by Karla ° Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Sarah is exactly the kind of woman you can only hope marries into the family. Warm, caring, chalked full of etched-in family values. She’s bright, eager and well respected in her ever-advancing career.

I just remember them always being so…happy, you know? Young. Vibrant. In love. Echoes of laughter and almost of a decade of commitment reverberating inside the warmth of summer’s evening walls. Embracing under the orange glow of a setting sun.

And now here two broken-hearted families stand, backed up against a wall of issues that are not ours to face, but standing directly in the middle of two lives that mean the world and back to us.

As I slid between the bed sheets last night, it was hard not to feel the weight of sadness for my brother and his wife; they cupping the shattered remains of a broken dream in their hands while I gently cupped a warm cheek of the man of my dreams in my palm, silently clinging to this mystery called love.


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Birthday party number two
by Karla ° Monday, November 24, 2008
Because Nate was born on December 22nd, we celebrate his birthday in November, if nothing else, than to make sure we remember to wrap his birthday presents in balloon-covered wrapping paper, and his Christmas presents in red and green and rosy-cheeked Santa paper.

Also, both Mark’s and my family live in a Snow Belt region and travel anytime after the first snow fall, which often happens in October, can be iffy and unpredictable at the best of times.

Observe Exhibit A, a recent snap snot taken by my Mom of her yard:

Exhibit A. Also why I no longer live in Penetang

This year’s birthday party was very different from last year though, in that it was a totally low-key and quiet affair with just the Grandparents, Nate’s Aunt, Uncle and his Cousin, who, by the way, speaks both English and French, but mostly French and I just about melted into a mushy accent-loving puddle over how adorable he sounds. "KarrrrrrrlA! Ma tante KarrrrrrrlA"

Unlike last year, there was no house bursting at the seams with people and no pulsing fridge filled with hors d’oeuvres that needed to be either baked or cooked or cut or chopped or assembled and hand crafted like some sort of origami food art. Nope. This time I was all over pizza and burgers and nacho’s and salsa and the most giant chocolate cake I could find. Simple and easy. And oh so much more fun for the kids, right? I mean, at the age of one, Nate still pretty much preferred breast to anything else and his party was more about making sure relatives we barely see could meet him, but now that he’s almost two, it's time to celebrate toddler style and bust out the junk food. And besides, Nate wouldn't eat anything green, especially in a spinach wrap because these days it's all about the roni (pepperoni) and junk food. Which I don’t fully understand considering Mark and I are pretty good about eating healthy. I naively kind of thought that Nate would be like that too, you know, by default, and that the occasional treat would be fine. But all it took was one taste of a McDonald’s French fry for the junk food light bulbs to cast an shadow doom and gloom over the vegetable eating center of his brain.

Clearly, the cream-filled chocolate cake was a big hit.

And then his sugar high died resulted in this:

And then this: wild-eyed jonsing for chocolate icing pupils and excited toddler speak demanding more cake!

Me: “How about a banana?”
Nate: “Cake?”
Me: “Apple?”
Nate: “Cake?”
Me: “Ummmm....cheese and crackers?”

And then his bottom lip started to quiver and because it was his birthday party I let him eat his way into a 12 hour coma of sugar induced sleep.


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Interpretive art
by Karla ° Wednesday, November 19, 2008
When it comes to decorating, Mark and I sometimes see eye to eye, and sometimes we, and by we, I mean me, just go ahead and buy stuff and then discreetly place said “stuff” somewhere in the house and wait for Mark to notice. Which may or may not ever happen. This tactic usually works well, except for the time that I brought home 17 new picture frames that required a laser level, another level, a protractor, the Patience of Job and the intervention of a divorce lawyer to get them hung.

So the other day I came across this:

It’s a 36x46” canvas that I bought for Nate’s bedroom. Mark doesn’t like it because it’s not an accurate representation of the world. He thinks the artist is a bigot for labelling Canada and the Unites States as countries but then portraying everything else in the world as a continent. Except for the random representation of the state of Alaska. He could not understand how one state warranted so much canvas space and then made me check to make sure this painting was not endorsed as part of Sarah Palin’s election campaign.

And because I perpetually have my head in the clouds and live in a land of ribbons and puppy dog tails and toddler speak and never-ending pails of poop-filled diapers, I got defensive and was like, “Um Um? But look at all the pretty colours! And cute little Australian koala bear. Oh, and dude, how can you not love the giant fish that is larger than the entire country of the Unites States of America?

So what say you Internet? Fun art for a kid’s bedroom? Or, gross misrepresentation of the world that will eternally mess up my child’s sense of geography so bad that one day he will travel to China in search of gargantuan containers filled with take-out food?

