Throwback Thursday

Back in the late 70’s, my family went on a trip to Florida for vacation. Obviously, we did the whole “Disney thing”, but we also visited a place that wasn’t nearly as controversial then as it is today: SeaWorld Orlando. It’s weird…I thought that this photo was originally taken at Cypress Gardens because they were famous for their water-skiing shows, but thankfully YouTube and my friend Mike helped me find the error of my ways:

While I vaguely remember being there at all, I vaguely recall getting the photo taken below. The DC superheroes were on the beach of the lake taking photos with the kids. I was pretty stoked to get one taken with Batman and Wonder Woman. As noted on my personal Facebook page, Wonder Woman looked pretty conservative with the long sleeves and all. 

Shortly after the photos were taken with the kids, the heroes ran down the beach and waved to the fans in the audience, before hooking up to their water-skis and performing stunts in front of everybody.

Seriously. 

So this is my Throwback Thursday for today. Insane to think that this was considered fantastic entertainment at one point.

002


The Spark

I feel as though the “spark” is back.

Based upon a conversation we had a few weeks ago (well…an argument that turned into a conversation), we both realized where the other person’s mind was at…and that really opened our eyes to why we weren’t “clicking” like we used to.

We both decided to make a concerted effort to improve the areas that were lacking, and so far it has made a pretty big difference in how we interact with each other.

I feel like I’ve fallen in love with Sunshine all over again. Obviously, I’m still battling issues but the medication I’ve been taking has made a huge difference in how I interact with people on a day-to-day basis.

My biggest problem is that I don’t want to actually do anything. Not laziness, per se…but just being content to come home every day and do nothing. That’s how I was raised and that’s how I thought I wanted my life to be. Come home from work…relax…go to sleep. That’s it.

It’s so easy to fall into a rut like that, too. You work hard all day; you come home tired and just want to put on PJ’s and crash on the couch watching TV until it’s time to go to sleep. Sunshine wants more from us and I agree. Two weeks ago we went out on a quick post-work date and have decided to make the effort to go out on a date…whether it’s a meal or a coffee or a movie or a walk…at least once every two weeks. We’ve actually said that to each other before, but never seemed to follow-through. Now, though, we’ve budgeted money for date nights…and our marriage deserves us taking that time for ourselves.

Obviously, we’re still in a rebuilding stage, but I firmly believe that we’re on a very positive track and getting back to who we were as a couple. That was always one of the things that made our love stronger: being that fun, unique couple that everybody wanted to either love or hate, depending on how sick they got of us.

I’m really looking forward to a great 2015. So far, so good…and it’s only getting better.

033


The Treasure Hunt

Sunshine recently came up with the idea of having a week of fun with the girls. For no reason, really; just to show them how much we love them. We didn’t think the things we were planning were “awesome”, just fun…so we decided to call it “Super Duper Fun Week”.

Super Duper Fun WeekOne of her ideas was to create an indoor treasure hunt, leaving clues around the house for them to find and decipher before finding a treasure at the end. I decided that would be a fun idea for my son and I during our weekend together.

So that’s what I did. I printed off clues on coloured index cards and bought a little treasure chest at the Dollarama, along with a number of one dollar and two dollar chocolate coins from the Bulk Barn. As I went to pick up my son, I was totally ready!

Let me begin by saying I stay at my dad’s house during my weekends with my son. When I made the decision to move-in with Sunshine, he offered his finished basement as a place that the Ankle Biter and I could stay every two weeks. Plus, both my dad and my step-mother spend five months in Florida every winter, so the house would basically be ours half of the year.

So I was going to wait until Sunday to set the plan in motion. We were going to see the new Spongebob movie on Saturday afternoon and had nothing really planned for Sunday, so that seemed like the perfect time to do it.

Saturday morning was beginning to end and I was preparing to have a light lunch with the Ankle Biter. The matinee wasn’t going to start until 4pm, so we had lots of time to hang out and relax.

THEN THE POWER WENT OUT.

It was about 12:30pm and everything went out. I immediately went to the Nova Scotia Power website on my phone to see who was affected and saw that over 2,000 people in the immediate area had been hit, meaning that it was a pretty big outage and they’d work hard to get the power back as soon as possible.

At one o’clock the website said it would be 2:30pm before the power came back on. No worries, I said…we won’t freeze in two hours. And if it gets cold, maybe we can run out for a quick drive in the car to warm up.

Wait…uh oh…I had parked the car inside of my dad’s garage overnight so I wouldn’t have to drag in groceries and bags through the snow. The garage door is electronically run, meaning I couldn’t open the door and the car, and thus the two of us were pretty much trapped inside of the house with the power out.

We watched some 80’s wrestling on my laptop for about an hour (gotta love Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant in their prime!) before he went to play with his toys. I played music off the laptop to keep things going but soon realized the battery wasn’t going to last the whole afternoon.

