Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pre and Post Surgery - April 2008

Rewind to April . . . It seems like so long ago now, but as I was reviewing pictures the other night, I found this photo session from the day before Gavin's surgery. As you can imagine, I was a complete disaster. I probably took over 100 pictures of his sweet little crooked feet . . . and couldn't imagine what they would look like "straight." I spent the day admiring his perfect baby soft skin, playing Little Piggy and massaging them - even though he couldn't feel my touch. I was completely overwhelmed and wanted to capture them as they were - without the scars that would mark his feet and legs forever.

It's just a little easier now to see these pictures as his feet have since healed and look much better. The scars have been likened to "zippers" up the back of his legs. And, they are still far worse than I had originally imagined. These are the first pictures after his casts were finally removed after 8 weeks.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Best Birthday Ever . . .

Finally! A fantastic birthday. I don't think I've had one of those since my 21st (oh what fond memories . . . or at least the part that I can remember). Anyway . . .

I actually kind of forgot about my birthday until Jeff suggested I take the day off. It coordinated perfectly with our need to drive to Buffalo to pick up Jeff's truck that was finally shipped. Imagine my confusion and surprise when he woke me up at 5:30 in the morning on my birthday. He was crouching beside the bed and his cute and obviously excited face was right next to mine. In my confusion, I initially assumed he had some dirty thoughts (sorry, Mom). But, he explained that we needed to get up right away and go get my present. I was still completely in a fog (I am NOT a morning person) . . . so, he finally explained that my birthday present was Becky and that she was waiting for us to pick her up at the Buffalo Airport! It was such a brilliant birthday and perfectly executed by Becky and Jeff. I had absolutely no idea whatsoever.

One of the greatest things about having Becky come to Canada is that now she has a visual sense (that pictures can't convey) of where we live, our neighborhood, our grocery store, our church, the diversity, the city, etc. And, I think it brings us even closer when we talk. I wish everyone could have that. Although, I shed more than one tear when she walked through security at the airport . . . it was really crazy to realize that we will be living here for a few YEARS . . . I am so happy that she spent the weekend with us.

And, Jeff had another trick up his sleeve. Not only did we shop a bit on Friday (and yes - I finally bought another US phone to replace the Blackberry that Gavin dropped and broke on the day we left for Canada), but we spent some time at Niagara Falls, and ate at the Cheesecake Factory . . . but, he made reservations for us at the top of the CN Tower (the world's tallest building) at the revolving 360 Restaurant on Saturday night. Other than the first five minutes or so, when Becky and I both (who share a tendency for motion sickness) came to grips with the fast-moving elevator and moving floor, it was phenomenal. The pictures don't do it justice.

So, happy birthday to me. And, the biggest thank you to my incredible husband who never ceases to amaze me. And, to Becky (and her family for giving her up for a weekend) for making it so special.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Cooking Failures

Something is happening to me . . . and it's not good. I am rapidly losing my skills in the kitchen. I've never claimed to be a master chef. But, I am creative and have consistently put good, (mostly) healthy meals on the table for years for my family. Witness the downward spiral . . .

Disaster #1: During our first trip to a Canadian grocery store we were confused and overwhelmed. We wondered why the yogurt was so expensive - and didn't realize until our next trip that we had shopped in the Kosher section. It was also an honest mistake when we bought "Low Fat Old Cheddar." I didn't see the "low fat" part but assume "old cheddar" indicated a sharp cheese (my personal favorite). So, when I tried to make a cheese-based soup a few days later . . . I was very confused when the cheese didn't melt as I was expecting. Instead it formed hard globs of a glue-like consistency. Both Autumn and Jeff tried sawing at the globs with their spoons . . . bless their little hearts . . . before I gave them full permission to dump the bowls into the trash (or, in what was our pre-garbage disposal period, into the sink-side organic waste bin).

Disaster #2: Believe it or not, I attempted soup again - albeit a different recipe. This one was not entirely my fault . . . I did make the mistake of adding flour directly to the soup for thickening (idiotic, I know . . . Mom you taught me much better!) So, despite the little hard nuggets of floating flour globs, it was going to be an edible meal . . . until Autumn had a meltdown and I spent a little too long in her bedroom 'talking it out.' Burnt soup. Definitely not edible.

