Why I took the ALS Challenge

This afternoon I was checking facebook, and BLAM, there it was. A challenge to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket challenge from my sorta-kinda-sister in law/sister from another mister, Katie. I am sure everyone out there has heard of the challenge, but I will briefly explain just in case you’ve been away from the internet for the last couple weeks.

Basically, you get challenged by someone to participate. That means you have 24 hours to do so. Participation means either donating $100 to the cause, or pouring a bucket of ice water over your head. Most people, especially celebrities, have been doing both (dumping a bucket on their head and donating). The challenge has been HUGELY successful and has been raising millions of dollars for the cause as well as awareness about the disease.

Like with anything that garners that much attention, there has been some who speak against it. They have been saying that it’s just an attention seeking ridiculous act of slacktivism, it is a waste of fresh drinking water, it is a distraction from bigger problems (world issues, other diseases, etc…etc…). I have felt slightly torn on the subject (as I tend to me. I am a gemini through and through, I have no problem seeing both sides and often have a hard time cementing my own feelings on a subject).

This is my reaction: Is dumping a bucket of water on your head really that harmful? Is it that different from marathons or other fundraisers? I have participated in runs, walks, dinners, fundraisers, you name it. I worked in fundraising for both the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario as well as the Cancer Society. If anything, I think it’s absolutely brilliant that this has taken off the way it has. That it has people talking. Yes, there are lots of causes out there, lots of places you can put your money. Lots of things you can do. So, if this one doesn’t tickle your fancy, don’t participate. It is that easy.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease. People living with the disease become progressively paralyzed due to degeneration of the upper and lower motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Eighty per cent of people with ALS die within two to five years of diagnosis– unable to breathe or swallow. Ten per cent of those affected may live for 10 years or longer.

 

Other neurodegenerative diseases include Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. According to the World Health Organization, neurodegenerative diseases are predicted to surpass cancer as the second leading cause of death in Canada by 2040.

ALS has no known cure or effective treatment yet. For every person diagnosed with ALS, a person living with ALS dies. Approximately 2,500 – 3,000 Canadians currently live with this fatal disease.

-From “What is ALS?”, ALS Canada website.

 

Why I am taking the challenge

When I was working at the little fabrication shop in my early 20s, I met this fantastic guy who worked in the shop. He was in his early 30s, had been married for a couple of years and was super sweet. I always looked forward to interacting with him because he was one of the few guys in the shop who not only treated me with respect, but was sweet and funny. He came into work one day, absolutely beaming. I asked him what was up, and he announced he was expecting his first child. When the baby was born, he brought the baby in so that I could meet him. While his wife was pregnant, he started having issues in the shop. He was a machinist, he worked detailed work with his hands. His left hand was giving him issues. He was experiencing weakness and shaking. Time passed and it slowly got worse until he couldn’t ignore it anymore. He had a newborn baby at this point. He knew he couldn’t afford to lose his job because of some stupid hand thing.

I remember the day he had his appointment with the doctor. Everything seemed to happen so fast. It with ALS. Within a month, the paralysis had spread all along his left side. He had to leave work. We got updates for a while, and a few of the guys ran a fundraiser for the family, but then we stopped hearing how he was doing. ALS was so incredibly swift in this case.

Fast forward a few years. My Mom had this best friend, a woman named Karin. Karin met and married this amazing guy, named Scott. He reminded me SO MUCH of my Dad. My parents got along extremely well with Karin and Scott. When my Dad died, Karin and Scott really grew close to my Mom. They went “camping” together in their decked out trailers at the fancy trailer park. In fact, it was Karin who knew before anyone that my Mom was dying. It was Karin who told me to bring Mom to the hospital and, eventually, to call family to come down. Karin and Scott were there, in the room with me, when Mom passed. Karin helped me with the arrangements and supported me, initially, through the horrible family stuff that happened with the estate. Unfortunately, she just couldn’t understand my unwillingness to keep my Dad’s kids in my life. She remains in contact with them, today. I haven’t seen her since my wedding day. Both she and Scott were there.

Around the time I was married, Scott started having serious back and neck issues. He was a guard with the Commissionaires in downtown Ottawa, It was having a major impact on his job and he could no longer ignore the issues it was causing in his life. It took his doctor a while to figure it out, because of where and how the symptoms were presenting. They were so sure it was severe and sudden arthritis…it was ALS. I didn’t find out until after Karin and I had stopped speaking, but I did reach out to her. I followed their story on facebook as much as I could. In October of 2011, Scott passed away and I was absolutely heart broken.

I watched as ALS took two wonderful men from families and friends who loved them, and depended on them. I saw how quickly it took their bodies from them.

