Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

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This is one of my favourite holidays! Not only does it fall during my mostfavouriteseasonEVER….but it’s also one holiday that I find is easy to appreciate without children. I mean…don’t get me wrong. The sting of no children is sharp. I still have to take a moment or two to breath…but for the most part, I can cope with this holiday.

I love to fill my October with Halloween-y things like:

  • Haunted barns (SUPER SCARY)
  • Pumpkin Festivals
  • Pumpkin Carving
  • Decorating
  • Halloween Parties (for grownups)
  • Haunted Villages (Kid-Scary)
  • Costume shopping
  • Halloween baking
  • Trick-or-treating with the Trio (my nephews)

All of these things were a blast this year. I think the boys are finally at an age where they are all cognizant of what’s going on and fully into it – so it makes it that much more fun. Also the two younger boys are thick as thieves these days – and it is hilarious (less for their Mom, but SO FUNNY for their Aunt 😉 ). The 5 year old is really small and …. “spicy” … while the 6 year old is 3x his size and a giddy follower – so there is nothing but trouble with the two of them…and Halloween was no exception. It made it both lively and fun!

Over all it was a really good Halloween. I enjoyed the festivities and kept busy enough to avoid wallowing in my childlessness. 🙂

How was your Halloween? Do you do any special Halloween traditions?

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Family Dynamics – Canadian Thanksgiving

First of all… Happy Thanksgiving fellow Canadians!

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I have a love-hate relationship with Thanksgiving. I love it because I love turkey, and I love to see my nephews together. I hate it because its stressful…and there are always at least a few hurt feelings.

A lot of times it’s me who gets hurt. Not intentionally, but because I am the only person in 45 of us who can’t have kids…and since everyone else got pregnant from sitting beside boys on the school bus back in high school, that’s all they ever want to talk about. They also love to point out how lucky I am. It doesn’t seem to matter what I say/do – they will find a way to tie it back to my childlessness.

Got a pedicure? Oh, we wish we had time for pedicures…but, you know, kids!

I’m exhausted? You think you’re exhausted now, you can’t imagine what it’s like being exhausted with two kids to take care of!

Long work day? Just imagine how WE feel – coming home from a long work day and having to parent our children.

New thing I love? You think you know what love is, but you don’t. Just wait until you have children one day, THEN you will know what love is.

Saw a new movie/show? I wish I had time for TV. All we ever watch is Bubble Guppies and The Wiggles. 

Taking a vacation? It must be SO NICE to have the time, money and energy for vacation. After caring for my children, I have none of that to spend on a frivolous vacation.

You get the idea. I try to make small talk, but almost everything I say is met with comments like that. I think it is, in part, because it’s all they have to talk about. I’m a quiet person, and when I’m upset I get quieter – which makes it easy for people to treat me like shit over and over again. This is something I’m working on…but it is what it is right now.

Of the 45 of us, I am the only one to attend University let alone graduate school. The rest of my cousins all work entry level jobs because they had kids so young. There is NOTHING wrong with that, it’s just not the path I took because … well… having kids didn’t work out for me so I may as well do something else. However, because I DID do it, I think some of them feel insecure about it and so we just never discuss it so no one gets upset.

…but it’s hard when I’m doing my Masters – and LOVING it – and not being able to share about it. Especially when they’re all sharing about the things in their lives, and all I can do is sit quietly.

Anyway … today out our family dinner… my one cousin (who is currently completing a 2 year college diploma in social services) was dishing out counseling advice to anyone who would listen because she took an intro to psych course, and is now an expert.

This is what I’m doing my Masters in – and in the end, I will be a Registered Therapist which is exactly what my program is preparing me for. Meaning, I have slightly more knowledge about the mind and counseling practices than she does. As I always do though, I bit my tongue and let her ramble incorrectly about things for a while and then… well, I think I just snapped.

I don’t remember the exact words I said – but I know they were completely unlike me – and something intended to point out that if anyone could give out counseling advice it’s me, not her, and I wouldn’t do that because this is not a counseling session.

Whatever the exact words were, she looked like I’d slapped her and then said “Wow, that was arrogant” and walked away. As always, I quietly finished my meal and no one else noticed what had happened between us. As soon as I could, I excused myself and left. The entire way home I tossed around the conversation – trying to decide what I was trying to prove and why I felt so shitty about it.

In the end, I realized a couple things.

#1) I am exhausted and need a break. The constant attack on my childlessness is breaking me, and if I can’t stand up to them and say something then I need to give myself some space to sort it out.

