This is My Life

My Secret Addiction

I’ve been keeping a deep dark secret from all of you.  Oh I know I promise that I’ll share my life on this blog, but there are some things that are so embarrassing that I hide it.  Only my closest friends know my secret.

I’m an addict.

There I said it.

I, Jenn, am addicted to…. nail polish.


I know.  It’s so shameful.

And not just the polish.  I love the decals and foils and stamps and gems and … well… you get the idea.

Think I’m kidding?

polishwhore 750x498 My Secret Addiction

That’s not even all of it.  I still have a whole other box on top of that.


It’s my one weakness.  My one vice.  (well, that and chocolate, but I’m pretty sure I’d die without chocolate so it totally doesn’t count)

 I’ve always loved having my nails done.  It started with putting on polish with my mom.  By by early 20’s I was regular at the nail salon and committed to my acrylic and gel nails, which were more like claws.

Fun fact – I prefer to type with my nails rather than my fingers.  No idea why. 

Every couple of weeks I had a standing appointment with my nail tech for my fill and manicure.  Right up until Vista was born.

The day she was born, she was so tiny and scrawny I discovered that my fake nails got in the way of picking her up.  So I sat in my hospital room as she slept and slowly ripped them off, one by one.

That was the last time I had my nails oh so perfect.

Until I started playing around at home.

At first it was just a polish here, a drugstore decal there.  But then I discovered nail stamping.  And foils.  And nail art.  And did you know there are whole blogs dedicated to nails?  *swoon*

I know, if you ever doubted the fact that I’m crazy, there’s no doubt left now.

But, for me, this is a small and simple way, when you’re constrained on time, money, and energy to feel…well… pretty.

So here are my tips to pretty nails without the salon price:

1.) More expensive doesn’t always mean better.  I’ve used everything from Chanel to Essie to OPI to every drugstore brand under the sun.  Some of my favorite polish is the cheapest.  A lot of my current polishes are actually from Avon and I love them.

2) Don’t be afraid to try something new.  If you hate it, that’s why nail polish remover was invented.  And if need inspiration for new things to try, look at some nail blogs.  They’re filled with pictures and tutorials.

3) It doesn’t have to be perfect. This one took me a while to learn.  I wanted my nails to be absolutely perfect the first time.  Thankfully I finally grabbed a clue and realized that there are lots of ways to fix your polish mistakes.

    • Got polish on the edges of your fingers?  Let it dry then dip a q-tip in nail polish remover and get rid of it.
    • Smudged your nails?  This is a great time to pull out the nails stamps or decals.
    • Touched your nail to see if it was dry and left a finger print?  Sometimes gently licking your nail will smooth it out (I know, gross… not one I usually try).  The other thing to do is another layer of top coat.  You would be amazed what a good top coat can smooth over and hide.

Last night when I was doing my nails I totally managed to smudge the top of three of them.  Go me.  So I did some nail stamping on top and voila!  You don’t even notice the smudges!

stamped nails1 750x498 My Secret Addiction

(just because a lot of people have been asking me about this stamp the past few times I’ve worn it
its from a new 
Konad plate #M85.  If you’re new to nail stamping, there are starter kits you can get).
And if anyone wants to buy me a present I have my eye on the new Konad M84 plate
and the new magnetic polishes *hint* *cough*
Bil *hint* *cough*

4)If you don’t need the new nail polish / stamp plate / decals etc right away, order them online.  You would be amazed at the deals you can find (yes, even for Canadians).

But most of all… don’t forget to take the time for you!


**Disclaimer** The lovely people at were kind enough to enable my addiction and provided me with a new Konad Nail Art plate to try out. They carry both of the new Konad plates, M84 and M85, as well as starter kits for those who just want to try it out.

The opinions, however, are all mine as usual (including the part where I think the fact they ship for free in Canada, which no company ever does, is freakin’ awesome). 

Just an additional mention about Konad plates…. these are great doing kids nails.  I’ve been using them for years to put little flowers or stars on V’s nails. By the time you transfer the stamp polish to your nails it’s dry, so kids won’t smudge it and a quick top coat seals it on so it lasts as long as your polish does. It’s also not raised like a decal, so if you like the look of decals but not the feel of them on your nails, this is a good option.



Floors and dust and more dust and OMG did I mention the dust?

So yeah… about those floors.  I wrote last month about pulling up our carpet and putting down laminate.  And then all hell broke loose.

But the floors are done!  (YAY).

Here was our living room before.