If there is anything, big or small, that I can do to help raise awareness and a bit of money to help other ALS families, you bet I’m going to do it. So, here I am. I am taking the challenge.

I challenge my co-workers at Belly Laughs and the girls at LoveCraft Gallery.

 

Taking Steps

It’s been a hard week. The news is heart breaking, with no end in sight. Police states in small town USA, Gaza, Robin Williams (a man who reminded me so much of my father and my half brother, who was a major part of my childhood. His movies were celebrated in our home.), ebola, you name it. Liam has been sick on and off as well, and I weighed in at my heaviest weight thus far in my life, excluding when I was 9 months pregnant. I have decided to do something about this heaviness in my heart (and on my bones), by focusing on the good in my life, trying to stay productive in prepping our home for sale and by attempting to make small changes to be healthy again.

I am back to calorie counting (I’m on myfitnesspal here for those who want to add me) and I am back to wearing my fitbit. Small changes, but every little bit helps, right? I’ve been able to keep a pretty positive outlook, so it seems to be working, at least a bit.

Today, Liam demanded a walk so off we went to explore the neighbourhood. The trees are starting to change colour, drop seeds and acorns, and the wind was blowing it all around us. We talked about the seasons, about the life of a tree and how the wind helps. We ran, laughs and played. The walk around the neighbourhood took us two hours as we explored. A few minutes in to our adventure, we found ourselves walking down a busy residential street towards one of the two main roads in our suburb. We were walking when a dudebro driving a minivan stopped at a stop sign across the street and decided to take the opportunity to fat shame me. He cackled and yelled as he drove away.

I stood there stunned, and poor Liam was so confused. I thought about what I should do in that moment. I looked down at myself. I was wearing my favourite pair of skinny jeans and an oversized cute sweater. I wasn’t wearing any makeup and my crazy hair was hidden away until my hat. I felt cute, damn it. My son, watching me, needed to hear something from me about what just happened. So, we kept walking while I talked to him about beauty, bullying and how what just happened said a lot more about the young man driving the van than it did about us. Liam is 2, so I don’t know how much of this he really got, but he seemed content with what I had said and kept on his way until we found a fat little caterpillar trying to cross the sidewalk, and then that took all of his attention.

I’m more ok than I thought I would be. There is a lot swirling around my head right now, but I think I’m in a good headspace. I’m not even upset. If anything, I’m sad that this sort of this seems to keep happening the second we leave our cozy little street. It seems like another push for us to get out of this part of town.

When Liam and I finally made it back home, we looked at our bounty of leaves, seeds, acorns, branches and even a birds nest. We touched them and talked and eventually went inside for lunch. It was a good day for learning, with unexpected lessons.

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So hard…

So, it’s probably pretty clear that I am pretty AP in my parenting style. My kid is 27 months old, and I still nurse, still toddler-wear, still co-sleep and still practice “wait it out”.

Well, I did. This week our sleep situation came to a head. Liam has been having a major sleep regression and I have been having a really hard time with it. I have been back to sleeping in his room, nursing 3+ times a nights, spending hours getting him settled, feeling abandoned to my parenting decisions. Last night, after hours of struggling with him, Pat took over and we made a change. We are night weaning and Pat is taking over nights with a Nanny 911ish technique (staying close by, reminding Liam we love him, putting him back to bed until he finally stays, sitting either in a chair in the room or in the hall outside the room)

As you can imagine, Liam is not pleased. He has some pretty big feelings, and I get that. My mama bear is FREAKING OUT hearing him cry and yell. I know this all seems ridiculous to many of you. I know people who sleep train their newborns. That’s your prerogative. I didn’t want to and I still don’t. I know this is what we need right now, but Gods it hurts. It feels like Crying it Out. It isn’t, I know that….but I hurt so much hearing him cry. Ugh. On top of that, I am hurting for the end of an era. My boobies will no longer put this kid to sleep, at least not at night. What we have been doing, is no longer what we will be doing. My little boy isn’t a baby anymore. Soon, we will be able to tuck him into bed, say goodnight and leaving him to fall asleep on his own. Soon, I will be sleeping the whole night, in my own bed.

They grow up too quickly. Way too quickly.

So many sleeps, cuddled up to this boy

So many sleeps, cuddled up to this boy

Overwhelmed

I am having one of those weeks where I am so overwhelmed by the events of the world that I don’t know what to say about any of it. My heart is broken and I am scared for the world, really.

