Saturday, July 01, 2017

The week of the gall bladder

It has been quite a week at the Drysdale house. It started last Thursday. My stomach wasn't feeling just right in the evening, but I thought I'd wake up feeling better on Friday morning. It wasn't so. I spent the day in bed on Friday with back pain and nausea. I was disappointed to feel the same way on Saturday as we had made plans to go to the beach with some friends. As one of our only "available" weekends of the summer I hated to spend it in bed but that's what I did. By Sunday, I was feeling more myself so we attended the annual Moore family reunion and squeezed in a visit with my brother and his family.

And then it hit me. Sunday night I woke up about 3:30am with what I knew was a gall bladder attack. I've had a number of attacks over the past year or so but none were this bad or lasted this long. We decided around 7am I should go to the ER so, we dropped Cody off at school and Devin took me into London. We were in his work truck and each bump along the way caused me to moan in agony.

I arrived at the ER looking pretty disheveled - hot water bottle in tow.  Fortunately they could see my anguish as we only waited about 10 minutes in the waiting room before being called in to a bed. I saw a lot of people in a short time - nurses, interns, residents, ultrasound ops, etc. Through several ultrasounds they determined I had a lot of gall stones and one was in the neck of my gall bladder - which was causing the pain. I'm not sure if the doctor that did the original bedside ultrasound dislodged the stone or not but the pain seemed to settle down after he completed the first scan.

Bumped into my old friend Nick on my way home! :)
My sister Jo-Anne came to spend her day off with me while Devin went to work. It was such a comfort to have her there - she even brought me a nice warm blanket as it was freezing at the hospital! She thinks of questions that I never would and ensured I was taken care of. She also drove me home and settled me in before heading out.

I was so relieved when they told me I'd be having the surgery on Thursday. I actually had a consultation on July 11 with a surgeon, but I knew it would be more waiting after the initial appointment. So, to have this dealt with within a few days was wonderful. And it actually ended up happening a day early! They called and asked me not to eat after midnight on Tuesday night in hopes they could get me in on Wednesday.

I went to work on Wednesday morning and sure enough, at 9:30 I got the call and was off to the hospital. Of course, I had made all my arrangements for Thursday.... Mom was going to be with me at the hospital and bring me home, Randy was going to pick Cody up from school and take him home.... a day early had me scrambling. However, I'm surrounded by great people that help out in time of need. Randy came a day early and looked after Cody and though my mom couldn't come to the hospital, she spent the day with me at home on Thursday and made sure I was resting comfortably.

Flowers from John & Karen (left) and Mom & Dad (right)
My dad had his gall bladder out when I was a kid. It was a big deal. He was in the hospital for about a week and still has a big scar. I'm happy to say things have changed. They now do the surgery laparoscopically so I went home just hours after the surgery and will have very minimal - if any - scarring. It's not my ideal way of spending Canada 150 but I'm grateful for the way things timed out and now have this behind me.

Monday, May 22, 2017

After a year... are you still "newlyweds"?

A year has come and gone since I became Janice Drysdale. It's hard to believe! In one way, it feels like we've been married for so long because it was such a natural transition. In other ways, it just feels like yesterday that I was a single gal longing for all the things that are now my reality!

I'm so incredibly blessed to have such a wonderful husband. He's patient and encouraging, always making me laugh, he's handy - completing lots of projects around the house and he balances me. When I worry about every last detail, he is carefree and trusting God. It has been such a wonderful year.

But, it's funny how life doesn't go the way it is planned in your head. I never would've imagined my first year of marriage being so chaotic:
  • moving two houses and all the boxes that go with that
  • selling my beloved Beetle and driving a pick up truck
  • helping a child settle into a new school
  • becoming an English tutor as we help Cody learn to read
  • basically crash-coursing how to become a parent and deal with discipline, learning expectations, responsibilities, etc. Yikes!
If I imagined that I would be choosing my first anniversary card for my husband while standing in the grocery store - with the clock ticking - I would have thought that was ludicrous. Not me! Cards are far too important to be rushed. In fact, they should be hand made.

