Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008, don't let the door hit you on the way out

I wanted to write a 2008 wrap-up, but as you can tell by the post below it would be a pretty angry thing to read.

So I'm not going to write about not-so-good stuff that happened to my family back home. Seriously, I kept asking myself, "what on earth is going to happen next?" I won't expand on it because it's not mine to tell... but trust me, it was not good.

And I'm not going to write how Fred and I were the subject of gossip by people we thought were our friends. And I won't write about how utterly hurt we were by it and how a friendship ended because of it.

And I won't mention that we still don't have our green card, and so we were not able to go home to Vancouver like we had planned. We ended up not taking a vacation at all this year because we didn't want to use vacation days or money from our vacation budget in hopes that the green card would eventually come through and I'd be able to go home for the first time in 3 years.

Missing from this summary will be all the mysterious illnesses Elise came down with and the numerous ultrasounds and CT scan we had to subject her to. You especially won't hear a thing about how Elise was diagnosed with diabetes only two days after she turned one. And how we got the phone call telling us we needed to take her to the hospital in THE MIDDLE OF HER BIRTHDAY PARTY.

And I won't write about how heart-breakingly awful her illness has been. Or the stress it has put on Fred and I and our marriage. Or how lonely it has been dealing with this by ourselves. Or how some days the despair is so bleak I wonder if I'll even be able to get out of bed.

When Fred sat down today to write the Cunha End of the Year Newsletter, he asked me, "What happened that was good this year?"

I thought about it for a few seconds and quipped, "Well, we're still alive."

But when I sit and really think about it, despite all the junk we've been through, there were bright moments.

As horrible as diabetes is, I realize that it's treatable. As long as we remain vigilant, and take good care of her, Elise will survive. I know of friends whose empty arms are aching for their children, and would take a chronic illness any day over the alternative.

Though we didn't take a vacation, the fact remains that we could have afforded to, if we had wanted to. Because we were blessed enough to get out of debt 4 years ago, and we have been diligent about our budget; we were not really affected by the economic crisis. Sure Fred's 401k has taken a hit and our investments are not worth as much as before, but we're young and have time to build them up again.

And since Fred didn't take a vacation, he had about three weeks worth of vacation days accrued that needed to be used up before the end of the year. So Fred has been on vacation since Dec. 12, making life a little less stressful for me. Elise and I have enjoyed having him home.

As far as our marriage goes, both Fred and I remain devoted to one another and will not let the stress tear us apart. It is our strong bond and love for each other that allows us to face this disease head on.

And above all, I know my God loves me and I can always find comfort in His arms.

So I bid 2008 a not-so-fond farewell. I hope that '09 is kind to you and yours.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Fan Letter to 2008

Dear 2008,

You suck. To quote Homer Simpson, you are "the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked." If you were a person, you would that be Governor Hairpiece from Illinois. Perhaps the only way you could suck more is if you were the Dallas Cowboys playing against the Eagles for a playoff spot. Or maybe if you were just the Dallas Stars.

I don't like you very much and I'm glad you are about to be gone.

To sum up, you suck.

Yours very sincerely,
Joanne

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Things I learned this Christmas

Well, we have survived our first Christmas with a child that is somewhat cognizant of what's going on, Christmas-wise. I learned some things and because I'm feeling mildly philanthropic, I thought I'd share them with you:


  • Although toys that have lots of lights and make a bunch of noise are fun for the kiddos, not so much for the parents. Books = the perfect gift. The Little People Farm = not bad, the mooing isn't that loud. Toy Lawn Mower with music, a popper, and realistic sounds = just a plain old BAD IDEA. If we didn't have to surgically remove it from Elise's hands every time we need to take it away, then I would whisk it back to Target in a heartbeat.

  • For toys that require ANY assembly, it is wisest to either assemble it and leave it under the tree, or assemble it and put it back it it's box (if possible) and wrap it. Because nothing is shorter that the patience of a 15 month that has spied a new, fun toy, and cannot wait the 5 minutes it would take to wrestle the toy out of the box, attach any loose parts, and insert the batteries. That girl, she can scream.
  • Those grey twisty wire things that are used to attach the toys to the plethora of cardboard that is inside the packaging (parents of young kids know what I'm talking about) are just plain evil. I think they have taken the place of that hard, impenetrable plastic that houses electronic items as my nemesis.