As 3 o’clock hit, the NS Power website said it would now be 5:30pm before the power would come back on.

I sheepishly told Ankle Biter that we wouldn’t be seeing the movie and explained why. He said that he understood, though I could tell he was a little disappointed.

I then decided to launch the treasure hunt!

While he played downstairs, I went upstairs and began setting the plan into motion. I put out the clues in their proper locations and was careful to not give away what I was doing. Just as we were about to start, the power came back on. Thankfully, he wasn’t interested in doing anything else at this point.

What happened next was a LOT of fun…

I kicked things off with Clue #1

I kicked things off with Clue #1. He guessed pretty quickly that the next clue was in the fridge. Just as we were about to start, the power came back on! If nothing else, we were glad to know we’d be warming up soon.

Looking for Clue #2

Looking for Clue #2

Finding the next clue wasn't difficult. With my dad down in Florida, there's barely anything left in the fridge.

Finding the next clue wasn’t difficult. With my dad down in Florida, there’s barely anything left in the fridge. Ankle Biter knew right away that the next clue was at the washer & dryer.

Sure enough, on top of the washer & dryer was the third clue. Ankle Biter anxiously read it.

Sure enough, on top of the washer & dryer was the third clue. Ankle Biter anxiously read it.

Clue #3 said

Clue #3 was referring to a box of tissue. My dad has a box of tissue in practically every room of the house, but I did’t want to make it too difficult so I put it in a spare room that was just down the hall from the washer & dryer. Thankfully, it only took a second for Ankle Biter to find it.

Clue #4

The fourth clue was, of course, the bathtub!

Ankle Biter looking around the bathroom to find out where the next clue was hidden.

Ankle Biter looking around the bathroom to find out where the next clue was hidden.

Along with a "pirate's telescope", Clue #5

Along with a “pirate’s telescope”, Clue #5 was found inside the bathtub. Ankle Biter immediately knew that the answer was “bed”, but wasn’t sure which bed in the house he needed to look at. Thankfully, the first room he checked was the right one.

This one was a little tough. He wasn't sure what it was referring to. I helped him a little bit and it wasn't long before he guessed something in the kitchen.

This one was a little tough. He wasn’t sure what it was referring to. I helped him a little bit and it wasn’t long before he guessed something in the kitchen.

The answer was the microwave, which he found after looking inside the oven. This clue was one he picked up right away...a table!

The answer was the microwave, which he found after looking inside the oven. This clue was one he picked up right away…

...the answer was a table!

…the answer was a table!

On the kitchen table was the eighth clue and a pirate eye patch. Ankle Biter guessed this one right away...

On the kitchen table was the eighth clue and a pirate eye patch. Ankle Biter guessed this one right away…

...the front door! Wedged into the door was the ninth clue, which read: "What invention lets you look through a wall?" This was probably the toughest one for him, because he kept thinking it was a door with glass in it. Once he realized the answer was "a window", he then started making his way around the house trying to find the clue.

…the front door! Wedged into the door was the ninth clue, which read: “What invention lets you look through a wall?” This was probably the toughest one for him, because he kept thinking it was a door with glass in it. Once he realized the answer was “a window”, he then started making his way around the house trying to find the clue.

After a few minutes, he finally found the right window! This was the final clue.

After a few minutes, he finally found the right window! This was the final clue.

I had to ask him what he could look at that would let him see his own eyes. He guessed "mirror" and then got excited...

I had to ask him what he could look at that would let him see his own eyes. He guessed “mirror” and then got excited…

I don't normally go into my dad's room, but I thought that placing the treasure chest here would make the most sense.  This, obviously, is a picture I took before we started the treasure hunt.

I don’t normally go into my dad’s room, but I thought that placing the treasure chest here would make the most sense. This, obviously, is a picture I took before we started the treasure hunt.

Ankle Biter was SUPER excited to open up his treasure chest to see what was inside...

Ankle Biter was SUPER excited to open up his treasure chest to see what was inside…

You can't have a pirate-themed treasure hunt without a treasure chest filled with coins, right???

You can’t have a pirate-themed treasure hunt without a treasure chest filled with coins, right???

In the end, the power going out could have been a terrible thing that ruined the day for us. Instead, it gave us a chance to get a little closer without having to rely on technology to keep our interest. Ankle Biter had a BLAST and when Sunshine did the same thing with her girls, they loved it, too. 


Throwback Thursday

Sunshine and I were in our first year of dating and decided to take a stroll along the rocks at Peggy’s Cove.

For those who don’t know, Peggy’s Cove is is a small rural community located on the eastern shore of St. Margarets Bay in Nova Scotia’s Halifax Regional Municipality, which is famous for the Peggys Point Lighthouse (established 1868).