LOL. Hand made. What a joke. I haven't even had time to put together the photobook of our wedding! Gone are the days of having current annual photobooks. I haven't created one since I met Devin.

One day, life will settle down and I will once again enjoy the things I once did. But for now, I'm immersed in the moment of being a wife and mom. And you know what? I wouldn't trade it for the world. It's what I've been waiting my whole life for.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Mother's Day and Such...

On this day 2 years ago, I met a very important young man. A little red head that I now call son.

I must admit, I was nervous to meet Cody. Things were going so well with Devin, I was afraid of rejection from his son. We agreed after knowing each other a couple of months that we were ready for the two of us to meet. We made plans for Saturday, May 9th - which just happened to be the day before Mother's Day.

I parked my car and anxiously walked to the door. I was met by a grinning Devin. He was so excited to see me! He called Cody out of his room and introduced us. At first he was shy - hiding behind Devin - but that only lasted about 2 minutes. Then he wanted to show me his room and his toys. 

Devin knew that it was going to be a special day for each of us and he wanted to make it memorable. He wouldn't tell us where we were going until we got there. As we rounded a corner, Cody could see a helicopter through the sunroof of the car. He commented on that and Devin said "do you think it would be fun to ride in one of those?" Yep! We were going on a helicopter ride over Niagara Falls! (it's worth noting that Devin lived about 30 minutes from the falls)

What a day! We hovered over the falls and enjoyed the gorgeous view, but I don't honestly remember a lot from that ride. I was too overwhelmed with what God was doing in my life. I knew that He was putting the pieces of my family together.

Cody has been such a blessing to me and the bond we share is quite remarkable. I didn't know that I could love someone else's child this much. Although he is my stepson it doesn't feel that way. He has welcomed me into his life with open arms.

This morning at work, I found this note in my lunch bag. Oh my heart. I can't believe how fortunate I am.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Happy Birthday Mum!


As my dear mum turned 70 this year, I wanted to share some words about this incredibly special lady. It's impossible to articulate how I really feel about her, but I'll share the toast I wrote for her birthday dinner.

What a wonderful privilege to call this woman our mum and Grammie. From a new wife with three under three to a loving Grammie that has expanded her flock to 14…your life has been spent pouring into and building up the people around you.

Mum, your caring and nurturing traits are what got you the nickname Mama Ellen at Meadowview and they’re what are at the very essence of who you are. You started off helping out with a brood of five brothers, picked the perfect profession when you became a nurse and spent 30+ years caring for others. And each one of us got the benefit of having you as our MUM.

I dare say I had the best spot in the family – as the “baby”. It meant that I got to spend one on one time with you while the rest were at school.  These memories include baking bread, trips to town, learning to read, many many songs and the time you took me to see my hero – Mr. Dressup.

Honestly, it wasn’t until this past year that I fully realized the sacrifices you made for us. When I remember my days at home, I don’t remember you having many hobbies of your own or nights out with a friend. You were old faithful. Preparing a meal for the family, cleaning up from the meal, helping one of us with a homework assignment, counseling another through some tears, repairing a ripped pair of pants, and making lunches before calling it a night. Mum, you gave everything you had for your family and we are all here tonight to say THANK YOU.

One thing that I’m so grateful for and as an adult have such an appreciation for is our spiritual upbringing. Through it all, you never wavered - faithfully taking us to church on Sunday, Family night on Tuesday, youth group on Fridays all while building a strong foundation of faith in each of your children.

We’ve had many laughs over the years as well. You aren’t afraid to be silly and enjoy a good belly laugh. Actually, a lot of those laughs came on family vacations. Who could forget the squeals of terror on the Cabot Trail or the famous “row boat” incident at Rainbow Valley? Your first trip down the waterslide was one to remember but we were all thrilled that you were brave enough to jump in!

