loquacious family

Thursday, October 6, 2016

My WOE, or It Is Getting Personal

Since puberty, I've been plagued with all sorts of awful symptoms. I will spare you the details, but suffice to say that these symptoms have at times been embarrassing, often inconvenient, and at one point utterly devastating. I attribute our very difficult journey to fertility on some of these symptoms, and after recently consulting with an internal medicine specialist, I was finally referred to an endocrinologist.

Per the specialist, someone, somewhere along the way of my nearly three decades of seeing doctors should have picked up on the obvious: I very likely have a metabolic disorder called PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). My symptoms are all suggestive of PCOS, which is basically an issue with hormones in the body being out of balance, and producing more (or less) than required; a symptom of this imbalance is in fact the formation of cysts on ovaries, although they can sometimes be very very small and are almost always benign. There is no treatment for this condition, only a treatment to reduce its symptoms. The best way to do so? Lose weight.

I've been through a few scans and tests since then, and while the results aren't very conclusive, it does appear that my situation is a fairly "mild" case of PCOS relative to many others out there who have a very hard time with this condition. I'm not insulin-resistant, I'm not 300 pounds, and with assistance, I have been successful in having a healthy pregnancy that resulted in a gorgeous little girl. However, for the sake of my health and to reduce the symptoms that I do endure, I have to lose weight. Have. To.

My endocrinologist has advised bariatric surgery to assist in my weight loss. I, however, am fairly afraid of scalpels and anaesthesia. The alternatives, then, are either medication (no thanks!) or losing the weight on my own. I've been placed on the waitlist for bariatric surgery, but it is about 12-18 months long, so if in the intervening time I am able to drop the weight on my own, it won't be an issue anymore, because I simply won't qualify for the procedure, *and* I should be seeing an overall reduction in my symptoms that would negate my need for such drastic measures.

Anyway, those are the boring details. What's not boring is that I have recently begun eating differently; I'm following a hybrid Keto/low-carb, high fat diet to help put my body into a ketosis and hopefully train it to feed on my very ample fat stores. It's a diet rich in meat and dairy and non-starchy veg, and low on breads and sugar and fruit. My WOE (way of eating) has taken nearly a month for me to get used to, and during those first four weeks I did nothing but choose low-carb options. I didn't track my calories or protein, nor did I exercise. Even so, from the time I had weighed in at the doc's office to the time that I started weighing myself, I had lost 10 pounds. Water weight, I think.

As of this past Monday, I began aggressively following this WOE; I've been tracking my calories, fat/protein/carbs, sodium and fibre, and I have been cooking like a settler woman from the 19th century.

In just a few days, I've lost 3 pounds.

I have many many more to go, and I expect I will probably have bad days when my calories or carbs exceed my limits, but for the most part, I am committed. I have to be, since my energy levels were tanking and I wasn't able to stay awake in the afternoons to play with Little L. That's pretty bad.

So what am I eating/drinking?

Lots of egg scrambles with sausage, pancetta, bacon bits and/or spinach

Cheese and nuts and seaweed for my snacks

Chicken salad lunches

Cauliflower cheese bread

Fish and stir-fried ginger garlic cauliflower rice

Low carb cream-cheese pound cake (it's the stuff that is cubed into little pieces):

Anyway, I feel like this WOE is more like a WOL (way of life), and so my Insta and FB and even my blog posts will likely be peppered with images and whatnot as I figure all of this out. I'm still picky about what I like and don't like, and lazy in the kitchen, so these factors make my eating adventures kind of tricky. I'm leaning heavily on Google and FB groups to get ideas and keep myself motivated, but the ultimate motivations come from having more energy and life to actually enjoy having adventures with my little munchkin.

I have no idea why I decided to blog about this rather personal topic, but I guess since it is already creeping into my social media, I might as well come clean about eating clean :) Hopefully someone somewhere who needs a kick in the pants like I did will find this useful!

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday's Face

As you may know, the Trader Joe facial antioxidant products that I had raved about in an earlier post ended up burning my face due to my sensitivity to Vitamin C acid. Since I had already had a prior reaction when using another direct sale product, my skin decided to punish me for putting it through hell a second time. This go round, the warm, inflamed scaly patches refused to be quelled with the LaNeige Water Night Mask.

What's a girl with sandpaper skin to do?