So anyway, we were just walking around taking selfies and being totally in love with each other. Out of nowhere, this woman walked up to us and asked if she could take our picture. She said that she was a photographer and was hoping to capture us for a project she was doing (or something along those lines…I don’t really remember).

We agreed and posed for a number of photos. We exchanged email addresses and didn’t really think about it again after that.

A couple of weeks later, I received an email that had a number of attachments. Each photo was better than the next!

So thus became something of a normal reaction of people to us: let us take your picture; let us enjoy your happiness!

This was one of those photos…

Throwback Thursday


The Princess Bride Valentines

I’ve always had a bit of a romantic side to me. I don’t always display it, but I certainly do try. Thankfully, my amazing wife is both romantic AND incredibly creative…so that makes special occasions like birthdays and holidays a lot of fun. 

We approached Valentines Day on a bit of a roll. After ending 2014 battling to save our relationship due to numerous issues, we went through a pretty rocky transition in January. I think, though, after a couple of intense conversations we were able to find some common ground and have been doing really well in the days since. That’s not to say everything’s perfect, but we’re certainly going in a positive direction and I think the thoughts of desperation and fear aren’t there anymore, with hope and excitement about our future creeping back into the forefront.

A movie that has always been “our” movie is The Princess Bride. If you have never seen this movie, then I don’t know if we can be friends anymore. This movie was so important to us that we ended up playing the love song as part of our wedding ceremony.

Needless to say, when I came home and was told that my “outfit for the evening” was laid out on the bed, I was pretty excited to see it included our Princess Bride matching t-shirts. 

Our t-shirtsTo kick things off, I got the most incredible card that just set the whole night into motion…

Mostly Dead - Princess BrideSunshine had gone and planned out a Princess Bride themed Valentines evening for us. This, to me, was one of the coolest ideas I had ever heard. I was grinning from ear to ear and couldn’t wait to see what she had in store.

She had quotes from the movie on index cards, and those quotes led directly into the next part of the evening. To kick things off, we needed to have a drink…

Let's drinkHow cool is that??? So I walk into the kitchen and find that she had her wine all set-up:

Now with more iocane!Yes…“Now with more iocane!”

Next up was a series of choices for me: three locally-brewed beers that I had never tried before. I was super impressed and couldn’t wait to try all three:

Inigo's Revenge BrewAfter talking and laughing (and me sending pics to Facebook right away because I was so impressed), we began the meal with the appetizer. So I opened up the card and read a quote about the Shrieking Eels. Then I went to the kitchen table and found this:

Shrieking Eel CrostiniI was absolutely blown away, but this was only the beginning. Next came the incredible appetizer, some pan-seared Rodents of Unusual Size!!

R.O.U.S.At this point, I don’t know if I could have loved my wife any more than I did in that moment. She had taken “our movie” and turned it into a full-on date! 

After the entree, it was time for dessert:

Twuu Wuv TrufflesI love my mom and her chocolate peanut butter balls were absolutely spectacular, but I have to say that I think I’ve found a new favourite. Unbelievable!!

Because it was still fairly early after dinner, I received the following message:

Skill against skill aloneWhat could this possibly mean? She wanted to play a board game with me!! So we set up one of our favourite “couples games”, Blokus, and played a round.

Skill against skill aloneWhen all was said and done, there was a victor and there was a person who didn’t end up winning. I don’t want to point out who that person was but…

Not the victorWe then sat down to watch the movie itself. We still laugh at the inside jokes and quote the memorable lines. I was smiling like crazy because I recognized the quotes in the movie that Sunshine had meticulously used and planned for the evening. About halfway through the movie, I received yet another envelope with the following messages…

Snack messagesI was really surprised, but not nearly as surprised when I came to find the following set-up as a “movie snack”.

SNACKSHOW AWESOME WAS THIS???

Needless to say, once the movie was done I was ready to do whatever I could to make my wonderful wife a very happy woman. Before that, though…she gave me one more quote to keep in mind:

HehHeh.

We actually exchanged a couple of gifts, but the night was really all about Sunshine and the incredible work she put into our Valentines night. It didn’t cost a ton of money…it was simply a matter of some creativity and a lot of love. 

I don’t think I’ve ever had a better Valentines.


National Drug Facts Week: Venlafaxine

January 26th through February 1st is “National Drug Facts Week”.  In an effort to better understand what I’m taking and why, I decided to write a little bit about Venlafaxine.

Venlafaxine3Dan2Venlafaxine is an anti-depressant that affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause depression. It’s used to treat major depressive disorder (which is what I’m battling), anxiety, and panic disorder.