Disaster #3: Even when I try new recipes . . . they never turn out this bad. How hard could Sweet and Sour Chicken be, you say? Apparently too difficult for me. It took so long to prepare that I didn't even waste time adding vegetables. The runny sauce tasted like rice vinegar (nothing sweet, nothing sour) and the rice (always perfect in my pressure cooker) was a soupy mess. I actually attempted to strain both the rice and the sauce. Yes, gross.

Disaster #4: Fajita night. I had cut the chicken ahead of time and we had fresh onions, portabello mushrooms and red peppers ready to go. Things were going well and the chicken and vegetables were perfectly grilled . . . until I dumped the McCormick Fajita dry mix packet into the pan. I've used it before and it was fabulous. As I was dumping it in, I immediately knew something was wrong. I tried to dismiss the idea that the entire meal now smelled like detergent. I even tried to choke down a piece of chicken while thinking happy fajita thoughts. And, before I dumped the entire meal down the garbage disposal (yea!) . . . I had Jeff try a bite and confirm my fears. Yes. Detergent. Possibly poison. Maybe worse.

So, that's it. I'm at a cross-roads. I can put back on the apron or settle for breakfast food every night (Jeff's specialty). If I make a few more meals like these . . . my family might make the choice for me.

And . . . as a sidenote . . . I opened the second McCormick Fajita packet in our pantry (both purchased in Heber) and confirmed the same detergent smell. Jeff did call McCormick and they are sending us some free coupons.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Quit Whining and Get On With It!!

Okay . . . I didn’t drop off the face of the earth . . . just was dropped into a different country. I’ve said it a million times . . . but, I have been a bit preoccupied. I’ll do my best to fill in the gaps. But, I’m sure all of my fellow American comrades have some questions about our new adventure in Canada . . . and, I don’t want to disappoint.

I’m sure in two years, if I were to look back on this entry, that I’ll have a much different perspective. But, here are my initial egocentric American views of our new home:

1. The milk here comes in bags - not plastic gallon jugs. Three separate smaller sealed bags are housed within a larger bag that equals 4 liters (roughly a gallon for my metrically-challenged friends). I never even contemplated using the standard milk pitchers that are sold everywhere (since they don’t have a lid). Our Pampered Chef pitcher has come in handy. And, to be honest, the milk is incredibly fresh and has less of a weird taste than what we were drinking before. So, rest assured . . . for all of my many friends who know how weird I am about milk . . . this one has a happy ending. And, hopefully soon I’ll get better about pouring from the bag into the pitcher so I spill less.

2. Recycling is a law. Yeaa for Canada!! Booo for not having a garbage disposal. Let me explain. You can’t scrape your food scraps into your trash can – because your biggest trash can is for recycling. And, you are only allowed one small green bin each week for trash (that is slightly bigger than an under the sink trash can). So, your food is scraped into a small pail (with lid) that sits beside your sink. You take that small bag out and place it into the green bin each day . . . which has festering, rotting, stinking food sitting in it smoldering in the sun until the trash is picked up the next week. Yep. Gross. Jeff and I have already purchased and installed our own garbage disposal.

3. Costs are higher. Chicken is between $8 and $9/pound. Gas is around $5.12/gallon. Milk is about $5.49/gallon. There were no $50 or less cheap dressers that we were expecting to buy to replace the ones we left behind. Even WalMart’s cheapest option was $170. And, cell phones are ridiculous. It’s hard to even describe how dramatically different the prices and features are. Thank goodness Autumn hadn’t watched TV in over a week when we went into the cell phone store . . . because we were there for a LONG time and she was (thankfully for once) completely mesmerized by the tube.

4. We ride a movator (it’s like the moving surfaces at aiports – but, it’s on an incline) to get our cart up to and down from the grocery store (and we park in a parking deck). Autumn loves it. It combines “magic stairs” (aka an escalator) with shopping. She couldn’t be happier. And, to be honest, I think it is totally cool, too.

5. I am breaking out like a teenager. I’m honestly less stressed now than I’ve been for months preceding the move. So, I blame it on the new climate. It’s also A LOT more humid. So, I asked Jeff if he liked the most recent way I had attempted to tame my wavy/curly/frizzy hair . . . and, my sweet husband said that he hadn’t been able to look past the enormous zit on my forehead to even see it. Nice. Unfortunately, I don’t blame him. I should post a picture of it. I may have to see a doctor.