DSC 0065 300x199 Floors and dust and more dust and OMG did I mention the dust?

Beautiful beige carpet.

But then we did this.

DSC 0071 199x300 Floors and dust and more dust and OMG did I mention the dust?

For the record, I hate ripping up carpet almost as much as I hate painting. Carpet staples are the debbil.

Vista didn’t react well to all the dust stirred up and so went to stay with my parents for a few days while the actual flooring installation was being done.  And it’s a good thing, because despite the effort to poly everything and keep things as clean as possible, laying down new floors creates a dust storm in your house (ie. don’t install new floors if you have any OCD cleaning issues).

This was our first glimpse of the new floors.  Notice the lovely layer of dust on top.  But I was still thrilled with how they came out. Even though it’s laminate, it has a hardwood look.  And I’m so glad we went with the wider planks.

DSC 0086 300x199 Floors and dust and more dust and OMG did I mention the dust?

So after they were done the floors we washed and scrubbed and vacuumed the best we could before bringing Vista back home.

We managed her asthma and the effect the dust was having on it OK until the guys came over that next Monday to finish the stairs.  The little bit of dust it created was just enough to send V over the edge and necessitate a nice little ambulance ride to the hospital.

We knew we couldn’t bring her back to the house after that until all the dust had died down and we had thoroughly cleaned everything.  My parents were gracious enough to let Vista and I stay at their place for the week.  Let me tell you, being back in my childhood room and sleeping in there with my daughter was weird.

We were contemplating going home Thursday morning when Vista informed us her ear was bugging her.  V’s not ever the type of kid to complain that something hurts, so when she does we tend to take it pretty seriously.  She complained just enough to get me to take her into the clinic and after that she never said a word about her ear hurting at all.  But the doc at the clinic confirmed a bad ear infection.  But then he listed to her chest and gave me one of those ‘doctor’ looks.  Apparently she had one heck of a wheeze still going on.

So we ended up a my parents a few extra days while Bil did some extra cleaning and V got a few more days of antibiotics and steroids on board.

Since we’ve been home, she seems to be OK.  But the floors are a bit of an adjustment.

Vista’s done a few slip and slides while trying to lean on the couch.

Our border collie is fine with the laminate (although he was very happy to have V home again).

DSC 0160 300x199 Floors and dust and more dust and OMG did I mention the dust?

My shepherd, however, hates the new floors, preferring now to reside in the front entryway or V’s play tent when she brings it out.

DSC 0171 300x199 Floors and dust and more dust and OMG did I mention the dust?

(I think the pink brings out his eyes).

So, yeah.  It’s been an adventure.  Nothing could ever be simple, not even putting in new floors.

But I am so glad we had them done (and SO glad we didn’t attempt to do them ourselves).

I’m thrilled with how they look.  Now, I just have to get those walls painted… and redo the tile on the fireplace… and paint the kitchen…and… win the lottery evidently.


DSC 0179 300x199 Floors and dust and more dust and OMG did I mention the dust?


DSC 0199 199x300 Floors and dust and more dust and OMG did I mention the dust?

You Can’t Know

We’re in that period of time where most of our friends are still in that “how big will our family be” mode.

There are lots of babies being born which is great for me.  I get to hug and snuggle to my hearts content and then give them back when they start to stink.  icon biggrin You Cant Know

But as we watch our friends through their pregnancies, we sometimes struggle to understand.

Especially when it comes to the screening tests.

We’ve known several people who have gone through the Down’s ‘scare’, and had to have that discussion around whether to abort.

First off let me say I have nothing against abortion.  I believe every woman should have the right to control their reproduction.

Where I struggle is when the decision is made because they don’t want to bring a baby into this world who will have a ‘poor’ quality of life.

I want to scream at them “YOU DON’T KNOW!  A TEST ISN’T GOING TO TELL YOU THAT!”  *sob*

I’ve known children with Downs that is fairly mild and they are otherwise perfectly healthy.  The grow into wonderful people with a unique perspective on life and those of us who have had the pleasure of meeting them are so much richer for it.

Had we done those screens when I was pregnant with Vista, everything would have come back completely normal.  None of Vista’s issues would have shown up on those tests.  And yet we live a life filled with doctors and specialists and hospital visits and therapists and aides.

You don’t know.  You cannot predict if a child will be born healthy.  Of all the mom’s in my special needs group, exactly zero of them knew they were having a special needs child before they were born.

And had we known, ahead of time, about Vista’s brain malformation we still would have had her.

Yes, it’s sometimes hard having a special needs kid.  But?  There are the rewards.

