Dollar Store Toddler Easter Basket Ideas & Why I Didn’t Mind Spending $50

Sometimes, I don’t even recognize myself.

Easter is going to be lit this year.

See, normally I couldn’t care less about Easter (minus the four-day weekend and chocolate everything), as our little family is a big ol’ pile of sinners. I also typically loathe feeling obligated to buy stuff that we don’t need whenever a big holiday rolls around.

But two weeks ago, when I walked into The Dollar Store for dish sponges and came out with $50 worth of Easter bounty for my two year old — I realized that I’m no longer the person I used to be.

I’m one of those moms now.

And for the first time since I was a toddler myself, I’m actually excited for Easter.

Dad & I rocking Easter hard in the 80s.

I finally get it.

I finally get what all the fuss was about. You know, all those times when your parents used to say, “One day, you’ll understand.”

There’s something remarkable about watching your child experience something for the first time.

That first taste of chocolate cake on his first birthday.

Opening presents from Santa Claus on Christmas morning.

Hunting for Easter Eggs after the Easter Bunny stops by during the early days of spring.

I feel lucky, because this is one of those things that not everyone gets a shot at. That isn’t lost on me. These are those rare moments when being a parent stops being scary and frustrating and exhausting, and for a brief moment, you remember.

Through their eyes, you suddenly remember when things were easy and simple and full of magic. You remember the time before — before life showed up and the clouds rolled in. Before you knew what worry and stress and poor life decisions and property taxes were.

So yeah, I take it back.

I am not sorry, for any of this.

Now let’s find out what I spent my money on when I should really be saving for the new baby.

WHAT’S IN MY TODDLER’S EASTER BASKET

1. Paw Patrol MASHEMS

$3.50 each.

For the longest time, my son was absolutely mental for Paw Patrol. He’s mostly moved on to Thomas the Tank Engine now, but once in a while, he’ll decide he’s interested in the adventures in Adventure Bay again, which is why I grabbed a few of these weird, gross little things. MASHEMS are basically just squishy, stretchy toys that vaguely resemble a beloved cartoon character. Mash away, kids.

2. Thomas & Friends Blind Bag

One surprise engine, $1.50.

Thomas is the flavour of the week, and for $1.50, you can’t go wrong. These toys are perfect for hiding inside of eggs, too. Which beloved Island of Sodor weirdo is inside? I can’t wait to find out.

3. VARIOUS Easter Themed Toddler Activities

Paint book, $2.50 | Easter Themed Stickers, $2.75

This one checks off two boxes. Not only are these full of tacky Easter cheer, they’re also good for fine tuning those adorable little toddler motor skills, and a lot better than slapping an iPad in front of him for an hour when I inevitably need a mommy time out. I apologize in advance to my mother-in-law, who will probably be scrubbing tiny paint smudges off of her floors and peeling stickers off her walls for the remainder of the weekend.

4. Random Boy Toys & Book

Book, $3.00 | Bubbles, $1.25 | Sunglasses, $1.25 | Hot Wheels, $3.00 | Bouncy Balls, $1.25 |            Paw Patrol Playing Cards, $2.00 | Washable Markers, $1.50 | Creepy Bugs, $1.25

This pack has everything: reading and art supplies, the need for speed, gross bugs, and cool shades. This collection should keep him busy for around five minutes. Ah, five minutes alone on the toilet — bliss!

5. Different sized Plastic Eggs & Basket

Basket, $1.50 | Plastic Eggs, $3.00

Rain or shine, this kid is going hunting for hella eggs this weekend. I’m more excited for this than the time I got to sleep past 6 a.m. (that was this morning).

6. Candy and Chocolate

Maynards Gummies, $1.50 | Jellybeans, $1.25 | Chocolate Bunny, $1.25 | Chocolate Eggs, $2.50

Obligatory. I could have gone way more overboard than this, but the important thing here is that this is still way too much candy for a two year old to consume on his own, so he’ll need some assistance. I grudgingly accept this role.

Happy Easter everyone, and remember the true reason for the season: the opportunity to buy your child’s love.

I’m Tired of Talking About It: Do I have Gestational Diabetes Or Not?

Are you as sick of reading about my potential gestational diabetes diagnosis as I am of writing about it?

You’re in luck, because this is the last time either of us have to endure it.

After a week of officially freaking out (mostly sulking), not sleeping (there’s a shocker) and eating healthy (barf-o-rama), I am happy–and frankly, a little shocked–to report that I do not have gestational diabetes.

Far from it, actually.