#2) I need to find a way to stop being ashamed of my infertility, and a way to be proud of the things I DO have – like an awesome opportunity to get my MA in something I truly love. I need to figure out how to talk about it more – so I can share with others, but also so I can feel valuable, too.

#3) I need to stop allowing other people to treat me like garbage. I do it because I feel like I deserve it since I’m infertile (ya’ll know what I’m talking about). I know that is unhealthy and I need to stop punishing myself for this. I don’t deserve to be treated like I’m nothing because I can’t have a child. Having a child is not everything. I AM something, and I am someone who has accomplished so much, and I have a right to be proud of it.

#4) They talk about children and pregnancies because that’s what they know. They’re proud of it, and they have a right to share about the things they’re proud of too. I can’t and don’t expect them to stop, and I certainly recognize how hard parenting is, and how rewarding parenting is, and how when you’re in the thick of it – it’s everything to you. I get all of that…I just want them to stop making me feel bad so they can feel good. Ultimately, maybe they feel insecure because I do have a career I love, and I make a good income, and I seem happy – so they want to show me they’re happy too? Regardless, I fully recognize there is more to it on their side too. However, that doesn’t make this OK.

So…while I’m not proud of myself for how I shut her down, I am not sorry I did it. Maybe it was enough to emphasize to her that I am done being walked all over, belittled, and used as a stepping stone to make her feel like a better person. I realize that it is ME who needs to change this dynamic, or it will never change. I will begin with making sure they realize that I’m a person. I count…and my feelings and dreams and experiences are important too.

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Blah. Family holidays can be so hard sometimes…we are not yellers or fighters – but my family is a master at snide comments that peck away at your self esteem…and I’m starting to think it might be time to take a little break.

Do you find holidays difficult? How do you cope with difficult family?

Updates – Plugging Away

Yesterday I got an email from WordPress asking me where I’d been…so I figured it might be time for an update!

I am plugging away at grad school and loving every minute of it. It’s so interesting, fun and I cannot wait for it be my full time career. I’m finally getting the hang of balancing my life, work and school, which makes it even more rewarding. 🙂

Mr. Big and I are good. We just finished a week long vacation with my in-laws which was wonderful…but we’re ready to go back to our own space!

I turned 32. I’m not sure where the time went, but here I am. 32. My birthday didn’t go quite as planned…and I really only have myself to blame. Despite the 7 years of infertility, I allowed myself to get all excited over a late period – certain that my birthday combined with the inlaws visit (they live a province away and we rarely see them) meant it was FOR SURE going to be positive. I laughed to myself over the irony how, now when I’m part way through grad school and doing other things, this would finally happen naturally. I refused to POAS until my birthday because HOW FUN to find out we’re FINALLY expecting on my birthday, with the inlaws here in person to celebrate! I was so sure it would FINALLY be positive.

…….yeah, you know where this is going…(probably because you’ve all done this too). Despite my best intentions, I got a big, fat negative. Womp, womp. So then I cried, tore apart the stupid test into tiny pieces and then spent the rest of the day trying to shake the cloud that was hanging over me. The worst part is, I know I did this to myself. I got excited, I assumed (with absolutely no reason to assume since I know pregnancy is almost impossible without IVF for me)…and I let myself dream. Sigh. When is infertility going to get easier?

So that’s really it. I’m plugging away at school, getting older, loving Mr. Big and trying to remain sane despite the always present “what if it’s THIS month?” of IF. I’m still reading…every chance I get I check your blogs and see whats happening even if I’m not writing. 🙂

I’ve outgrown Harry Potter

It’s a sad day today…I mean…sad as in first-world-problems kind of sad day…

You see, today I realized that I’ve outgrown Harry Potter. Or, rather, MY use of Harry Potter as a safe place (because no one can really outgrow HP…<3).

When I first discovered HP…it was at a particularly challenging part of my life. I sought refuge in those pages, and I remember praying at night that I would wake up the next morning in HP’s world. I readily devoured each book … and painfully awaited the final three to be released. I cried when I was done reading them, and then re-read them more times than I am willing to admit over the next 10 years…

They *literally* got me through high school and my undergrad. My world was cruel and unforgiving, and I sought solace and comfort in those pages (and movies). I carried this coping skill right into my marriage and through our battle with infertility. I escaped from my world into Harry Potter’s – more times than I could ever count.

A lot has happened this last year. Some good, some bad. Through that time I have developed a lot of really healthy coping skills… playing violin (my one skill from before), learning the guitar, breathing exercises, meditating, exercise, healthy eating, talking, journalling… I do these things daily – whether I’m good or not – to maintain wellness.