Enter Saadia Argan Oil. Made by Moroccan relatives of this local company, this pure and natural oil literally saved my skin. It was in full burning/dry/rough mode as of Wednesday night, so I dug up my bottle and applied a good dose yesterday morning, and by this morning, my skin was feeling 90% better. For good measure, I applied a second dose 😊 The redness is gone, the skin temperatures have returned to cool, the swelling is no more, and most of that awful bumpy texture has been replaced by smooth, moisturized skin. I figure that at this rate, by Sunday I should be back to my old healthy skin! 😊

Disclaimer: I was given my bottle of Saadia Argan Oil as a gift from Greg of Ferguson Moving, kind of as a "thank-you for your business" and a "sorry, my movers broke a bunch of sh!t" gift. He doesn't know I blog and that I'm raving about his family's amazing product, which I do plan to buy another bottle of once this one is done. Also, I will still use them as my movers in the future. 😊👍🏼

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tuesday Tip

I'm not a big fan of synthetic things but I am a huge fan of efficiency, or maybe I'm just lazy. Whichever. Regardless, here's a life hack for ya! Disclaimer: it does involve chemical-laden materials so if you're all-natural, toxin-free, ethically-raised and locally-sourced exclusive, this isn't for your crunchy granola heart.

Today, yours truly burnt cream cheese onto her stainless steel pot today. Yes, I stepped away for all of a minute and it burned. Iron Chef I am not. 

So yeah, I remembered reading something about using a Bounce dryer sheet to help eliminate scrubbing and make cleaning the pot a lot less painful. Less scrubbing? Sold. 

I tossed a fresh dryer sheet into the pot with an inch of warm water and let it soak all day. The white sheet did a great job of covering up the nasty brown burns so I didn't mind leaving it on my stovetop, like some science experiment in the works.

Then, when I prepped dinner, I remembered to clean the pot. I mean, it was right in front of my face, so it was a great visual reminder too! And while the promise of no scrubbing was a lie, using the Bounce sheet did significantly reduce the amount of elbow grease I had to expend to salvage my cookware. I scrubbed at about 30% effort and it took all of a minute to return it to its former glory.

And now it is shiny again, although it smells distinctly of "Outdoor Fresh" so I'm gonna be dishwashing that pot before returning it to rotation. 

Easy peasy! 

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Three Monday Must-Buys

Here's a quick recap of a few things I've recently discovered and highly recommend to you. Let me know if you're already a fan - these aren't necessarily new products, just new to me!

Trader Joe's Face Products 
EDIT: Nevermind, back to the drawing board 

Remember how I was really loving Laneige, until I wasn't anymore? My nose was starting to be riddled with tiny pimples, the result of what I suspect was a too-rich formulation of their skin care system for my t-zone. I am still digging their Water Night Mask, but I'm out of their toner (which I also loved), and the other steps have long since been abandoned from my routine for making my nose break out. 

I had briefly moved on to the La Roche-Posay Hydrophase system, the result of a hasty and desperate drug store search for some product to replace my Laneige. Sure, I could have done some proper research and gone higher end, but I was working with a month-end beauty budget and a distinct lack of time, so I settled based on the beauty department lady's recommendation. Never trust the lady behind the counter! I disliked the steps of that system and the product never felt right on my face. I may just be tossing it into the garbage, because it's really not worth giving away or reselling. 

So we were at Trader Joe's the other day, and I decided on a whim to try their natural facial products, namely their (new) Nourish Antioxidant Facial Moisturizer, Nourish Antioxidant Facial Serum, and Nourish All-in-One Facial Cleanser. The final tab for all three items was less than $25US, so I figured it was a no harm-no foul experiment to see if their products would work on my skin.

You guys. Soooooo awesome. The cleanser is totally fragrance-free, gentle, and my face doesn't feel like it is being pulled when I'm done. The serum is my fave! It is thick and gel-like but totally mattes my face and preps it for moisturizer. It honestly reminds me of Smashbox's primer. I'm very happy with how it seals in moisture and makes my dry cheeks feel smooth and velvety. Finally, the lotion is also very rich but somehow it doesn't leave me shiny. I love that it keeps my mug hydrated all day long when worn with the serum (I haven't tried it on its own). While none of the lotions would be considered lightweight, together they feel like a good kind of barrier between my dry skin and the elements; they also make me feel like my face has plumped up (in a good way, not like carb bloat). I've had them on for a full day and it still feels like the products are working and locking moisture in. For $25US? A win. Also these are supposed to be natural products without harsh chemicals, which makes them even more awesome. 

