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A letter

January 29th, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Health - (Comments Off on A letter)

Dear Cancer Care Ontario,

I just wanted to say thank you for the lovely letter I received today in my mailbox thanking me for getting a Pap Test at my annual physical last year. I have to say though that I haven’t actually read the letter all the way through.

You see, I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Of course, since the letterhead said ‘Ontario Cervical Screening Program’ I assume you know that among its many fun complications, PCOS also puts me at a higher risk of all sorts of cancers, including cervical cancer and ovarian cancer.

(The main way to manage my PCOS is to lose weight, but PCOS also makes it extra hard to do that. I know, super fun!)

So you see, when I got an envelope today I was confused as to why I was getting a letter from Cancer Care Ontario. When I opened the letter and saw the words ‘Ontario Cervical Screening Program’ and ‘Your Pap Test Result’ at the top my stomach dropped. I panicked as I read through the first paragraph which first introduced me to a doctor I cared nothing about, then thanked me for getting a pap and then, finally, at the end of the first paragraph, told me that my pap was, in fact, normal.

I get a pap because I have an increased risk. I also get a pap because I knew someone who had cervical cancer as a young woman. I tell other women to get their Pap Test because I believe in early detection.

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At first I was just a little bit angry. And then the tears came.

You see, there’s a pretty good chance that I’m going to get cancer at some point in my life. A pretty good chance that it will show up in my reproductive system somewhere.

I don’t know if this letter was meant to put the fear of God into me. I don’t know if you meant to make me think, even for a moment, that I had an abnormal result and that I might have cancer, but that was the effect of this letter.

And so, Cancer Care Ontario, I just wanted to let you know that this format is really poorly thought out. You buried the lede, as they say. You hid the information that I needed right off the bat. And I am left wondering if you send out similar, horrifying letters to those women who get back abnormal results, burying that fact in much less important information.

 

Today is #BellLetsTalk Day. There have been criticisms about the campaign, but overall it gets people talking openly about mental health, and it gets money to mental health services, two things that we desperately need to really help people.

My first mental health crisis came when I was about 15 or 16. I don’t know why or what changed, but I almost dropped out of high school. I always loved school. Hell, I’m almost 34 and I’m back in school again. I would not have been happy spending my life working retail – some people are really good at it, but I am not one of them.

I also had suicidal thoughts. I thought about killing myself when I was 16, again in my early 20s and most recently a few years ago when it really seemed like the kid would be much better off without me in her actual day to day life.

I’ve been on and off anti-depressants for these almost two decades. Different kinds, different doses. I know when the depression is ebbing and flowing. I know because I’ve examined it and realized. I’m lucky that I can do that. I’m very lucky that I now have a husband who is starting to read me as well. If Joe and I are opposites in anything it is our outlook. He is frustratingly optimistic and he would say the same about my pessimism.

Having someone to talk to, someone who might not entirely understand but who really cares, makes all the difference. And in the absence of that one person, I say talk to anyone and everyone. Because so many people will come out and say “hey, me too.”

Now that I have a daughter, I know that losing her would be like having my heart ripped out of my body. So I will talk to her, and I will talk to her friends if they need it, and I will listen and pay attention and fight for her like I’ve learned to fight against myself.

Talk is good.

In which I think too much

January 27th, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal - (Comments Off on In which I think too much)

The kid has started an intro to hockey class. She’s gone twice so far and I’ve gone to watch her. Both times I’ve been excited for her and also ended up in tears. And been totally confused by why I was crying.

The first time I thought it was worry – she hadn’t been on skates for about a year and she was falling a lot. I was worried that she would get frustrated and get upset with herself, even though she’s knew at this. I was worried she’d get hurt.

This week we got her out on the ice and she was doing better. She was skating faster and falling less. She was concentrating on the drills the coaches were doing and being very careful about completing them.

And then the tears came again.

I think it’s because she’s out there alone. She’s growing up. I think it’s because we’ve been waiting for this – waiting to see if she would like hockey, wanting her just to try it. It’s partly because the lessons are at the end of a very long day for me – I drop Joe off, have back to back classes then pick Joe up and head home just to leave again.

And part of it, I think, is the fear that she’s just out there because she knows how much we want her to be.

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But at the same time she has a smile on her face while she’s out there. She waves at us and gives us thumbs up, she’s smiling when she comes off and she told all of us that she scored too many goals to count during the mini game at the end. (Every kid got their own puck).

So overall, I guess the tears are tired tears of pride and worry and hope that she’s happy and having fun.