I have learned a patience and understanding I never had before.

I have learned never to tell my child what she cannot do, because she will always prove me wrong. The only limits in her world are those placed on her by those who don’t understand that she is amazing and doesn’t know that she’s not supposed to be walking and talking, never mind running and reading.

I have learned not to judge people with disabilities.  They are people… with feelings.  And disabled does not mean mentally incompetent or unaware.  Quite frankly I’ve met more people with disabilities who have more capacity for caring and compassion than those so called ‘normal’ people in my life.

I’ve learned more about the medical world than I ever thought I would.  I don’t rush my child to the doctor for every sniffle like a lot of parents do.  We’ve learned to discern what’s a cold, what’s a flu, what’s croup, what’s asthma, and when medical care is really necessary.  A lot of parents could do with that training.

I have learned what it means to be a friend.  I’ll be the first one to admit that I used to be a complete flake.  Now, I forge friendships not a slew of passing acquaintances.   Want to know if you have real friends?  Face a medical emergency and see who’s still standing at the end.  I guarantee it won’t be the people you expect.

Having a special needs child has expanded our world in ways we never imagined.  I am so glad I didn’t throw away this opportunity to grow as a person when the universe handed it to me.




My House Is In Chaos And I’m So Happy

We’ve been talking about ripping out all the carpets in the house and replacing them with … something… for a long time now.  It turns out have to black dogs and beige carpets really doesn’t mix.  Who knew.

Those beige carpets end up being a lovely shade of grey most of the time, despite vacuuming daily (twice a day when the dogs are really shedding).

Needless to say, I loathed them with a hate I can’t even explain.

Add to that, Vista’s allergies that would have her breaking out in hives if she played on certain spots on the carpet (we have no idea… it was weird – and not related to the animals.  She hugs and loves on them all the time with no issues) and it was time for the carpets to go buh-bye.

I mentioned to my parents that we were thinking about redoing the floors and they were quick to recommend the same person who had put hardwood in their house.  He was a good friend of one of my brothers and he really had done a beautiful job in Mom & Dad’s house.  I promised to call him… at some point.

A week passed and I still hadn’t found the time to call, when my brother called me.  Did I remember his friend Matt who did floors?  Uhhhhh… yeah.  Well he needed a new website and would I give him a call and discuss it.

Well thank you universe for the kick in the ass.

So, I gave Matt a call.  And tomorrow I’m getting new laminate installed!!  Woohoo!!

We discussed going the hardwood route, but Matt nixed it because of the size of our horses dogs.  Cork was another option, but I’m just not a big fan of the look.  So laminate it was.

This past weekend was spent ripping up carpet and underlay, pulling out so many staples I lost count, and picking up the laminate.

I’ve got blisters from pulling out staples, scrapes from the baseboard nails, my knees are shot from kneeling on plywood for hours, and my arms are covered in bruises from hauling in the boxes of laminate into the house.

And it’s all so freakin’ worth it.  I am soooooooo excited for my new floors (I know, you can’t tell).

As soon as my house is back to some semblance of normal, I’ll post some before and after pics.

If you live in Calgary or surrounding area and need new hardwood or laminate flooring installed, definitely give Matt a call.



Three and a half years ago we began our foray into the special needs world. Our steps were slow and tentative, not knowing where this path would take us.

One of the first families I met was Tasha and her daughter Jenna. I still remember walking into the physio room at the Children’s hospital in the city and seeing the halo of blond curls that is Jenna’s trademark. We had no idea, then, that our girls would become fast friends.

A few months later I walked into the building where the local physio/support group for special needs kids was being held in our small town. I was surprised to see the familiar blond halo of curls there. I had no idea that Tasha and Jenna lived out in our area, since we had first met them in the city, but it was reassuring to know at least one family there.

Over the years the girls have grown together. We’ve watched them learn to walk, learn to talk, learn to run, and learn to get into enourmous amounts of mischief for two little girls who look so innocent.

They started preschool together last year, happy to play with the other kids in the class, but also happy to sit and hold hands together during circle time.

As the girls became friends, so did Tasha and I. A bond formed over diagnosis’s, doctors, and treatment plans. It was comforting to have someone I could compare notes with, commiserate with, and celebrate the milestones with.

For the past few years, Tasha’s mom has run our special needs group. She is the rock we all turn to. And Vista knows her as Grandma. She is as much family as anyone we’re related to.

Tasha’s boys go to the same school as Vista. They’ll always stop to say hi to her and give a little brotherly hug.