Life continues on here. I am still decluttering and packing. I’m not sure that we, as a family, have for sure decided to move, but I have decided, as an individual, to take the leap and start prepping for it anyway. I have a storage unit that arrived yesterday, and we have a short list of houses left to see. We have two contenders at the moment, so we are close. Once we have decided on the house we want, we will list ours. I am absolutely dreading the showing process, but it’s a necessary evil in this process. For those looking to snag some free stuff, I will be posting a lot of the stuff I am hoping to get rid of on facebook. Add me! :D Local pick up only, please. Ain’t nobody got time for the post office.

In an attempt to get past all the crazy in the world right now, I want to focus on the things that make me smile. Here are some of my current favourite things:

 

For the Home:

One of my fave things in the world right now is the Buy Nothing movement. Inspired by the various Freecycle communities online, the Buy Nothing groups are neighbourhood specific. Ours in Barrhaven is super busy and has some great items and services. This is where I am posting the majority of my stuff. I have also snagged some amazing items here for us. So, if you want to find some great used items for your home, while being frugal, or you need a place to declutter, check to see if there is a Buy Nothing group near you.

For my Kid:

Liam recently received a Tricycle from a neighbour and has been practically attached to the thing. To keep my kiddo safe and to practice safe bicycle riding, I insist on him wearing a helmet. Good habits are awesome when they start young. We especially love this great Nutcase helmet we got him:

For my ears:

I’ve been really digging this Hey Rosetta! song, “Welcome”, about the birth of a child.

And my tune for the summer has for sure been Kongos, Come with me now.

And my latest obsession is July Talk. They are just so cute.

And with that, I am off. I will try to post more “Stuff I love” posts as I have plenty of those things that I adore. Cheers!

 

Decluttering, again.

I am sure that there is a symbol of our crazy lives in all of this,  but I am sitting here amazed that despite all the hard work we’ve put in so far,  we still have so much a head of us.

We are sitting in limbo again. We are living in the grey zone of “want need the hell out of suburbia NOW”  and “we refuse to settle for a home that isn’t right”.

We have to cautiously get ourselves ready for selling (fall is right around the corner and is prime selling time), without burning out again and ending up discouraged like last time.

Despite all of our hard work last time and my many instalments of UFYH,  we have so much stuff. Everywhere. It just keeps growing and growing. I clean around it,  I shift it around the house,  and try to ignore it,  but it is taking over.
Part of my problem is that I have inherited my parents value of stuff (“but that cost $40 two years ago! It’s like new! Sure,  we never use it but we miiiight. One day. I can’t just get rid of it!” and “but that was my mother’s embroidery stuff! Sure,  it’s been in storage for 60 years but it means something to me!”)

I’m trying to be ruthless, but it’s so hard to move past those kinds of thoughts. I feel guilt for money long spent and I feel heartbroken about giving up items owned by family that I have since lost.

How do you keep your homes tidy? Do you declutter? Any tips for us? I need help!

Catching Up

I always feel like I have so much to share with you, until I click that little “New Post” button. My mind then goes blank or fills with “Meh, no one cares about that…”

So, I’ll try my best to ignore that and keep talking. Life has been trucking on. I attended the Brockville Babywearing group meet last month and had a blast, despite being late (screw you Google Maps). It was such a wonderful group of women and kiddos. I loved sharing my collection of carriers, or my “Magical Trunk” as it was referred to by the end of the meet. I spread the ring sling love and taught a few short carries.

Unfortunately, Liam managed to catch himself a case of Hand, Foot and Mouth while we were there, so we have been stuck inside with an unhappy and sore toddler for the last two weeks. Thankfully, we finally managed to get outside a couple of days ago and both feel so much better for it.

Liam, loving the park after being sick.

Liam, loving the park after being sick.

Another big thing that has been going on for us is that we fell in love with a house, got all ready to buy that house and then discovered it was a lemon. All within about a week. We were pretty heartbroken and have finally recovered to the point that we have realized we do still want to move, so we have started talking with an agent and will hopefully be fleeing the ‘burbs for a taste of country living! I can’t tell you house excited I am to start over somewhere new. We will be close enough to town that we can still see our peeps (Jenn, Krista, you aren’t rid of me yet!), while also being closer to my bestie, Sarah. Moving will mean some major life changes for us (getting rid of our blue beastie SUV for two smaller cheaper vehicles, living far more modestly, etc…), but I feel like I’m ready. I want to be in our forever home, so that every change and upgrade we make is for us, not the next owners. 

Otherwise, we have some travels coming up for us. Nothing fancy or major, but just a roadtrip to Montreal for a funeral. I’m dreading the drive and attempting to get a 2 yr. old to sit through the service, so wish us luck. Any tips or tricks on surviving this are welcome and appreciated.