Then, yesterday, they were playing an HP marathon so I turned it on and I felt joy, happiness, humour and love….but that was it. No comfort. No solace. Just enjoyment.

And it dawned on me – somehow, somewhere, my soul has healed and grown enough that I actually no longer need to escape into Harry Potter. It happened so quickly, so subtlety, that I didn’t even notice it happening. It just happened.

It’s amazing. The mind is a truly amazing thing, and it’s ability to heal to develop new neural pathways is incredible.

I mean – I still LOVE Harry Potter. Watching the movies or re-reading the books is like slipping into my favourite jammies…and it feels like home. But it’s not the lifeblood it was before – I don’t need it to survive.

I am finally at a place where I can choose to watch it – not because I need it – but because I enjoy it.

Do you have a movie/book/place that you seek solace in? Have you ever outgrown a comfort?

Money. Life Update. Growing.

One of the biggest lessons Mr. Big and I have learned about our marriage is that we need to live more. Take the trips, buy the things, go to the places, spend the money. I am super frugal…and have never allowed us to buy or do anything. While Mr. Big did not blame me… I knew it was my fault. I am the one who controls the money, and I am the one who says no every time he suggests a vacation or activity.

I feel good when I work hard and see my bank account growing. Mr. Big feels good when he works hard and has something fun to do after work. This was a hard compromise for us…because I get anxious about not having enough saved up…but I also knew it was important to Mr. Big’s health to be able to spend a little of the money he works so hard to earn.

Our counselor challenged us to come up with big things we wanted and make a list. My list consisted of things like my Masters Degree, having a percentage of income in savings and a hobby farm. Mr. Big’s list included outdoor recreational toys and a vacation. We each came up with 5 big things, and then sat down and decided what we could/would do…the key was that it needed to benefit both of us.

What I realized in this process was that Mr. Big didn’t want to spend every penny we made…he just wanted to buy things that we would use together and have fun using. So I agreed it was time to purchase some of these things.

We started with a set of old but working skidoos. Mr. Big was considerate enough to keep them relatively inexpensive, and I surprised him with expensive and cool helmets like I knew he was eyeing up. We had so much fun on them this past winter, and are already looking forward to next year.

Next came a vacation to Las Vegas…one of our bucket list locations. We stayed in an almost-off-the-strip hotel to save costs (for my anxiety), but still we were on vacation in Vegas (for Mr. Big). And I have to be honest, it was the best time we’ve ever had. He was absolutely right on this – we need to take the trips.

Mr. Big began talking about my Masters, even though it was one item we didn’t think we could afford. He encouraged me to apply, so I did to appease him…expecting to be rejected. I wasn’t though – and now I am two semesters in and loving every second. I am SO GLAD we did it anyway, found the money…I have never been so sure about anything as I am about this career.

All three of these things were Mr. Big’s ideas, and he was careful to be considerate of my need to be frugal…and all three items have worked out to be better for us than I could have ever imagined. We are so much happier and healthier now than we were this time last year – I am almost thankful for the shitty thing that happened last fall. It has truly brought so much good.

So when Mr. Big and I were struggling to find something fun to do this summer, and the notion of a boat kept coming up I jumped on it. We could afford it, and it would be something fun that we can use over and over. I found us this amazing old boat, a bow rider that seats 10 people (so, pretty big for a bow rider) in excellent condition. Mr. Big and the seller negotiated a more-than-reasonable price, and we bought it last week. Since then, we’ve been in it more than we haven’t. It was worth every penny!

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(See the vinyl back rests there ^ ? That’s the ONLY thing that needs replacing. WOOT!)

We’re constantly looking at this:

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While doing some of this:

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And catching some of this:

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We’re also getting a whole lot of relaxing in, combined with sunshine, a nice breeze and a ton of fun. It is so what we needed, and I don’t regret the expense – not one bit.

Over all … these expenses have given us so much joy. I am kicking myself for waiting this long to finally spend the money I’ve been sitting on. It doesn’t mean we spend it ALL…just enough to enjoy our lives while still being fiscally responsible. This compromise has made all the difference in our overall happiness (we have way more fun!)…and I am so glad we did it. We’ve been together 10 years, and yet…I still feel like we have so much more to learn – about each other, and marriage as a whole. 🙂

What do you do, that you need to do more or less of? Can you relate to balancing “spend-every-penny” with “save-every-penny”?