EDIT: It is now Thursday, so I've been using this stuff for a week-ish. I think I'm allergic to Vitamin C or retinol, because my face is red and the top of my cheeks are dry again 😞 It is still an amazing product but sadly, I'm not the right skin type for it. If my skin was all like my t-zone (oily) then this series would be the best, but my cheeks are sensitive and dry so they need a totally different line of products. Blah. 

Tupperware Ice Cube Trays

Don't laugh because I'm old now, and get excited about Tupperware. I have been looking for the perfect ice trays for a while, and I think I've found them!  These ones have silicone bottoms to help pop out the ice easily, and lids to keep freezer odors from tainting my iced lattes. The cool part is that the tray lid also has a little door that opens and you can fill your ice tray upright to the marked line to ensure no spills (I'm the worst for leaving water on the counter; ask Hubbs)! Dry counters and perfectly filled ice cube trays! It's a game-changer! 

Compliments Brand Frozen Blueberries

So, until about a week ago, we were buying our frozen blueberries from Superstore. We were duped into thinking that all frozen blueberries are small and shrivelled looking, since that was how they looked in the bags that we has bought. 

Well, I happened to need frozen berries the other day, and picked up a different brand from a different grocery store. Whoa. These new berries were large and fully-formed, and looked like authentic fresh berries that had been flash frozen (versus those raisin-berries that looked like the bottom-barrel leftovers that fell out of the clamshell). 

It is like a whole new blueberry world has opened up for us, and now smoothies will never be the same. So glad I stumbled on this fab find!! 

Anyway, I'm a pretty happy camper, and getting great deals on quality goods always makes me feel good about my dollars spent. 

What are your Monday must-buys?! 

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

A Toy Story

We are, as you know, in the midst of purging some of Little L's toys. She had a whole bunch of them that were sold on Varage Sale, and several more that are currently being prepped for sale. While her stuffies all remain untouched (due to sentimental value according to her, or Hubbs, or myself), her other toys hold far less meaning and have thus been ruthlessly offered up for public sale.

And it has been interesting to note: when she has fewer things, her imagination explodes. While I'm sure you knew that truth already, it bears repeating because I knew it too. But somehow, in the fray of parenthood, I forgot about this. I got sucked up into the hype that certain shiny, loud, colourful toys would help aid her pretend play, or bring about a more satisfying playtime experience.

This has not proven true. If anything, the opposite has occurred. All of the toys I bought her stifled her imagination for that particular kind of play, but in removing those toys, her imagination has returned with a flourish.

For example, she has a pretend play kitchen. It has a phone, a stovetop that makes sounds with certain pots, and an under-counter light. It comes with food and cups and plates and cutlery. I totally thought she would love that toy. Nope. I can probably count on one hand the number of times she plays with it in a year. She might play with the food and pretend to cook with me on the floor, or use some of the pots as drums on her little table, but the kitchen holds no appeal for her. This one's going on sale in the next couple of days since it is a total space hog.

And then there's her camera. It's a totally basic Fisher-Price digital cam with a very low dpi and limited capacity, but it does have a digital screen to see your images, and you can take and delete pics as well as download them. She thought she wanted the thing two years ago when she saw it on an ad. Has she taken any pictures with it? Nope. However, Little L also has an imaginary camera which she has recently taken to using on a daily basis. She is often "showing me" the images and telling me what is happening in the videos. She loves that camera, and it is among her most prized possessions, along with her "bladder X-ray." The best part? These toys can never get lost. :)

Likewise, her singing teapot and tea cups, which she begged us to buy, sit unused in a box. Those cups aren't functional for tea so she can't use them "for real," and she doesn't like the music so it has to be turned off at all times. That toy set is also going on sale, since Little L far prefers having a "real" tea party with me using my espresso cups as teacups, and wine glasses and plates to form makeshift serving platters.

So why did I even bother spending the money on all of these toys? I'm forgetful and foolish, that's why. Learn from my mistakes, and resist the urge to buy more toys. Honestly, your kids might think they're missing out by not having these things, but in reality they won't benefit from them or derive any satisfaction from playing with them anyway, so be judicious! You won't regret it.