According to science, my fat, disgusting pregnant body is completely normal when it comes to insulin production and blood sugar regulation.

My Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) Results

So what gives?

Why all the unnecessary stress over nothing?

Only around 75% accurate

Last week, my midwife–rather unconvincingly–tried to assure me that the first test I spectacularly failed–the Glucose Challenge Test (GCT)–is actually only around 75% accurate.

Of course, I couldn’t take what a grown woman in overalls was telling me at face value without conducting my own research.

So I did, and it turns out she was right.

According to a study* conducted in 2012, if there are 100 women that actually have gestational diabetes, 74 will have a positive GCT test, and the other 26 won’t know that they have it. The 77% “specificity” means that if 100 random women test positive for GD, 23 of them (including me in this case) don’t actually have it.

Yo, science: listen up. There has to be a better option than putting us through this crap. On behalf of fat, disgusting pregnant women everywhere–please come up with a better plan.

I’ll leave you to it while I power through this box of Oreo thins over here.

No calls.

*Shoutout to my new friend and fellow toddler mom Sarah, who helped me make sense of the study. Women & Science, y’all. 

The Two-Hour Glucose Tolerance Test: Highlights, Lowlights and Vern

Because I’m a spectacular failure and soared well over the threshold for my one-hour Glucose Challenge Test (GCT) last week, I went back to the lab today for a second screening for gestational diabetes — the dreaded two-hour Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT).

As predicted, to pass the time, I once again live-blogged the entire thing.

But first, a little background.

WHY THE TWO TESTS?

In Canada, there are two screens for gestational diabetes, according to Diabetes Canada: the Glucose Challenge Test (GCT) and the Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT).

The GCT involves drinking a sugary drink containing 50 g of glucose, and having your blood drawn an hour later to check your blood sugar level. The idea is to see how efficiently your body processes sugar.  If the reading is too high, you have to go back for a two-hour Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT), which involves more blood draws and a higher concentration glucose drink, to see whether you really do have gestational diabetes.

Okay, let’s do this.

8:00am: After 12 hours of fasting, my blood was just taken to establish a baseline. This is the first of three blood draws I will have this morning. I feel lightheaded already and I haven’t even choked down the glucose drink. 75 g this time, vs 50 g last time.

Cheers.

8:30am: Since I’m going to be here a while, I wasted no time in making new friends.

Meet Vern.

Vern is a year-and-a-half-old yellow lab whose likes include wandering around sniffing everyone’s crotch, whining impatiently when he’s not being directly spoken to, and delicious pocket treats generously dispensed by his human, James. I’m not sure of the specific medical reason James has for needing a service dog like Vern, but I kind of want the same diagnosis because Vern is a really, really good boy. If he wasn’t so obviously serving a legitimate medical purpose, I would be currently orchestrating an elaborate plan to kidnap him when James gets up to get his blood drawn. We’d start a new life together, Vern and I, full of frolic and fancy. Take me out of this place, Vern. Take me far away.

9:00am: It’s time for my second draw to see how I’m reacting to the early morning sugar dump into my bloodstream. If last week is any indication, my guess is not well. Vern, send me all your strength.

Wait for me on the other side, pal.

9:15am: My favourite lab tech — a no-nonsense Jamaican hurricane named Karen — is here today, and we had a good chat as she expertly stuck a needle into my bruised arm. Shortly before my name was called, an irate eastern European lady sitting across from me began to sass-mouth her and Karen was having NONE OF IT. Her professionalism shone through like the class act that she is, but I swear, she was seconds away from Lab Lady Smackdown 2017 on this horrible woman. Team Karen all the way — I’d ride with her into battle any day of the week. Vern informed me he is also on Team Karen.

9:30am: To everyone’s dismay, Vern has departed the lab, dutifully following his human, James, out the door. No one is more devastated than I am. How will I make the last leg of this journey without you, Vern?

I’m never washing these pants.

9:45am: Janet Jackson is blasting in my earphones. If this woman can dance like it’s her last day on earth and pop out a baby at 50, I can handle a secondary test for gestational diabetes at 33.

10:00am: Karen beckons. It’s time for my third and final blood draw. I’m not sure I want to do this without Vern to come back to. I’m not even sure that I can.

10:30am: It’s over, and now we wait. Special shout-out to Vern, for giving me the support I needed during this difficult time. Full disclosure — today, I’m eating like there’s no tomorrow, because in mere hours, I’ll probably have a diagnosis of gestational diabetes and it’ll be, at the very minimum, a strict diet of vegetables and chicken from now until July. This is unbelievably devastating for reasons I’m not quite ready to acknowledge, so in the meantime, I’m going to savour these Toaster Strudels like I’ve never savoured anything before.