The Tumbling Turner Sisters – Book Review

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  1. If you had to summarize the novel in one sentence, what would it be?
    • Sisters, searching for love, belonging and survival explore the exotic world of 1920s Vaudeville.
  2. Did it make you think about the topic in a new way? Explain.
    • I know racism still exists. I know the horrible things that were and still are done to people because of their skin colour. It’s disgusting that it still exists, and I wish there were a way to make it all disappear…the only thing I know to do is to fight racism every change I get and raise children who also fight racism. There are so many horrible things I’ve learned about through my reading and through school – but there were still some things in this book that surprised and horrified me. We really have come far in the last 100 years…but we still have so, SO far to go. There is just so much hate still in the world.
  3. Where the characters well developed? Who was your favourite character and why?
    • I thought the characters were well developed – I did feel like they had us learn to love too many that became disposable, but at the same time that was the POINT. In Vaudeville, nothing is a guarantee.
    • While I’m tempted to say that Gert was my favourite because she was fierce, loyal, confident and knew what she wanted…I think Nell was truly my favourite. She was sound, sturdy and accepting – even when her sisters slipped into socially taboo relationships. She was a gentle force helping to guide her family and because of that, found her happy ending despite a very sad beginning.
  4. Were you happy with the ending?
    • I did like the way the book ended – I thought it provided enough resolution to keep me from wondering, but not enough to leave me thirsty.
  5. Would you recommend this book? Why?
    • I rated it a 7 out of 10 because I did enjoy the book, it’s characters, and the plot. It wasn’t particularly riveting, but it was enjoyable and I would recommend it as a light read.

Family Dynamics – They’re Totally Using Me

*Whiny post warning! You’ve been warned! Please be kind in your comments!

I just completed my first term of my Masters degree – yay me! I really enjoyed it! It was much easier than I thought to adjust to, and it was challenging in all the good ways.

I’m really proud of myself for accomplishing this much. I have a wonderfully supportive group of friends, my hubby and my one sister… and they’ve really helped me adjust. As for the rest of my family – they are mostly unsupportive.

To be frank – they think I’m wasting valuable baby-making time. Sure, they know I’m infertile but they don’t get it. The going age for a first baby in my family is 16 – and never after marriage, always before. Procreating is everything to them, and I am less than because I don’t have children (for real, I actually have to sit at the kid table at 31 years old while my 18 year old cousins with children get to sit at the adult table…every.single.year). They think I’m just not trying hard enough and it can be heart breaking to be around them so I only go to a few things a year even though they get together monthly.

Education, in particular, is a big barrier to having children to them, so they can’t understand why anyone would want it. That probably explains why I’m the only one of 50+ kids in my generation to go to University, let alone grad school.

My entire life it’s been making small talk, realizing we can’t relate, and then me sneaking off into a corner to read until the family event was over. Sure, I could have forced a relationship by finding things to talk about but I’m not sure I wanted too…they were all so clearly alike and I was just not.

So now that I’m doing my Masters…the news has spread and I anticipated inappropriate comments last weekend at our summer picnic. I was all ready for them – usually they’re about my lack of children and I was actually kind of looking forward to them being about school this time.

But they didn’t come. People were approaching me, asking me all kinds of questions and seemed genuinely interested in what I’m learning. I was thrilled at first…but then I noticed a common theme, they kept asking me about their own personal situations. What they should do, how they should handle it, where they should go, do I know any tricks to help, etc. etc. Really quickly I realized they were looking for counselling.

One particularly tactful cousin who has never even acknowledged my existence before spent 15 minutes asking about her Autistic son and then flat out told me: “I’m so glad we have a Therapist in the family now, I will save a TON of money!”.

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Silly me, I thought they finally realized even though I don’t have kids – I am STILL a valuable human being who has thoughts and experiences. But I was completely wrong…they just want to freeload off my new set of skills.

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The whole thing really pisses me off. First of all…it’s not ethical to treat family members. Secondly…my entire 31 years they’ve all ignored me because I’m quiet…and now, suddenly, we’re BFFs because I have a set of skills you think you can use? And lastly – I’ve finished ONE SEMESTER. ONE. That isn’t enough to counsel anyone, let alone the complicated situations they’re all in!

MAN…people can really be jerks sometimes!

 

#MicroblogMondays – Alias Grace

Alias Grace is a high school staple here in Canada. It was my favourite of the high school “forced-to-read” books…so I was thrilled to see there was a 6 part TV special on ne.tflix.

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Did you watch the special/ read the book? If you didn’t, you should. The TV special was excellent – true to the story, and the cast was very well selected.