  • It's okay to give your child your old toys as presents. Hey, it's new to them. My mom gave Elise a rocking chair for Christmas, so I got some of my old stuffed animals, gave them a good washing, and sat them in her chair under the tree. Reuse, Reduce and Recycle, right?

    Weirdest Christmas memory: Spiriting Elise through the family room with a blanket on her head. We needed to give her insulin and feed her before we could unwrap the presents, and there was no way to get her to her high chair without her seeing the tree and presents; so we put her blanket over her head and ran her into the kitchen.


  • Favourite Christmas memory: Elise's expression when she finally came into the family room. Pure amazement. It's fun to see Christmas through the eyes of a child, instead of a grown man who reverts to one on Christmas morning.

    I'm an Adult Now

    It's 12:33 a.m. on Christmas Day and I am awake. Still assembling and wrapping Christmas presents.

    I think I've discovered the time at which Christmas loses its (without the apostrophe) magical appeal.

    Wednesday, December 24, 2008

    Shopping on Christmas Eve Observations

    I realized this morning that all my Christmas shopping was not indeed done as I had previously thought. Poor Seven, who pretty much gets shafted every day lately had nary a present under the tree. So I gathered up my nerve and headed out this afternoon. My first stop took me to a nearby mall:
    • It was busy, but not that bad. I remember when I used to go Christmas shopping back home. Now THAT was a beating. You would circle and circle the lot at the mall. Not to find a space close to the door, but to find a space at all. The best strategy was to sit in one spot and follow somebody when you saw them walking to their car. And if they were just walking out to their just car to drop off their bags so they could go shop some more? Well, then you'd run them over.
    • People need to smile more... it's CHRISTMAS, dammit!
    • I don't care who you are, or how old you are, but using the cruder term for bull-excrement three times in less than five seconds makes you sound like you have the IQ of a barn swallow.
    • If you are going to a public place where there are copious amounts of people gathered and it's warm and indoors... shower, please!
    • I saw a guy pounding on the outside glass of a store to get his girlfriend's attention inside. When she looked up at him, he motioned to her that she should pick up her cell phone that he was calling her on. Just... wow. She should totally marry that guy... now.

    Second stop, Target. Man, I love that place. I always tell people that if I became homeless I would move into a Costco. Same goes for Target. Although I guess it would have to be a Super Target so I could have access to fresh fruit lest I get scurvy or something.

    Saturday, December 20, 2008

    Happy Birthday Uncle Chicken!

    Just wanted to say Happy Birthday to my brother Stefan (we tell Elise that his name is Uncle Chicken - actually I believe it's how he refers to himself). He's my older brother by 4 years, and he turns 25 tomorrow (Dec.21). So that makes me 21.

    Look how awesome we are sporting our Bicycle Safety Week shirts in Stanley Park.

    I can't wait until Elise gets to meet her Uncle Chicken, he is a strangely hilarious, fantastically bizarre, and an immensly funny guy to be around. He used to make me laugh so hard I would almost pee myself. I guess it's a good thing that Elise is already in diapers.

    Wednesday, December 17, 2008

    Now Where did I put my Bon-bons?

    Heh, funny. Funnier still, I know people who could have written this letter...

    Thanks to my friend Melissa for sending it my way. I needed a laugh.

    We Can Dance if we Want To

    Send your own ElfYourself eCards

    Tuesday, December 16, 2008

    Say it With Me...


    Awwwwwwwww!

    The Return of the Christmas Tree

    And it's baaaaaaaaack! The tree is up and fully decorated. And quite pretty!



    Thank you to my WONDERFUL husband for all his incredibly hard work getting it done. Had it been me, I probably would have launched that tree into our street with a primeval scream that would have sent our neighbours scurrying inside of their homes in fear.

    Then I would have kicked and stomped it until I was out of breath.

    And then, for good measure, I would have driven to Southlake, stolen a Hummer, came back and driven over the tree again and again, until it was nothing but toothpicks. Being the good tree-hugger that I am, I would keep the toothpicks for use in my kitchen, and do all of this while wearing my Birkenstocks.