Mum, you truly reflect the meaning of love shared with us in First Corinthians 13.

Mum is patient, Mum is kind. She does not envy, she does not boast, she is not proud. She does not dishonor others,  she is not self-seeking, she is not easily angered, she keeps no record of wrongs. Mum does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Mum always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Mum, tonight we want to celebrate who you are and who you’ve been. We are all so grateful for the unfailing love and support. Happy 70th birthday and we look forward to celebrating many more with you.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Stories

One of my favourite memories with my Grandma Mills was listening to her stories. Stories from
when she was a girl or when my dad or his siblings were little. Those stories - told over and over - fascinated me.

Stories from my other Grammie were equally as alluring. Tales of growing up in England, falling in love with a Canadian soldier and her adventures in raising a young family in a new country were mesmerizing!

Several weeks ago, I was thinking about this and how I need to be sharing my own stories with Cody. Well, no sooner had the thought entered my head and we were right in the middle of it.

We were in the truck driving back from Niagara when Cody asked if we could listen to the radio. I suggested we leave the radio off and talk for a bit. Honestly, I had not thought of sharing stories - just thought it was an opportunity to have some family discussion. His response was "Tell me all about your first Beetle. Tell me what you were doing when you got smashed into and what happened after. I want to know everything."

So, for the next two hours, I shared true stories of my past with Cody. It was fun! I was surprised by what he thought was interesting. After I detailed the demise of my beetle, I shared with him about Dad getting his toe chopped off, my first time on an airplane, and my first trip to Marineland. (quite the range of topics!)

The questions didn't end when we got home. On Tuesday morning, it was just the two of us for breakfast since Devin was away doing some training for work. While I was preparing things, he asked if we could "do that thing again like we did in the truck". He wanted to ask more questions. Awww. So, over breakfast we discussed more tidbits about me. His fascination was really adorable.

I started writing this blog post yesterday and before I could finish it, last night Cody found my Blook (a photobook printed from my blog) and sat down to look at it. While I made dinner he poured over the photos and asked questions. While Daddy & I were having a conversation, he didn't want to interrupt us, so he put some bookmarks in the pages he had questions about. When we finished he said "Emmy, I have a number of questions I want to ask you." Ha ha ha. Who is this kid?

It's funny how things take care of themselves. I didn't need to worry about making time for stories. The stories took care of themselves!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

"Just Because" Flowers are the BEST!

Yesterday my husband arrived home with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. It wasn't my birthday, our anniversary or any other "special" day. He got them for me just because. Or, more accurately, he had listened to a broadcast from Chuck Swindoll that encouraged listeners to love their family, spend time with them, and let them know how special they are. He was inspired by this message to pick up flowers for me on the way home.

I don't need flowers every day, every week or every month, but it sure felt nice to be appreciated. It's so easy to get caught up in the to-do list that we miss key opportunities to enjoy moments with the ones we love.

Last night Devin & Cody went for a bike ride while I got dinner ready. And this morning when Cody bounded into our room - all dressed and ready for school, we lingered a few extra moments having some morning snuggles. As he said "it's the best way for me to start the day".

I agree!

Footnote: You can listen to Chuck Swindoll's 3 part series here - entitled Delightful Memories Your Children Won't Forget.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

My Epic March Break

For the first time in a long time, I enjoyed a week off in the middle of March. I remember looking forward to "March Break" when I was in school - mostly because my birthday always fell during the vacation.

This year, I decided to take the week off work so I could spend it with my favourite 8-year-old. We had such a GREAT week, but were both exhausted by the end of it.

On Monday we met up with friends Laura and Luke for a cooking class at Loblaws. During the Mexican Fiesta, the boys whipped up a real feast and enjoyed their lunch. Laura and I caught up over coffee at the nearby Williams. To burn off a little more energy, we let them run around the McDonald's play area afterwards. Wow, talk about gross! It went against my better judgement to be there. Just the smell of sweaty kids, stinky socks, wet boots and McDonald's food was enough to prevent me from going back. LOL. But the boys had fun.