2015 – A better smelling home

January 26th, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Sponsored - (Comments Off on 2015 – A better smelling home)

We have a 9-year-old schnauzer. A few years ago he had an embolism that left him with some paralysis and while he has mostly recovered it has had some lasting effects. Like sometimes he pees in the house because he doesn’t know how badly he needs to go. Like a toddler. When he does that, it’s often right at the top of the first flight of stairs. So now we have a high traffic area with nasty spots and a smell that’s tough to get rid of. I want to get rid of the stains and the smell.

He's a good boy, really

He’s a good boy, really

 

All of this means that when I got the opportunity to try OxiClean’s Versatile Stain Remover I jumped at the chance. We’ve tried other stain removers but I can still see the difference between the stained carpet and the rest of the carpet. I was hoping this would be our answer, so I attacked.

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I mixed up the OxiClean powder with the instructed amount of water and soaked the dirtiest part of the carpet and then left it for a few minutes. When I went back and started patting the area with the towel I could tell that it smelled better, but I wasn’t sure if it was cleaning.

And then I noticed how dirty the towel was getting.

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Those are results

Those are results

OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover is a powder that you can dilute to use on a large variety of surfaces. In fact, when I’m done here I’m going to try it on our shower grout. You can also used it with your regular detergent to give it a little boost. I’m going to do our gym towels I think… This whole house could smell and look better by the end of the week.

You can read more about the stain remover and its many uses here. You can find OxiClean across Canada at Shoppers Drug Mart and Walmart. Check out their Facebook page for more great tips.

This post was brought to you by OxiClean Versatile Stain remover, however the images and opinions are my own. For more information please visit http://oxiclean.ca/.

 

The friend zone

January 25th, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting - (Comments Off on The friend zone)

First the kid’s friends were the kids of my friends. Then her friends were kids she went to preschool with, none of whom has ended up at her current school. Also she seems to remember very little about her year in preschool – I’ll mention one of her friends and she’ll look at me and said “who?”

Three was such a long time ago.

Now we have entered the world of junior kindergarten, which is a whole new thing. She takes the bus to school instead of me picking her up and I don’t have duty days to spend in her classroom. This year all I really know about her friends is the names she repeats most often. And I haven’t met most of the parents.

But it dawned on me one day that her JK friends could be her friends for at least the next few years, possibly for life if she finds really good ones – which she seems to have.

I have now learned the importance of the class list, because I lost our copy and am totally helpless when the kid asks for a playdate. I also have no way of touching base with the parents of the little girl that our little girl seems to have regular misunderstandings with.

 

The drama, it starts early.

Sometimes I miss the times when I got to pick who she played with based on which parents I wanted to hang out with…

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But it is nice to see her forming her own bonds and figuring out what she likes about other people and what maybe she doesn’t like. There are a whole lot of social lessons to learn – that not all friends are good friends, that sometimes someone might think they’re being funny but they’re not and maybe they just don’t realize.

It’s a world I still find difficult to navigate and I have to help her through it.

Get your brave on

January 21st, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting - (Comments Off on Get your brave on)

We’ve put the kid into a lot of activities since she was a baby. At first she and I did them together – swimming and gymnastics. There have been classes she does with Daddy, like all sorts of sports, t-ball and soccer. She’s carried on in some and some we’ve left behind. Her constants have been gymnastics in fall, spring and winter, swimming in summer and skating in winter.

Except this year instead of skating she’s taking Introduction to Hockey.

She wasn’t sure if she really wanted to play hockey, but we wanted her to try it out, and we certainly didn’t want to enrol her in a league if she wasn’t going to enjoy that, so I found this course through the City of Ottawa, we registered her and she got all the equipment she needed – some used, some for Christmas from Grandma and Grandpa and then a jersey and socks to top it all off.

At the end of last winter she was a great skater. Fearless. She would skate as fast as she could until she fell and then got right back up to do it again. I was so impressed with her, especially given my skating skills.

But when she headed out onto the ice for her first hockey lesson it had been almost a year since she had last skated and she was wobbly. She fell often. Watching her my eyes filled with tears because I worried she was going to get upset or frustrated, maybe burst into tears. I was so worried about her it was hard to watch.

But she just kept getting back up. Even though she was one of the slowest on the ice, even though she couldn’t quite figure out how to hold her stick. She just kept going. With a big smile on her face.

When she came off the ice I told her I was SO proud of her and she turned to me and said “I’m proud of me too.” And that made my heart swell even more.

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Last night she woke up after a bad dream and I brought her into our bed and snuggled with her. I took the chance to tell her again how brave I thought she was and all the reasons why – because what she had done was a hard thing for her put she pushed herself.

“I like doing hard things because then I get to be brave at them.”

That’s my girl. She’s smarter than me sometimes.