    It ain't easy being green...

    Sunday, December 14, 2008

    Oh Christmas Tree, Oh... crap.

    Remember how I blogged about our beautiful Christmas tree that we cut down on Saturday? Remember how I said I couldn't wait to decorate it? Well, we did. And it was so pretty. And Elise didn't even pay any attention to it. She came down from her nap, looked at it, babbled something, and went on her merry way. I was so glad that I wouldn't have to worry about her messing with the tree.

    We came home from dropping Fred's Mom off at the airport, and Fred walked into the living room and said something like, "well THIS doesn't look right." I followed him in to see our 9-foot Christmas tree laying on the floor, ornaments smashed beneath it, and the water from the stand poured out onto the carpet.

    We put Elise in her play area, and commenced clean-up, with the lovely background music of a screaming child. Fred hauled the tree outside, where he cut a foot off the trunk. Right now our tree is hanging out in the garage until we get the energy to try again.

    The good news is that although a bunch of ornaments were smashed, NONE of the ornaments that Fred and I give each other each year were broken. That would have been the kick to the groin while I was already laying on the ground in pain. You know, if I were a guy.

    She did WHAT?

    After a rough night with Elise (waking up at midnight and not going back to sleep until about 4:30 a.m.), we woke up to a bit of a surprise this morning. We awoke to hearing her chatting quietly to herself this morning. It was about 8:15, a FULL 30 minutes later than she usually wakes up. Gee Elise, thanks for that early Christmas present. Anyway, that's not the surprise.

    While we were getting ready to go get her out of her crib, we hear a small thud. It sounded like she was pounding on the wall, something she's done a million times, so we didn't think anything of it. We walk down the hallway and notice her door was closed, not cracked open like we usually leave. Huh, that's weird.

    Well, we open the door and were aghast to see Elise wandering around her room! Somehow she had gotten out of her crib. We never heard her cry after the thud, and we have no idea how she even managed to get out. The railing comes up to about her shoulders, and there is NO WAY she has the upper body strength to hoist herself out of the crib.

    How did this happen? How do I stop it from happening again? She's only 15 months old, isn't that a little young for this? Anybody???

    Saturday, December 13, 2008

    Tree to get Ready...

    Man that's a HORRIBLE post title. But my brain is so tired I can't think of another one.

    Anyway, Saturday was the annual Cunha trip to get our Christmas tree... old-school style! Since 2002, we have driven out to Walls Family Farms to hand-pick and cut down our very own tree. Back in the early days we were so broke that our tree was usually a tiny, pitiful, Charlie-Brown tree. This year Fred picked out a beautiful 9-footer! I can't wait to decorate it.

    We packed the Mom-in-law (she's in town visiting from Toronto), Seven, Elise, Fred and I in the Rodeo and drove off to Terrell. If not for the wind, the weather would have been perfect. Here are some fun pics:

    Hayride with the Beans!

    Elise wants a Christmas Stump

    Nature Girl

    Elise and avรณ

    Off to find the perfect tree

    Seven in her element

    Our tree!

    Merry Christmas from the Cunha Family!

    Tuesday, December 9, 2008

    Speaking of Morrisey...

    I'm not a huge football fan. I never grew up watching it and I prefer sports with less standing around and more action; like hockey. But Fred enjoys watching it, and has become a Cowboys fan since we moved to Dallas. So on Sundays I'll indulge him, and sit with him while he watches the game. Besides, I've found it a wonderful way to lull me into a Sunday afternoon nap.

    This past Sunday I was cutting out coupons while the game was on. During one commercial break, there was a promo for the NFL on Fox with a very familiar song in the background. I turned to Fred, "was that Morrisey I just heard? Please tell me the NFL is not using a Morrisey song for their commercial!"

    Well, it was... but not really. And they are... sort of. What I heard was some horrible, countrified version of The Moz's Everyday is Like Sunday. Yikes. It was... terrible. I couldn't believe that Morrisey would actually agree to such a thing, but it was actually a promo for the NFL on Fox, so Fred informed me that Fox doesn't need his permission.