Tasha and her family have become an important part of our world.

But that world was rocked when Tasha’s daughter ended up in the hospital on last Friday.

A hospital stay for Jenna, in and of itself, is nothing unusual. But it was quickly apparent that this wasn’t going to be her normal get-sick-crash-bounce-back routine.

Since last Friday, Jenna has been in the ICU at the Children’s hospital. She’s on a ventilator. She’s flat-lined several times and been resuscitated several times. And everyday seems to bring a new round of complications. Pneumonia, hMPV, bleeding in the lungs, pulmonary hypertension, sepsis, low hemoglobin, the list goes on and on.

Jenna is a fighter, but she is sick. So very sick right now. And no one is sure if her little body can stand up against the onslaught it’s under.

So if you have a moment, could you send some good thoughts, positive vibes, and prayers their way?

They have a long road ahead of them and they could use all the support they can get.

Paging Dr. Freud

Vista, at the ripe old age of 4, is a master manipulator.

She’s smart.  Waaaay too smart.  And she knows exactly how to play people.

I watch her do it with her therapists when she’s not in the mood to work with them.  She’ll play dumb, bat her eyelashes, cock her head to the side, smile, and give a ‘I don’t know’ shrug.   At which point we’ve now trained her therapists to glance over at me, where I can give a slight nod to indicate ‘yes, she knows this.  She’s just fucking with you right now.’

The other day she was throwing a fit while getting ready for school.  It was only 7:30am and I had already had it.  So I looked at her and told her to drop the attitude.  She stopped, cocked her head to the side and gave me the biggest smile.  In return, I rolled my eyes at her.  “Nice try.  That might work on some people, but it doesn’t work on Mama.”

Without missing a beat, she let the smile drop and told me, “It works on Daddy.”


Yeah, my kid’s no dummy.

This morning she was being a typical four year old, running around and not listening to a thing we had to say.  After 5 hours of this, Bil was understandably tired of it and told her “Enough.  You need to start listening to Mommy and Daddy.  You haven’t been listening at all this morning!”

Again, without missing a beat, she turned to him with a straight face and asked him “Why do you think that is?”

That *boom* you heard was Bil’s head exploding.



What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate

It’s hard when you’re trying to discipline your child by telling her that she’s lost TV privilages for the rest of the night and she helpfully suggests you should take away her dinner too.


Trying to figure out a way to discipline a special needs kid who is completely oblivious to the fact they’re being disciplined?  Well, lets just say it’s an exercise in futility.   No matter what you say or do, there’s only one loser in the situation and it’s ALWAYS the parent.

It’s hard not to get even more frustrated trying to get them to understand they’ve done something wrong, when it’s obvious they have a complete lack of understanding around the entire situation.

Sometimes it makes me wonder if my kid will grow up to be a complete sociopath.  How can you have remorse when you don’t get that you’ve done anything wrong?

All this came up today after she purposely broke another one of her toys.  Why?  Because she didn’t want it anymore.

This is a common occurrence and it frustrates us to no end.  We’ve tried to explain to her that if she doesn’t want to play with a toy, that she can bring it to us and we can give it to another little boy or girl who doesn’t have toys.  But that hasn’t yet sunk in.  We’ve tried making her throw the toy out after she’s broken it, but she’ll happily do it.  She just isn’t that attached to anything.

And midway through the discussion on why she broke her toy, she burst into hysterics because she wanted her old white bed back. Yeah.  Six months after we redecorated her room and moved her into a big-girl bed and we’re still experiencing fallout from it.

Oy.  There are days when being a special needs parent is, well…special.


This and That

So much going on and yet I still manage to avoid posting here.

There was that whole Halloween thing.  We carved pumpkins.

halloween This and That

Guesses on who picked out which pattern?

Vista’s doing well in pre-school.  She still has her aide with her and I really think that’s made all difference.  There are still challenges though.  There always will be.  But there easy to forget when your kid brings home school pics that look like this:

Vista schoolpic This and That

We’re still waiting to find out when her spinal MRI is.  If we get it by next summer, I’ll be thrilled.  In the mean time we have to check in with the doctor once a month so he can check her reflexes to see if they’ve magically returned.

We’re still waiting on results from genetic tests too.  It’s been a year and a half.  They’re telling me it could be another year still.  Two and a half years for one test.  Awesome.

I’m finding when you’re a parent of a special needs kid that patience is a virtue.  It just doesn’t happen to be one of MY virtues.