But how, exactly, does Venlafaxine work? Well…may experts believe that an imbalance among neurotransmitters is the actual cause of depression. Serotonin and norepinephrine are two neurotransmitters that are released by nerves in the brain. Venlafaxine works by preventing the uptake of serotonin and epinephrine by nerves after they have been released. The reduced uptake increases the effect of those two neurotransmitters in the brain, thus decreasing the likelihood of depression.

Venlafaxine-EffexorMy doctor started me off on a dose of 75mg per day for the first week, then bumping up to 150mg after that. My next check-up with him is on Wednesday, and if everything is continuing to go along a good path (and it is) then he’ll bump me up to 225mg per day; and that will be for the remainder of the year. For someone who has never taken medication for an extended period of time before, it’s going to be a long road to travel. The hope, though, is that it won’t be necessary after the year is over.

Venlafaxine is to be taken with food. The capsule itself is a controlled-release capsule, so you shouldn’t crush it or try chewing it.

Venlafaxine has the potential to slow reflexes or impair judgment. Therefore, caution is advised (especially) early in the course of treatment. Drinking alcohol of any kind is not recommended as it will increase these (and other) side effects.

What I really was concerned about (and already wrote about) were the numerous side effects that were possible with this drug. As I’m now over a month into taking it, I can say that the side effects have primarily worn off. Here are the most common:

  • vision changes;
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea;
  • changes in appetite or weight;
  • dry mouth, yawning;
  • dizziness, headache, anxiety, feeling nervous;
  • fast heartbeats, tremors or shaking;
  • sleep problems (insomnia), strange dreams, tired feeling;
  • increased sweating; or
  • decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm (ejaculation disorder).

venl7386At this point, I’m still being affected by some of these side effects (weight change, dry mouth, yawning, increased sweating, and difficulty having an orgasm), but I’ve been able to learn to adapt to them as best as I possibly can. The way I see it is that things could be much worse (as they were over the Christmas holidays when I changed medications).  If this is as bad as things get (more severe side effects can include seizures due to increased bloody pressure), I can work through them over the course of one year.

The FDA suggests if anti-depressants are discontinued abruptly, symptoms may occur such as dizziness, headache, nausea, changes in mood, or changes in the sense of smell and taste. Therefore, it is generally recommended that the dose of anti-depressant be reduced gradually when therapy is discontinued. Obviously, I’ll worry about that when the time comes.

So that’s what is going on with my medication. I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on it, both in terms of knowing what I’m putting into my body and how my body is reacting.

stronger than depressionI’m not a spokesperson for anti-depressants. I’m not somebody who is trying to motivate the world to start taking pills to solve their problems. But I am someone who realized that there was a chemical imbalance somewhere that was causing me to not act or think the way I normally did. I went and sought out professional help, and I feel life is slowly becoming better because of it.

Being clinically depressed does not make me weak. It does not make me a “weird” person. Being told that you have a mental illness does not mean you are insane or that there is something horrifically wrong with you. It simply means that there is a chemical imbalance that can hopefully be remedied through medication and/or psychotherapy.

I would like to hope that writing about my battles with depression or taking medication can help inspire one person to speak with somebody about their own issues. That would make this all worthwhile to me.


Throwback Thursday

It’s hard to believe that today’s already Thursday. A snowstorm during the week can throw things off in a hurry.

Today’s #TBT is from my trip to Houston, Texas almost eight years ago. I was newly hired by a very large American company and they flew me from New Brunswick to Texas for a month to train. I don’t know if I’d ever want to live in Houston, but it was a great city to visit.

One of the things I did was eat at one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to: Fogo de Chão.

It’s funny…I actually discussed this restaurant while dining with co-workers last week. If you have never been to Fogo de Chão, here is the deal: meat. In fact, it’s an all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse. And they have an extremely simple, yet fun way to serve your food.

So when you order the “meat buffet”, you’re not going up to a big spread on a table somewhere. Instead, there are servers walking around from table to table while holding platters with different meats on them (I was told at least 20 different types, actually). Once they’ve made it once around the restaurant, they’ll switch out with another meat from the kitchen. There are multiple servers so the meat is constantly going around the room.

As a guest, you are given a “token” that’s green on one side and red on the other. Much like a stoplight, “green means go”…so if a server sees green facing up, they’ll come over and offer you the cut of meat that they have (filet mignon, top sirloin, lamb, rib eye, etc.). They will continue to do this until you flip your card over to show red, at which point they will not bother you and let you eat whatever pile of meat is on your plate.

They offer other things to eat, obviously, but my friend and I went there to chow down on a $60 meal of ALL MEAT. And yes, I got the “meat sweats” as we made our way to a Houston Astros game once the meals were done.

So to top it all off, I had to get a picture taken at this restaurant. You can tell by the look on my face that I definitely got my money’s worth that day.

Throwback Thursday


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,997 other followers