6. Selection is different at the grocery store. There are no blueberry muffin mixes with the can of real blueberries inside (I like these once a weekend with a big berry/lime smoothie for breakfast). Bacon has a different texture no matter how long you cook it . . . and I still haven't seen our idea of "Canadian bacon" here which was a regular topping on our homemade pizzas back home. They don't sell Jimmy Dean ground sausage (a Jeff must-have) . . . or any sausage that is not in links. Ritz crackers come in a half-size box. Oreos taste different. Now that you're thinking the Peterson family only eats junk food . . . maybe it's a good thing that we cut these out of our diet!

Okay . . . and so I don’t sound like we don’t like it here . . . or that I really AM a snobby, egocentric American . . . here’s what is fabulous about things here:

1. The diversity is so refreshing. I was very nervous that we would be the only ones speaking English . . . but, we haven’t hit one single language barrier yet. I love the multi-culture population here. And, people are so nice and friendly. Ironically, I have seen only one person do a double take on Gavin’s casts here . . . not so in Utah . . . especially the Utah moms. Seriously . . . I’d prefer you to ask than stop and stare.

2. Chocolate is divine. It is different. It’s the more “European” chocolate . . . and it is goooo-ooood.

3. We’ll learn the metric system. Right now we have to use the conversion feature on our cell phones to equate what we are paying now to what we were paying before (although based on prices, I think it’s better not to know). But, soon enough I’ll know what temperature to expect when they say 30 degrees Celsius.

4. Hopefully we’ll also pick up on some French. Everything is bilingual . . . every box, every sign, and every announcement. It works here.

5. They have Costco stores. Anyone who knows me knows this is critical. And, they sell Hellmann’s Light mayonnaise in a big container at Costco. It’s THE only mayo to buy . . . and critical since I like to make my own Ranch.

6. Things are sweeter here. Heinz ketchup (THE only ketchup in the Peterson household) is sweeter here. Same delicious texture . . . just sweeter. It’s an interesting, but nice, change.

7. Most importantly . . . Jeff and the kids are happy. He is absolutely amazing as a stay-at-home dad. I know we’re only a month in . . . but, even I, who have always thought Jeff was about the most amazing daddy around, have been pleasantly surprised by his patience and laid-back attitude . . . even when I left them for a week to go to England for work. He’s taken the kids to the zoo, the beach (sandy area along the lake – but “unswimmable” unfortunately), swim lessons, the park . . . he works on letters with Autumn, reads books constantly, makes crafts . . . he’s amazing. I will live vicariously through him. If it can’t be me at home with the kids . . . we are all so blessed that it is daddy.

8. There is a division for me between work and home that I haven’t had in years. I go to work early (Jeff would still like it to be earlier – but, we’re getting there) and come home at a decent hour . . . and don’t even bring my computer. I just come home and am a mom and wife – and I try to make every minute count. Now if I could only learn to turn that cursed Blackberry off!

As for work . . . I am starting to wear high heels on a regular basis. I am getting really good at maneuvering my Explorer in an underground parking garage and fitting into really tight spaces. I take an elevator to the 15th floor for work each day. I ride the subway . . . and, it’s great. I’ve had business lunches, business cocktails and business dessert at nice restaurants around town . . . I’m trying to relearn how to eat in front of other adults.

As for our house . . . it’s definitely in a nice neighborhood (which you really realize once you drive into other neighborhoods). No kids on the street. None. But, our house is completely renovated and very nice. The two rooms downstairs are HUGE. And, we brought the spare King-sized mattress. So, the doors are open to visitors anytime!!

Unfortunately, there is so little storage that we have spent a lot of time and money buying containers and armoires and cabinets . . . anyone that saw our truck before we left Utah would know these are not discretionary purchase . . . but absolutely necessary. Jeff has reminded me again that it was a brilliant decision on his part to move ourselves so that we have plenty of moving money leftover to purchase things. we want/need for the house . . . instead of trying to do without. I knew he was right all along . . . but, I was still a pretty disgruntled worker while packing!

There’s so much more . . . so, congratulations to those of you who made it to the bottom. I will post more soon . . . I promise . . . really.