Tricky Treats

Part of the fun of watching your kids growing up is watching them become more aware of holidays and the excitement that brings.

This is the first year that Vista’s really talked about Halloween.  She’s over the moon whenever she sees a pumpkin (which might include trying to walk off with the pumpkins decorating the local coffee shop… oops!).

But I’m discovering that the older your kids get, the more work Halloween becomes.

First the costume.

Vista originally wanted to be a butterfly or a lady bug.  And because I’m the obliging parent I dutifully looked for those costumes.  And proceeded to veto both.  Call me crazy, but I don’t think my daughter needs to wear a mini-skirt tutu to preschool.

We finally found a costume that satisfied both of us (cute enough for her, decent enough for me – with the option of being worn over a winter coat… welcome to Halloween in Canada).

Enter Little Red Riding Vista.

littleredridingvista 498x750 Tricky Treats

Either that or she’s a level 60 mage, casting a spell.  We’re not sure which.

Anyway, with the costume issue checked off, I moved to the next thing on my list.  Treats for her to bring to preschool.  Which as any parent with kids know, this is a WHOLE lot harder than it sounds.

I was planning on doing up little treat bags for each of her classmates.  Simple in theory.  Until you factor in that Vista’s friend, J,  who is also her classmate, has a severe anaphylactic nut allergy.  And when I say serious, I mean I’ve seen this kid react after touching something that had been played with by another child who’d eaten peanut butter earlier in the day.


So I checked with J’s mom to see what candy I could bring.  I mean, surely there was lots of candy out there that’s peanut free… I just had to avoid the peanut chocolate bars, right?

Uh…yeah… wrong.

I had no idea that Halloween is so dangerous for kids with peanut allergies.  J’s mom knew of only a few candies that were safe for these kids.

So off I trooped to the local store.  And I read label, after label,… after label.  Peanuts, traces of peanuts, may contain nuts.

*headdesk headdesk headdesk*

Are you kidding me?

In this day and age everything has nuts in it??

Back home I turned to the great Google in a quest for peanut free candy.

Low and behold, I find out that Canadian company, Allen Candy (their Easter bunnies have been a staple in our house for a loooong time) makes peanut free candy!  YAY!!

They have Allan Intense Jubes & Jellies, Allan Chewy Rascalz and Allan Fruit Buddies*, all peanut free and enough to make great little treat bags for pre-school kids.  Double YAY!

Now that that’s out of the way, the only thing left is to top last year’s jack-o-lanterns…

026 750x498 Tricky Treats

* For those of you also looking for peanut-free Halloween treats, Allen Candies can be found in retailers like Wal-Mart and Loblaws



Disclosure – I am participating in the Allan Candy Company program by Mom Central Canada. I received compensation for my participation in this campaign. The opinions on this blog are my own.



As The Seasons Change

Ahhhh… October. The changing of the leaves, the return of the pumpkin spice lattes, pulling the winter wardrobe out of storage…

What? Not everyone gets to experience the joy of packing away all the summer clothes and pulling out your winter outfits that have been packed away for the past…ummm…three months…?

It’s SO! MUCH! FUN! *cough*

I just love having to go through every single shirt and figure out if it still fits Vista or if it can go in the donate pile. Love it, I tell you! I can’t think of anything I’d rather do with an hour of my life. *sob*

Vista on the other hand is beside herself with joy. She’s a firm believer in the theory that a girl can never have too many clothes.

Every shirt she pulls out needs to be ooooooohhh’d and awwwwwww’d over.  Then it has to be hugged.  Like you would hug a long lost friend.  Then she has to exclaim “Oh! My favorite shirt!  I’ve missed it SO MUCH!!” over Every. Single.  Shirt.

It’s a loooooong process.

Don’t even get me started on the absolute elation when she discovered the pile footie pajamas.  She’s a footie girl, through and through.  There might have been squeeing  (on her part) and a few advil popped (on my part).

On the bright side, since she so excited about the new-ish clothes, she’s more than happy to help put everything away in the drawers.   Child labour for the win!

The wardrobe change over does tend to highlight exactly how much your kid has grown over the summer, though.

I put a size 5/6 shirt on her this morning, thinking it would still be fine on my 4 year old.  Uhhh, yeah… that would be a negative. Unless of course I was looking to send her to school in a belly bearing crop top.  Oy.

I am thanking my lucky stars I stocked up on a bunch of size 7/8 winter clothes when they went on sale last spring, otherwise I’d be taking out another mortgage just to keep this kid in clothes.

Have you started the great clothes swap with your kids yet?



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