I think what I love most about this story is that it’s a real life mystery – Grace was a real girl, truly convicted of murdering two people at just 15 years old, and spent 30 years in the Kingston Penitentiary for it (I’ve been there, it’s so interesting and eerie to see her cell). She had a slew of supporters who were convinced of her innocence, and just as many convinced of her guilt. She was reported to appear to innocent, gentle and well behaved – yet her story had a lot of holes and question marks. She also reported blacking out many times, which leads you to wonder how sane she really was. This could all be a detailed story weaved by a sociopath…or a story told by a child too young to understand. The masses seem completely divided.

After 30 years in prison, she was pardoned and released. She disappeared into New York and that’s where the trail ends. She would have been around 45 years old.

So what do you think…guilty, not-guilty, insane or partially guilty but too young to understand the consequences / coerced by her co-murderer?

Click to learn more.

Faith

(I won’t post about Faith a lot…it’s a deeply personal topic, but every once and while I like to share about my journey here)

In November of 2017 I found myself at a church that would save my life. It is a church that believes not in religion, but in having Faith.

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First, let’s rewind. I was not raised in a religious home. Religion or God was more of a broad topic that I didn’t know much about – like a foreign language. My family didn’t talk about God or mention God. I was unsure what I believed – but I knew that if I was going to be a believer, it had to be in a congregation that believed in loving others (regardless of their sexuality), respecting others and helping others. So far I had yet to hear of a congregation that met that criteria.

Then all that shit (because there is no better word for it) happened last October. In one fell swoop everything I knew was different. My reality changed and I was broken, lost and aching. Nothing seemed to help – there was no one I could turn to and nothing that would soothe the deep ache in my soul. The only thing I could think of was God…maybe God could help me. So I started going to churches – but over and over again I felt out of place and uncomfortable at them – and knew I wouldn’t return.

But then, I found one that stuck. From the first time I walked into the building, I felt calm. Like the building was giving me a warm hug. Even though I sat in my pew the first few times and cried quietly, no one demanded an explanation. Instead they patted my shoulder, hugged me or brought me coffee…me, a complete stranger that they had no reason to be kind to.

That’s how I knew it was the right church for me.

Every single person is welcomed and loved there – regardless of whether they are married, divorced, single, struggling, happy, poor, rich, thin, fat, gay, straight, black, white, beige, man, woman, trans or Buddhist (we actually have one Buddhist who comes). My congregation is made up of a lot of the people cast out of traditional churches who are looking for guidance on how to love God, themselves and others – which makes it a really beautiful, uplifting place to be.

I am so glad I found it. I am so much stronger, more kind, more loving and more brave than I was last year. I credit so much of my growth to this beautiful place where it is OK to question, to challenge, to search and it is always OK to not be OK.

It’s all about love. Loving God, loving yourself, loving one another. Love, Love, Love…and that’s something I can definitely get behind!

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Do you have a Faith? I would love to hear all about yours! Faith of any kind is a really beautiful, fulfilling thing.

Fertility Update

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Ahh…fertility is never far from the mind of the infertile, is it?

My plate is full right now with my Masters and two jobs. However…I’ve been on this infertility journey for 7 long years and will take a healthy pregnancy over practically any thing else. So, needless to say, no matter how badly I want my MA – I will gladly take a break to have a baby…all day long!

I have some promising changes in my fertility which I think are from a number of things: 1) getting my hypothyroidism under control, 2) giving in a buying a CPAP so I can actually sleep at night (sexy, I KNOW! But you guys, it’s AMAZING and has made ALL THE DIFFERENCE), 3) Killing it with taking my vitamins every single day, 4) Walking my ass off. No…for real…my butt is like half the size it was.

As a result of these I’ve had some pretty huge changes for a girl with PCOS:

  1. My periods are now, consistently, 28-32 days long. I have only had one period that was longer than that since January – that’s 7 months!
  2. My periods are normal (for bleeding)
  3. Around CD 26 I get sore breasts and moody and with my period comes mild cramping and headaches.
  4. Sore breasts consistently around CD15- CD18. OPKs confirm ovulation (WOOT WOOT) all on my own.

I know it’s ridiculous to think I am celebrating the onset of cramps, tender breasts and mood swings….but when you’re 31, with PCOS, and you experience NORMAL period symptoms – well hell, that’s fuel for a party in the very least!

I’m going on 7 months of this and I am beyond thrilled about it. My hope is that this leads to what we all want…a natural, healthy pregnancy.

In the mean time, I’m going to continue working on my school, my job, and keeping healthy so that – when it does finally happen – I’m as ready as I can be.

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