 

I am a big fan of the CBC and an even bigger fan of their children’s programming. I have been for a long, long time. My mother has told me that she opted to put me in afternoon kindergarten because it would have been too upsetting for me to miss Mr. Dressup every morning.

And if you don’t know Mr. Dressup stop right now and go and watch him.

There are episodes on YouTube.

We own the DVDs.

I was thrilled when my kid took a shining to Patty and Sid and Mamma Yamma – the Kids CBC team. And then last year a show started that I’m pretty sure I like as much as she does. The show that makes the whole family burst into song: The Adventures of Napkin Man.

Napkin Man is all about teaching kids how to deal with the emotions they have and adjusting the way they respond to situations.

We’ve been watching Napkin Man on TV, playing with him on the CBC website and now there are three ebooks that not only feature the same great stuff from the TV show, but my kid can use them in learning to read.

Reading Say Hello

Reading Say Hello

As soon as we finished the story in Say Hello she wanted to move on to Treasure for All. (We had already read Penguins A Go Go because penguins). I highly recommend Napkin Man in all his formats and I dare you not to break into the theme song once you fall in love with the show.

“If you’re happy, sad, scared or mad, these are all feelings I have had…”

Disclosure: I was compensated for posting about the new Napkin Man ebooks, but my opinions of them are my own. 

I like to clean the house for the New Year and one of the things I knew I had to do this year was to throw away all the makeup in my makeup bag. I’ve been  a reader of women’s magazine for years so I know that makeup should be trashed after 12 or 18 months. That meant that everything in my bag had to go because it’s all at least 4 years old.

Every once in a while I try to wear makeup but I have never really been successful. I never really learned how to put it on properly so whenever I do wear some I’m always worried that I look like a fool.

I think that’s also why I never really started wearing makeup – I didn’t want to show up at school one day looking like a clown. Basically I never really changed anything about myself during high school because I didn’t want everyone to suddenly notice that I was trying to be different.

Now I’m older and those same magazines are telling me that I should have started using eye cream at 30. I probably should have started using night cream too.

In reality it’s a good day when I remember to moisturize.

And I’m okay not wearing makeup because I’m a student and a mom. When I finish grad school and I’m networking and looking for jobs and I’m 35 then will it be time for me to get comfortable wearing makeup? Do I have to wake up early in the morning to shower and do my hair and makeup – none of which I spend much if any time on at all.

Believe it or not, not wearing makeup here

Believe it or not, not wearing makeup here

And how does a 35 year old woman learn?

So do you wear makeup? When did you start and how did you learn about it? What brands do you love?

 

#RBCFirstHome

January 16th, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Sponsored - (Comments Off on #RBCFirstHome)

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It’s been almost three years since Joe and I bought our first home together. It was a huge decision that we made very, very quickly. We went to the open house one Sunday and had signed the mortgage by the next Sunday. It was a big risk, especially since we didn’t have a realtor and neither did the sellers, but we had a good lawyer and a good mortgage broker.

Basically we were kind of stupid and very lucky.

It would have been wonderful to have the chance to chat with experts, which is an opportunity that RBC is giving any of those of you who are looking to buy your first home and be smarter than we were.

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You can submit any questions you have on Twitter using the hashtag #RBCFirstHome. The chat takes place Tuesday, January 20 between 8:30 and 9:30 pm. And participating in the chance gets you a chance to win 1 of 5 $100 gift cards.

I’ll be there to offer some of the lessons we learned during our adventure.

When she was five

January 13th, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting - (Comments Off on When she was five)

There are so many specific things that I remember about that day five years ago when they finally checked me into the hospital and Joe and I knew that we wouldn’t be leaving without a baby. There are so few specific things I remember about the last five years.

I remember leaving the hospital with the car seat, just walking out and driving home and very suddenly being a mother. I remember our first day home alone together. I spent a lot of it crying after I managed to pour water all over my laptop – my only connection to the outside world.

I remember when she rolled herself over for the first time and shocked the crap out of herself, banging her head on the floor. I remember the time she was in my lap and the dog jumped up and scratched very near her eye. And the time she pulled my coffee mug off the table and I thought she would be permanently scarred until we got to the ER and she was walking around like nothing had happened.

I remember the first time she laughed and all I wanted was to hear that sound again and again.

Now I see babies and I think it’s impossible she was ever that small. I don’t remember a time when she couldn’t talk. I know she babbled almost constantly when she was awake but I don’t remember what that sounded like.

I remember that she started crawling at six months and walking at 10 but I don’t remember when she got so fast.

I remember when kindergarten seemed so far away.

I don’t remember what it feels like for her to just fall asleep on my chest. That might be the one thing I miss about her being a baby. Because 4 has been amazing and I really believe she can only get better.

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