In the afternoon, we headed to my stompin' grounds of the TV station for a tour. It was great to see some of my old friends and catch up. Cody was intrigued by the many buttons, lights and cameras. He even had the opportunity to be the weatherman! It was trickier than he thought - ensuring he was pointing the right way on the screen!

We set out for Sarnia on Tuesday to visit my BFF and her kidlets. It was so nice to have some time to catch up and see the kids playing together. They had fun building a fort, doing crafts and playing outside. Oh, and putting on a performance!

The real excitement started Tuesday night when we stayed over night at Jo-Anne & Nick's house. It the morning we set off for my Aunt & Uncle's place near Goderich. I'm convinced that everyone needs a Penny & Cliff in their life. We all had such a great time! Over the course of the three days we were there, the boys went to a watercolour class at the library, swimming at the Y, and a Mad Science presentation. But the memories were made with Uncle Cliff and Aunt Penny while building a teepee in the woods behind their house. It was a chance for little boys to do what little boys like to do.... hauling dead trees around, jumping on stuff, sliding down the hill, and GETTING DIRTY!

They loved their trips over to the teepee. Uncle Cliff bossed the job and named himself Chief Big Shot. Aunt Penny was helpful in breaking off the lower branches so no one got poked in the eye, and, of course, brought snacks!

It was a wonderful week of fun and adventure for me an the munchkin. We shared lots of snuggles and "I love you's" and added some memories to the memory bank.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What is Love?

There are certainly plenty of songs, poems and thoughts about love but, has anyone really figured it out? It's an elusive topic, for sure. Many people are in search of it but I'm not sure how many people find it.

On this Valentine's Day, love is in the air. Everywhere you look there are heart shaped EVERYthings. So I thought I'd take a moment to ponder my true love. Until I met Devin, I had experienced love in a number of ways - with family, with friends, love of the Beatles, love of MY Beetle. But the love I now share with my husband is one so different than any of the others I had ever known.

I believe it's because it reflects the love of our creator. I truly believe that God orchestrated our lives being brought together and has blessed our relationship. We love because God first loved us.

How do I love him? Let me count the ways...
  • I love that he makes me feel safe.
  • I love that he makes me feel beautiful.
  • I love the way that he's a Daddy.
  • I love the way he encourages me to be a Mommy.
  • I love the way he makes me LAUGH.
  • I love that we agree on the fundamentals and are committed to this life together.
  • I love the way he knows me.
  • I love his thoughtful and analytical mind.
  • I love his attention to detail.
  • I love his positive outlook and encouragement.
  • I love his beautiful blue eyes and how they look at me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Eight is Great!

This little guy turned 8 years old today. I told him this is where he stops getting bigger! He's at such a fun stage - exploring and discovering new things, his is personality starting to form, he still loves giving and receiving hugs and kisses... I want him to stay here forever!

I never dreamed it was possible to love someone else's child as my own. But that is exactly what happened with Cody. He has become such a huge part of my life, worming his way into my heart and grabbing hold!

I love the moments in the truck when we share a favourite song or when he recognizes a Paul McCartney song. I love it when we see a Beetle driving down the street and we call out "love bug" and blow each other a kiss. I savour the moments cuddled on the couch with a book. I am so grateful for the tender moments we share, the times he grabs my hand and tells me he loves me or wants to run and jump into a bear hug. I am blessed to have this little life to pour into and it spills back onto me.

So, today we celebrate this wonderful redhead that God has blessed us with. He is truly special and I can't wait to see what's in store for him.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Banff for Christmas

What a wonderful place to spend the holidays! This year Devin & I flew to Banff for Christmas. A number of factors came together to make it a reality: Cody was spending Christmas with his mom, Devin & I both had nearly a week off work without taking "vacation" time, we had wanted to do a delayed honeymoon at some point....so, the decision was made.