Bon appetit.

Three Mugs

This past Christmas, we surprised the grandparents with the announcement of a new baby on the way.

I came up with the idea of sharing the news via personalized mugs, each containing an ultrasound photo. I bought the mugs, and I printed the photos. I carefully wrapped each mug in colourful Christmas cheer, and presented it to each of them on Christmas Day.

It went off without a hitch.

There was joy, and there were tears.

There were only three mugs.

five years

Five years ago today, my father passed away. It’s been 1,826 days, and I still don’t talk about him much. I’ve written more words down than I’ve ever said aloud, and that suits me just fine.

I still think about him, though.

Mostly, I think about what he’s missed, what he’s missing, and what he will continue to miss as my life — and all of our lives — continue on. I think about my anger surrounding his illness and death, and yes, I still curse to high hell the grief that just never seems to subside.

As I lined up those three mugs on Christmas Day, I felt robbed and empty and gutted, but nobody could know. Especially not my mother, whose solitary Nana mug stood bravely in obvious isolation to those of her co-grandparent counterparts.

Robbed because he’ll never get to meet my sons.

Empty because he never got to see me become a mom.

Gutted because I know he would have loved my kids more than anything in this world, and he never got the chance.

But when I became a mom, I spent some time reflecting on being a part of the Dead Dads Club as a parent. Here are my top three pieces of advice to fellow club members with little ones, or little ones on the way:

1. Stop feeling let down by good things.

Creatively revealing my pregnancy to my mother and in-laws over the holidays should have been fun, but it just ended up feeling insincere and forced. I felt like a giant, phony ball of excitement as I plastered on a fake smile, waiting for their reaction. I was too focused on who wasn’t there, and not focused enough on who was. I ignored their joy, and focused on my misery instead. So if you’re standing where I am right now, stop looking through each one of life’s milestones with grief coloured glasses. You can’t go back. You can only keep living your life. The good things — I mean the really good things — don’t come around very often. Cherish them.

2. It’s okay to feel cheated.

I hate that my dad never got to see me become a mom, but what hurts even more is my sons won’t grow up to know him. I got 29 years with him, but all they’ll get are faded photographs and grainy, 80s-era home movies. But that’s life, and life isn’t fair. It’s a sobering reminder, and it’s helped me to appreciate what I do have a lot more. Yes, I’ve been robbed. But I’ve also been blessed. See #3.

3. Remember that they’re still here, in a way.

Though I’ll never again hear his voice, see his face, or surprise him at the holidays, my dad is still here, in a way. I get to see him every day. No, he didn’t get a mug this past Christmas — but he got something that nobody else did. Something infinitely more valuable.

He got his smile.

And nobody — even death — can take that away from him.

My Glucose Challenge Test Results Are In And They Suck

Well, crap. Check out this miserable result:

Yesterday, after sitting in a stuffy, overcrowded lab on my only day off for an hour and hastily consuming an unpleasant, sugary solution that contained 50 g of sugar, my blood sugar results came back at a staggering 9.9 millimoles per liter – which indicates a possibility of gestational diabetes. As you can see, the normal threshold is 7.8 millimoles per litre, which I blew past at an astonishing rate.

I was hoping that my lab was simply pranking me on account of it being April Fool’s Day, but nobody is joking. As predicted, I have officially – and spectacularly, I might add – failed my initial Glucose Challenge Test (GCT).

The Bad News

Gestational diabetes is one of the most common health problems during pregnancy. According to Diabetes Canada, between three and 20 per cent of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes. This makes it one of the most common health problems during pregnancy.

THE Good NEWS

This result doesn’t necessarily mean I have GD. The GCT doesn’t diagnose the condition – rather, it is designed to identify as many women as possible who may be at risk, and who need more testing to find out for sure. According to BabyCenter, only about a third of women who test positive on the glucose screen actually have the condition.

THE BAD NEWS AGAIN

I’m going to have to take another test, called the Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT). It is a longer (two hours, sometimes three), more definitive test that will tell me for sure whether or not I have GD.

THE EVEN WORSE NEWS

This follow-up test will be the literal worst. It will involve getting blood drawn to establish a baseline, then drinking yet another sugary mixture, containing either 75 g or 100 g of glucose, depending on the length of the test. My blood will then be tested again one, two, and sometimes even three hours after drinking the sugary drink.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sob into a bowl of oatmeal, BECAUSE THAT’S ALL I CAN EAT NOW.