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The Great Photo Challenge
by Karla ° Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Angie, photography guru and personal photo trainer extraordinaire (seriously, it’s like having your very own personal trainer, except for photos, and she’s free. Also? She won’t yell at you for eating cookies) is hosting the Great Photo Challenge.

One randomly selected winner will receive their choice of either a $100 B&H Photo gift certificate or a $100 Future Shop gift card. All you have to do is snap of a photo of a cool landmark in a unique and interesting way. Think cool angles, sun cast shadows, city skylines, moonlit towers, endless skyscrapers, fancy Romanesque-style churches, etc.

Although I’m not eligible to win, this is my entry. For this shot, I laid on the ground to try and capture the endless height of the windmill.

Ok, I'm just going to go ahead and stop talking about the time I laid in the dirt at a Nuclear Power Park to take a picture of a giant windmill and how I'm now blaming all the extra radiation in my brain for the time I went to Wal-Mart and waited in a line up for like, ever, before the cashier rang up $187.56 worth of god only knows what totally unnecessary stuff was in that pile because I swear I only went to buy diapers only to discover that I had left my wallet in my camera bag, which was at home, which caused me to totally want to fall over and go to sleep and pretend like it was all just a horrible Wal-Mart nightmare. But then I remembered that shopping there IS a nightmare and, um, oh, right! I'm supposed to stop talking because $100 gift card is up for grabs, and in the words of my personal photography hero herself, Go! Click! Upload! Send! Win! Yay!

* UPDATE: Correction notice. The contest prize is your choice of a $100 gift card from either B&H Photo or Future Shop.


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Official diagnosis
by Karla ° Tuesday, November 11, 2008
We’d been in the hospital for almost six hours before Nate succumbed to his exhaustion and fell asleep in my arms, mouth open in a graceful arc of calmed slumber; the pureness of his salt-pale skin and mile-long lashes contrasting against the rhythm of his pounding heart thump-thump-thumping to the artificially medicated beat of lung-opening drugs.

Breathe sweet baby, breathe.

We weren’t at our regular hospital. We tried to go there after Nate’s provider called, concerned about his breathing, but the parking lot was full, and there was a line-up five cars deep to get in. Looking back at Nate in his carseat, I knew we couldn’t wait. His breathing was laboured, evidenced by the tugging and indrawn concave hollow of his trachea, his cough was worsening to the point of retching and throwing up and he was lethargic. All of the signs we’ve been warned about that require immediate hospital care.

Suddenly feeling overwhelmed with concern, and wishing I could stall time to figure out what do to next, I made an illegal turn on a one-way street and headed to the closest hospital in the next city, with Nate’s provider on the phone as my directional guide.

I felt like I was in a fog on contradiction hell. We’ve been gently warned that Nate's recurring breathing issues are probably tell-tale signs of asthma, but how could that be? Asthma does not run my family. Or Mark’s. And we’re both pretty athletic. Asthma just doesn’t make sense. Surely there’s another explanation?

I pulled up to the hospital, hands trembling with worry and mind overwhelmed with awe at the enormity and newness of the entire Emergency Room process. In place of manually written forms and retro-coloured walls were computers and floors sparkling under the glow of fluorescently lit modern décor and seating. And when I told them that Nate was there because I felt he needed another Ventolin mask treatment, the Respiratory Therapist administered the exact same medication that I had in my purse.

“Oh! Aren’t you going to do a mask treatment? We usually visit the hospital in Ajax, and they give him the misting Ventolin mask when his breathing gets like this.”

“No, we don’t do that here,” she replied matter of factly. “Studies show that proper diagnosis, treatment, and use of the aero chamber and puffers are just as effective.”

And cue me feeling like a total asshat.

The ER doctor wanted Nate to have another X-ray to rule out pneumonia, based on his history, and I refused it. X-rays make me nervous and in his young life, I wholeheartedly feel that Nate’s had more than his fair share of them. But then, while trying to reassuringly rub my arm, he guilted me into it, saying that he understood my hesitation, but given Nate's history and current symptoms, it was only prudent. Reluctantly agreeing, Nate and I both donned our reproductive part-protecting lead aprons and proceeded with his chest X-Ray.

The results, as described by the doctor, were totally delivered with an eyebrow-raising I TOLD YOU SO and concerns of pneumonia. Pediatrics was paged to take over his case.

And friends, this is where I am finally breathing a sigh of relief because the Pediatrician that we saw explained that chest X-rays in an infant of his size are half art and half science to interpret and that Nate does not have pneumonia and after almost a half hour of discussing his history, Nate has officially been diagnosed with asthma.