We stayed at Buffalo Mountain Lodge just outside the city. It was exactly the feel we were going for. The lobby was totally decked out for Christmas with a roaring fire in the fireplace. We even had a fireplace in our room!

This trip was the perfect blend of relaxation (puzzles and Christmas movies) and adventure (snowmobiling up a mountain). The views were so spectacular we felt that we were in a snowglobe! It was cold - I wore an insulating layer the entire time I was there - but gorgeous. The layer of snow on top of everything was breathtaking.

One of the moments I had anticipated the most was the "one horse open sleigh" ride on Christmas Eve. I'm a real sap sometimes and the thought of doing this in the mountains on December 24th was just too much for me to handle! It did not disappoint. We climbed into our sleigh and were covered by a buffalo hide for warmth. We made our way through some open areas and even spotted a herd of elk. As the snow softly fell, I tried to take a mental snapshot that I could savour in years to come. What a unique experience!

Another one of my favourite moments was our full day of snowmobiling in BC. Wow! What an adventure. It was amazing to wind our way up the mountain and see the fantastic views along the way. We stopped a few times at particularly breathtaking vantage points - including this frozen waterfall. At the top, we stopped for lunch at a cabin - giving us the opportunity to warm up. After lunch, it was time to rip around the "powder bowl". That was what Devin had been anticipating since we booked the trip :) However, when you're on the BACK of the snowmobile, it's much different. With each bump, my bum came right off the seat! I was really getting jostled around and thought I might just fly off the back and Devin would never know. So, I had a time out to take photos while he raced around like a maniac.

We both returned home sick with a cold, but we had such a great time, it didn't seem to matter! What a great first Christmas as Mr. & Mrs.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Better to Have Loved and Lost...

Grieving the loss of someone you love is relatively new to me. Fortunately I have not lost a lot of loved ones. I was only 6 when my Grandma Mills passed away and the loss was much different as a child. My Grandad died when I was 18 but we didn't have a close emotional attachment so the grief was different, yet again.

Losing my Grammie in November was like nothing I've ever experienced. I am so fortunate to have had such a close and loving relationship with this special lady. Not only was she my Grammie, sharing stories of her youth and from the past, but she was also my friend. A confidant. Someone I could talk to. Someone I could LAUGH with. We laughed a lot. She was quite funny.

I feel that I have mourned in gradual stages. Several years ago, I started to see signs of her aging. It became more difficult for her to get around and our trips in the car were less frequent. As superficial as it sounds, she stopped dying her hair and started to look older. She moved from her home of 60+ years to an apartment, to a retirement home and then to a nursing home. Our phone conversations were not as long and our visits were shortened by required naps. All of these stages gave me time to process what was happening and what was inevitable. Although I could not imagine what it would feel like, it wasn't as overwhelmingly crushing as I thought it might be. I'm grateful for the gradual grieving.

However, you never know when an emotional moment will hit you. While putting up the Christmas tree this year, we carefully removed ornaments from the box and hung them on the tree. And then I opened a box that brought out the tears. It was an ornament I had given Grammie many years ago. Last year she returned it to me to hang on my own tree. As soon as I saw it I was overwhelmed with sadness and started to cry. Cody wanted to know what was wrong, so I explained to him that this ornament was very special. I had given it to Grammie and she had given it back to me last year - as if she knew that she wouldn't be with us this year. He rubbed my arm and said "I'm sorry you're sad Emmy."

Today would've been Grammie's 90th birthday. The last two days have been difficult. Yesterday a memory popped up on my Facebook feed. It was a video I had put together for Grammie's birthday 2 years ago. As I watched the photos fade across the scene, I started to cry - right there in my office. Fortunately, no one else had arrived yet so I was alone, but it was a full out "ugly cry" as Oprah would call it. I think I'm lucky to have loved so much to have lost so much.

I will always miss this special lady but am incredibly grateful for the memories I will always carry with me.