What toys have you found to be utterly useless in your household? 
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Friday, August 12, 2016

It's No Gift

Would you be offended if I said that Little L was gifted? Would you roll your eyes and think that I was being melodramatic, or perhaps exaggerating? Would you assume that I was trying to tout my kid as some sort of "special snowflake" for the sake of making myself or my kid seem superior? Would I suddenly lose your respect? Would you deem me a "stage mom" or some other kind of competitive parent who attempts to live vicariously through their progeny? I ask these things because I think them myself sometimes when I hear someone say that their kid is exceptional. Yeah, yeah. Every kid is exceptional, duh. Every kid is gifted, and a gift. *insert eye roll*

The label "gifted" is a pretty loaded term (what label isn't?!). We make a lot of assumptions about what giftedness means, and often these are academic in nature. The term "gifted" may conjure up images of little prodigies doing complicated math in elementary school, or kiddies who can barely reach the pedals but can skillfully execute difficult piano pieces. Giftedness is most often associated with, and determined by, IQs above 130 as measured on the WISC-V for kids (WAIS-IV for adults). When a child is deemed gifted, there is a good chance that their teachers (and even well-meaning parents) will interpret it to mean that this little person can do more, and more complex, assignments and tasks in academia. They may even suggest skipping grades to keep a gifted kiddo "challenged."

What people don't naturally assume, however, is that giftedness in children is often a disability of sorts. It isn't usually a clinically-diagnosed one, nor one that you can observe at first glance, but it is a very real problem for the kids who are developing asynchronously. Imagine being six years old, and understanding certain concepts like the classification of living things and how to factor integers. Imagine being able to read chapter books and newspaper articles when everyone else your size is still working on tricky sight words like "where" and "would." How would such a child relate to their same-age peers, who (age-appropriately) are just learning to decode full sentences and figure out one-to-one correspondence and place value? Now factor in the emotional maturity of most 6-year-olds with as-yet-underdeveloped prefrontal cortexes. Giftedness in certain areas does not suddenly advance a child's brain development in all areas; the brain matures fairly predictably. So now you've got a kid who understands big concepts but still has impulse control challenges and a tendency towards being overwhelmed by their feelings. Quite possibly, that little one with the big ideas will find it harder than most to relate to their peers, and not surprisingly, their peers may also find them kind of odd and not want to play with them either. The greater the asynchronicity between understanding and social/emotional/physical development, the harder it will be for this gifted child to adjust and adapt at school. Hence the disability. 

Then there is the comorbidity factor; giftedness doesn't always exist on its own. Gifted kids may also be "twice-exceptional" and have additional diagnoses of ASD, anxiety, ADHD, SPD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, or other learning disorders. This doesn't put them at an "advantage," then, and isn't exactly something anyone would wish upon their littles.

I hate the term "gifted." I was administered the WISC at age 8 and age 10, and found to have a "gifted" level IQ both times. The term embarrassed me and I never uttered it to anyone. The school placed me in an inter-school pull-out gifted education program once a week during my third- and fifth-grade years, and I don't think I ever told my school friends what it was for. The program was fairly progressive for its time (and in hindsight a brilliant differentiated approach to learning), but I still had to do my normal schoolwork when I returned to school. Gifted for me just meant more schoolwork from missing a regular day at school every week.

It also meant teachers placed an obscenely high set of expectations on me. They counted on me to know the answers, follow the rules, and exceed their expectations in nearly every subject (excluding gym, because my round tummy was around even then). They were disappointed when I didn't get an A or do well on a task, which only fuelled my own anxiety and tendencies for perfectionism. Having a gifted label on my file was a burden for me, psychologically and academically. 

Hubbs was spared the label, although the more I learn about the topic, the more I am convinced that my man is also gifted; he was a self-taught reader at age 4 and started programming/coding in kindergarten. His academic performance in grade school was sufficiently advanced that his teachers ended up giving him his own individualized education program.

Apples and trees. It is no surprise that Little L struggles with asynchronous development, too. I won't call it giftedness since she hasn't been formally assessed, and I hate the label anyway. My kiddo was speaking full 4+ word sentences at 17 months, and knew her alphabet and phonics at age 2. She memorized every word of Seuss's "What Was I Scared Of?" before her third birthday. She loves to play with words, inventing puns and dropping initial consonants just for the heck of it when she speaks. I've already had discussions with her about homonyms, density (molecular structures), and gravity. She is advanced for her age in certain areas (like reading/language skills, and certain kinds of patterning and general cognition), and a bit behind or at age-appropriate abilities for others, like emotional, social and physical development. This imbalance is significant enough to make her experience of school and life very different, and perhaps a bit harder, than a child who doesn't have such wide discrepancies in their development. For instance, most kids her age scrawl random lines on paper and invent a story to indicate what they wrote. Little L can't do it, because she knows how to read and knows what letters should look like; she even knows how some should be spelled; she can catch spelling and grammatical errors in print. She has anxiety that cripples her from even attempting to write her name, because how could a 4-year old with regular (or possibly delayed) fine motor skills ever expect to print a perfect set of letters? She even critiques my penmanship when it isn't straight or neat, so I know she is doing some mental deliberations about her own abilities when she refuses to try writing or colouring or using scissors. 

