was today. She peed in the toilet! Twice! Of course, given that her prize is a bit of chocolate or Smarties, she now wants to be on the toilet 24/7 to increase her chances of chocolate consumption.

But hey, I'm not complaining! A diaper-free house is in my grasp!

Monday, April 06, 2009

A little sugar

Last night was our annual meet-up with lots of friends at Palais du Gomme, a Quebec cabane a sucre.  As usual, we ate well, had lots of laughs, caught up with friends and enjoyed watching our offspring run around with each other.  Our only complaint was that the servers were a bit stingy with the pancakes.  All other dishes were quickly refilled however.

I have some photos to share but that will require a bit of doing given that my card reader is in the basement and I'm still in my pyjamas.  Perhaps this afternoon.

Friday, April 03, 2009

What's wrong with the traditional medical system

A few of you have emailed me to ask how I'm feeling.  I haven't mentioned it in a few posts because, frankly, I was boring myself.  But, I'm going to talk about it now.

My symptoms change.  They change and the old ones often don't return, which is good I suppose.  Sometimes they still linger in the background.  Sometimes I even forget about them.  Here is the synopsis of what is going on with my body the last couple of days:

  • pain in my side still there on and off through the day.  Sometimes sharp, sometimes a dull ache.
  • burning in my toes as though I've been out in the cold for a while without good socks or boots.  Very annoying as you can imagine.
  • still tingling and toes in my fingers occasionally
  • strong tingling in my heels occasionally
  • fatigue
  • tired legs, although my muscles haven't lost strength
  • hot face - mostly cheeks - feels burning and warm on and off all day
  • sandpaper tongue - best way to describe it - sometimes accompanied by sore throat
  • congested sinuses - since this all started
  • sore hip and leg muscles but can relieve it with lots of stretching
  • extra-sensitive fingers - when I press on something or pick something up I can feel the pressure of it for about 10 minutes afterwards.  Annoying.
  • some occasional numbness/tingling in the left side of my chin
  • Bathroom issues.  Won't expand.
Obviously, I'm concerned and it is all really weird.  And that leads me to be extremely frustrated with the seeming lack of concern and attention from my family doctor.  For those of you reading from outside of Canada, this is not related in any way to our socialized medical system.  This is related to the fact that traditional medical systems, in Canada and the U.S. and elsewhere, leave patients victims to the whims of their family doctors. 

I can see my family doctor usually with a few hours notice if I have an urgent need.  If, for some reason, I can't see her, I can always see a doctor the same day through the after-hours clinic she is a member of.  Any Canadian can see a family doctor the same day through the plethora of walk-in clinics around and we don't have to lay down a cent to do so.  That's a great thing.

But the problem is with this model of care.  If you're family doctor is slightly incompetent, a little too laid back, perhaps sees too many patients in a day, you are left victim to their whims and inattention.  And that is the situation I find myself in now.  I can't turn elsewhere.  Any walk-in I go to will ask who my family doctor is and that I should see her the next day.  They'll examine me for anything urgent and suggest my family doc order up a few tests.  Problem is that she isn't doing so.

I saw her two weeks ago presenting her with my new symptoms, all of which seemed neurological.  She said that it all seemed odd and she would refer me to a neurologist and order some more blood work (which I did that day).  I went ahead with my pelvic ultrasound although the pain in my side was no longer pelvic (and the ultrasound came back all clear).  I asked her to order me an abdominal ultrasound when I called after my pelvic.

I finally heard yesterday, two weeks after the appointment and three times after I called her office asking about it, that I have an ultrasound.  On May 12.  The ultrasound clinics in Ottawa, for some reason, are over-worked.  In other cities, I know this isn't the case but for some reason, Ottawa has a problem. I'll be calling frequently to find out if they have cancellations.  

Since I saw her two weeks ago, I haven't heard about the neurologist appointment.  As I mentioned, I've called three times.  Her admin assistant told me yesterday that there is a referral letter in my file that has "been started."  She seemed embarrassed and said she'd get back to me.  I haven't heard back from her yet.

You see my issue?  Who else can I turn to?  I happen to know that there is pretty good wait time (about 8 weeks I think) to see a neurologist in Ottawa.  And my family doctor hasn't even finished the letter yet.  

I know she is a single mom with two kids.  But this is her job and she's not doing it well.  If she doesn't have enough time to finish her letters during the day, she should see fewer patients each day.  I imagine I'm not the only patient she has that's frustrated.

All over Canada and the U.S., I know that there are other people like me, frustrated by the way our system is set up, with no one else to turn to, slave to the methods of their family doctor.  

Luckily for me, I have a way to circumvent this system if I wish.  Although I have criticized others who jump the queue, I'm going to be one of those people, most likely.  I have a good friend who is a surgeon in Toronto who said he can get me in with a neurologist friend of his there.  I can stay with him and Deb, my good friend, while I see this doctor and hopefully get an abdominal ultrasound at the same time.  

However, most people don't have a surgeon friend to rely on.  Those people have to sit and stew and get frustrated because their family doctors aren't giving the care that they require.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

She's a gonner

My computer gave up the ghost yesterday.  We, and by we I mean John, had coaxed her back last week by formatting the hard drive (remember my lost files?).  It bought us a few days before I noticed things still weren't right.  And yesterday she wouldn't do anything else for us.  

We're getting a new hard drive this weekend.

And so, I'll only have consistent access in the evenings when John is home.  And usually that time is spent watching some tv or, this week, doing some sewing.  I'm going to make the girls a few sundresses each this year.  I have a good stash of fabric and a pattern for each of them.  Should be fun to get back into making clothes for them, something I haven't done since Emily was a baby.

I'll attempt to post my recipe for today but it may not happen until tomorrow night.