While I’m not jumping for joy about this diagnosis, I am relieved that we finally have an official diagnosis and can start proactively treating Nate under the guidance of a pediatrician who has welcomed him into his personal practice to monitor him on a regular basis in a non Emergency Room setting where random doctors with random opinions are dishing out random advice about how to medicate our son.

We drove home from the hospital under the falling darkness of night and as I glanced over at Nate, the moon shinning like fire in his hair, I remembered something that I once read from a very wise woman. It’s so simple, but so true.

Don’t try harder, try different.

And different, by chance, at a different hospital really, is what we did. Now, for the first time in a very long time, I feel OK. I feel like Nate is finally going to be OK.

We have an official diagnosis, at least, and we can proceed to treat it as such.

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Failed incentive
by Karla ° Sunday, November 9, 2008
Trying to make eating as fun as possible for a kid whose been back at the hospital for his breathing and who has barely eaten in days.

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by Karla ° Friday, November 7, 2008
I can’t believe that an entire week has gone by since I last posted. I have so much catching up to do and I barely know where to start. In the past few weeks I have traveled half way across this province and back, completed several really great photo shoots, weathered the fallout of my child’s first official sugar high, and is it just me, or did everyone else’s kid become totally insane and suddenly refuse to eat anything but chocolate bars?

I also won $300 in free gas after winning a contest I barely remember entering. Apparently I submitted a photo and wrote a funny story about our family van. God, I drive a van. Ten years ago I would have laughed at my maternal self trying to picture that one, too.

A photo I took of one of my client's babies won an award, which I'm excited about. That client is now relishing in about a thousand dollars worth of sweet baby swag.

And this month I’m running my first official photography advertising campaign, and I’m literally swamped and drowning in work and enlisted the help of my mother to come and visit for the week.

Also, we have a very sick kid on our hands. Breathing issues. Again. I know!

Where to start? Where to start?

Maybe telling the story of my triumphant return home from my road trip is a good starting point.

Sadly, my trip was cut short. B and I were having a lazy morning catching up and gossiping: her son curled close to her breast, looking angelic under the glow of an above incandescent light while my little whirlwind devil busied himself with emptying every single jar and can from her cupboards when we heard the deep rumble of her husband’s truck pulling in the driveway echoing throughout the house signalling his return home.

“Did you guys hear about the storm on the way?”


“Yeah, Winter storm.”

“You’re shitting us right?”

“No, seriously. Up to a foot of snow and severe winds are on the way right now.”

B lives in the country on a stunning 50 acres of land. While visiting, I kept glancing out of her giant picturesque window and gazing longingly into the orange and vermillion leaf-filled woods pondering growing up with a forest right outside my doorstep; a childhood filled with exploring under the sun glinted glow of a tree-topped ceiling, piling fallen trees to create secret hide-a-way forts, and when the chill of winter twists through leafless woods, a place to thread new adventures on a blanket of even white snow. Nate is growing up in a tiny fenced yard shared with a giant dog and a neon plastic slide. It’s hard not to notice the difference.

But damn, you know? I hate driving in the snow. Especially the first major snow fall of the season because even though we go through the change of seasons every single year, there are always those people who forget their brains and common sense at home and fail to slow down.

And so, to avoid winter driving conditions, I decided to leave early, and just as we pulled out of the driveway, snow had begun to fall. We arrived home to gorgeous sunny weather, narrowly escaping this scene, which B emailed me the next morning:

What we didn’t escape from, however, was that while we were gone, Samson went and got himself a severe case of separation anxiety diarrhea, and left a giant pile of shit for me in the hallway, a trail of shit in Nate’s bedroom, and another welcoming pile in the office.

And because Samson is half dog and half the size of a cow, he has enormous sized shit. Like, so enormous, I clogged the toilet cleaning up after him and narrowly missed a doggy diarrhea overflow by a fraction of a millimetre. Sighing with relief for avoiding THAT mess, I closed the lid on the toilet seat and went back to cleaning the carpets.

And all of a sudden, over the roar of the steam cleaner, I heard Nate screaming. I ran over to see what was wrong, and even though deep down I knew this was one of those moments that I could so totally tell all of his future girlfriends, I just wanted to die and go to a Heaven that did not include cleaning up shit because Nate had flushed the toilet and was standing in a stream of overflowing doggy diarrhea-filled toilet water.

Reacting, I ran to the linen closet and grabbed an arm load worth of pristine white towels to soak up the mess.

People, I now understand why my mom feels compelled to ask every time she visits why I have all white towels with a kid in the house.

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