    My question is, who picked this song and why? I'm not really sure a song about depression and boredom with lyrics like:

    In the seaside town
    that they forgot to bomb
    Come, come, come - nuclear bomb

    is really a good fit. I picture some guy googling songs for his promo, "hmmm, the song's gotta have Sunday in it. So, let's just type in; songs, Sunday, lyrics... hit search. Let's see, Sunday Bloody Sunday? That sounds good. Tell Me on a Sunday? Nah. Ohhh, what's this one? Everyday is Like Sunday? Perfect!" I'm guessing he's never actually heard the song or read the rest of the lyrics.

    As Fred said to me, "it would be like using Queen's 'I Want to Break Free' for a Prison Break promo." Heh. Fred. He makes me laugh.

    Sunday, December 7, 2008

    The Revenge of These are a few of my Favourite Things

    My explanation as to why I do these: As I've stated in a previous post, I have opinions... lots of them. And when I find something I love... I mean really, almost-as-good-as-chocolate love, I feel compelled to shout about it from the rooftops. So I've decided to post about them every now and again. I receive no compensation from these things/website/places/people, but would gladly welcome whatever they would like to send my way. I like presents.

    I bet people who fancy themselves to be culinary experts detest the crockpot and everything it stands for. They probably view it as the redheaded step-child of the kitchen. Being a redhead, I don't really understand that phrase. These days, most people want to be a redhead. But I've wandered a bit off-topic...

    I don't remember how I stumbled upon this blog, but I love it, and everything it stands for. These days, what do most people complain about being short of? Time and money. This website helps you save both. It's called A Year of Crockpotting because the author made a resolution last New Year's to use her crockpot every day in 2008.

    So far I've tried two recipes; Chicken Soup (I tweaked it a bit and made it before I went to bed, letting it simmer though the night - my house smelled amazing!), and yogurt. Yes I did. I made yogurt in my crockpot. It was pretty cool. And way cheaper than buying Yobaby.

    She gives good detailed instructions as well as pictures of the ingredients she used and what her final product looked like. She also includes her verdict, and is pretty honest about it. I find her writing to be funny and entertaining too.

    So dust off your crockpot and simmer up something good!

    Thursday, December 4, 2008

    Is the Economy Really THAT Bad?

    Tough day today. Elise has been pretty sick this week, and it all came to a head today. My day consisted of:
    • Holding a clingy, feverish baby most of the morning while trying to check her sugars, check for ketones, and juggle calls from the pedi's office and the endo's office. At some point I recall eating an apple.
    • Taking said baby to the pedi's, and watching them inflict torturous exams on her while she screamed and struggled in my arms. Unfortunately her regular doc was off today so we had to see a doc that was a total stranger to Elise. This did not help matters.
    • Return home, and hold a clingy, feverish baby the rest of the afternoon.

    Didn't leave much time for the making of dinner. When Fred came home, I asked if he minded me running a few errands. As a thank you, I told him I'd pick up some Chick-fil-a (his absolute favourite - the man would eat it every day if possible) on my way back. My errands took me to Southlake, so I hit up the Chick-fil-a there.

    Because their drive-thru is always packed, I parked and went inside to order. As I was placing my order, the guy interrupted me to tell me he could give me the chicken, but no fries. Pardon? Because English was totally not his first language, I thought something might have been lost in translation. What I asked him to repeat himself, he told me the same thing and then looked at me like this was totally normal.

    I looked around, and a customer at another register was receiving fries. And I could see fries stacked up in the little fry container holder-thingy. I even saw an employee dumping fresh fries into the fry bin. So I pointed and asked, "Um, aren't those fries?"

    At this point he gets the manager who explains to me that those fries are already spoken for. He then walks away. At this point I'm starting to wonder if I'm on some hidden camera show, because it all seems so weird. The cashier looks at me expectantly, and I try once more. "You really have no fries?"

    Another employee walking by tells me that they've run out. All the fries are gone. No fries for you (okay I added that last part myself)!

    Is there some sort of fry shortage because of the bad economy? Should I start hoarding fries? Is the price of fries going to soar so only people like Paris Hilton (who probably wouldn't be caught dead eating a french fry) can afford them? I'm a little bit worried.

    So what do I do? I grab a handful (or five) of their mints, leave, and drive to the Grapevine location; where the fries flow like rainfall in Vancouver.