And so, my point is this: if you discover that someone's child may be "gifted," please don't automatically assume that this information is being disseminated to brag or boast. Please don't roll your eyes, at least not yet. I'd invite you to first find out a little more, and see beyond the label and to the invisible difficulties that children who have asynchronous development may be facing. If you're a teacher, don't assume that the bright or gifted child in your class will automatically excel and not have challenges that require adaptation. Don't just give them more school work; such approaches fail to address the underlying intellectual needs of the child. Please remember that every child lacks self-control and impulse regulation, and being "smarter" does not exempt a child from this; the human brain does not reach full maturity until near adulthood, and the frontal lobe develops last for everyone. And last of all, remember that giftedness may be no gift at all; let's be careful with our labels! 

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Times Change, People Change

grew up in a fairly homogeneous community of Caucasian people, where you could literally count on three fingers the number of Asian and First Nations kids in each classroom. Until high school, our student body didn't even have black or Latino students. It isn't hard to imagine the kind of breeding ground this northern town was for unsolicited racist jokes and commentary, including the highly-offensive "Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees..." ditty and other ignorant slurs.

Given the small population of visible minorities, people of the same ethnic group tended to stick together. Our Chinese community was not surprisingly quite insular, despite the fact that most of us kids attended different schools across the city. We all met at Saturday Chinese language school, or whenever a person from the community was holding a wedding banquet or major birthday feast. We also congregated for Chinese new year celebrations and other such festive occasions. Sometimes, it was simply a massive mah-jong fete that brought the many families together.

You'd think that, with such blatant racism to deal with from the "outside world," our little Chinese population would have each other's back, right? Wrong. While we all met fairly regularly, thanks to the unspoken Chinese "saving face" rules of etiquette that required representation from each family at the host's event, there was no love lost between the various factions of our little Asian community. Gossip was rampant, as were back-handed compliments and passive-aggressive slights for perceived insults. While my dad was a fairly popular guy in the community, even he was not immune to this sort of back-stabbing and rumour-mongering. Heck, he was an active, willing participant too!

As kids, this was what we witnessed growing up, and what we heard about at the kitchen table when the adults didn't shoo us away for eavesdropping on their gossipy conversations. If you caught anyone in a particularly feisty mood, they would even entertain our questions and elaborate on the gossip with their personal commentaries. The result of being an impressionable audience member is that we as kids began to form preconceived notions about these other Chinese kids in our community. If our parents didn't like their parents, or felt we had been insulted somehow by their words or deeds, then we as kids were fiercely loyal and hated the children of said offending family. If our parents perceived certain members of the community as being snobby or braggarts, we would in turn perceive their children in the same way. If our parents felt like these other families were "copying" us or trying to one-up our achievements, then we would also work hard to excel beyond the accomplishments of that other family's children so that we could maintain our bragging rights. That's just how impressionable little kids operate, and it was our "normal."

But here's the thing (and I'm a little embarrassed that it took me so many decades to realize this): those kids aren't their parents, and we are not ours either. The strange perceptions we formed of these other Chinese kids in our hometown community are no more true than whatever weird ideas they may hold about us. And that bizarre, inexplicable sense of competition and resentment that I have for some of these folks? Irrational. Unfounded. Ridiculous. I blame the gossip of yesteryear and the generations before us using us as their fodder for braggadocio (disclaimer: I'm not saying my parents did this, and I never saw them do so, but I've seen other parents in the community doing this exact thing, right down to piano lesson bragging rights or who bought the biggest condominium/home in the city).

I recently came across the FB profile for the one of the kids of one of these Chinese families. She actually lives in my neck of the woods, and had we not moved last year, I probably would have run into her at the local Urban Fare. It appears that her child is around Little L's age. She is an accomplished professional in her field. I know little more about her given the privacy features of FB, but I suspect that in a different world we would have been friends. And my silly "grudges" and preconceived biases against her? As reliable as something that comes out of Donald Trump's mouth.

So here's my take-away: times change. People change. And little kids are unbelievably impressionable. Therefore, if ever Hubbs or I should have any biases against anyone we know, we would be best served holding our tongues and egos in check. It's a good reminder.

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