Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Black Coffee

Recently, Devin & I completed a Whole 30. "What's that?" you might ask. Well, it's 30 days without eating sugar, dairy, alcohol, grains or legumes but focuses on eating whole foods that are good for you. Protein, veggies & healthy fats.

One of the hardest parts of this challenge was eliminating cream from my coffee. Way back in 2009, I dropped the sugar from my double double but couldn't seem to get rid of the cream. For years, I was a double cream kinda gal.

So, to cut out the cream for 30 days was tough. At first, I was doing bulletproof coffee - coffee that is blended with coconut oil. Surprisingly good! But, not always convenient. I also tried using coconut milk - which was also pretty good, but just not the same. So, I was intermittently going black and using coconut milk, and sometimes bulletproof.

However, I think I've finally made the switch. I'm now drinking black coffee and enjoying it! Especially when it's OJOE coffee!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

North American Top Tech Finals

All of Devin's hard work and Top Tech challenges culminated with a trip to Indianapolis to compete in the finals. What a week we had as Cummins rolled out the red carpet.

Unfortunately, United Airlines did NOT roll out a red carpet. Or carpet of any kind. We were really disappointed with the service on our way to Indy - arriving at the airport at 8am to discover our flight was delayed which would cause us to miss our connecting flight in Washington. We stood in a huge line with other frustrated passengers as one employee slowly worked through the problems. This was, of course, while three other employees mingled in the self-check in area to help anyone that might have a problem. We were finally rerouted through Chicago and, again, we were delayed. So much so that we had to RUN to catch our connecting flight. We slid into our seats at the absolute back of the airplane, winded and sweaty. Then we sat on the tarmac for 90 minutes. What a day! We finally arrived in Indianapolis with no time to lose as we were headed to the opening reception.

The Cummins HQ building in downtown Indianapolis is new, sleek and modern. It was a beautiful spot to welcome everyone with fantastic food and a peek into what we had in store for the week. The thing that stuck with me during that opening night was when one of the men stated: "There are 3600 Cummins technicians in North America. There are 36 of you here tonight. You are the top 1% of this company." My husband is a 1%er! Who knew?

The next morning, Devin was picked up at the hotel at 6am for his day of testing. The ladies in the group had an easier morning as we left around 9am. They took us to the testing facility so we could get a glimpse at what the techs were up to. Then it was off for lunch and shopping in Little Nashville. It was a cute walkable town, but it was very hot so we were all exhausted by the time they took us back to the hotel!

Wednesday was jam packed with activities for both spouses as our group had completed the testing. We did a walking tour of the downtown - which was filled with interesting historical tidbits. We had lunch at a great restaurant and then headed off for the Rolls Royce museum and Lucas Oil Stadium - where the Colts play. It was a great day but we crisscrossed Indianapolis on foot and we were all tired and sweaty by the end of it! We flopped on the bed in our room when we returned and mindlessly watched a game show on the food network! That night we checked out a great paleo-inspired restaurant for dinner. They started us off with a shot glass of olive oil. It's apparently supposed to help satiate you and curb carbohydrate absorption. (or something like that) Sounded interesting so we gave it a try. Devin ordered veggie lasagna and I had chicken strips and sweet potato fries.

Thursday was probably the coolest day! We went to the Indy 500 track to watch them practice for the big race. Cummins has two suites, so we had to wear lanyards with our passes but had access to free food and drink, AC spot to relax, pit passes, etc. I have no idea about race cars but it was a really cool experience and when will we ever have that opportunity again!?!

Thursday evening was our last of the trip and time for the big reveal! We got fancied up and set off for the reception at Cummins HG. Unfortunately, Devin did not place in the top three but I was super proud of him for making it this far. Apparently the first engine he was tested on was a marine engine - which he's never been trained on or worked on. A disappointing way to start the competition as he was feeling defeated. I know he was disappointed with himself, but it was an incredible accomplishment to make it this far and, as I encouraged him, he will know what to expect for next year!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother's Day 2018

Today is Mother's Day and it's with mixed emotions I sit down at my keyboard. 

I am eternally grateful for the wonderful Mum that God gave me. We share a special bond and I so appreciate the relationship we have. She has been a selfless woman, putting the needs of her children first and raising four wonderful kids. (if I do say so myself!)

Her example has been inspirational and I have longed for the day that I could, myself, be called Mum. Many Mother's Days passed by without the slightest prospect of that becoming a reality. There were many tears shed by both Mum and me as she shouldered this burden with me. Many prayers went up by both her and her friends as they prayed that God would grant me the desire of my heart.

And He did. I met Devin and I became a wife and a mummy all at once. It was what I had always hoped for, although presented a bit differently than I had imagined. Cody welcomed me into his life with open arms. At six years old, he had a longing for the attributes that I was longing to give. After just a few short weeks, he told me that he loved me. My heart swelled as I realized the connection we were making.

We have continued to grow in our relationship as we've settled into our new family. Eventually he asked if he could call me Mommy. At first, I hesitated. I said that he has a Mommy and that's not me. I also explained it might be confusing for him to call both me & Melanie "Mommy". He didn't seem to mind and persisted. So, we agreed that I would be called Mummy with a u to differentiate.

As much as I love Cody as though he were my own, my heart longed for the experience of having a baby. Someone that had my DNA, that looked like me, a product of both my husband and myself. After all, it's the way God designed it. 

Devin & I recognized early in our relationship this was important to both of us and knew it was something we would pursue, but time was of the essence. I was 39 years old when we got married and my window of opportunity was slowly closing. After countless appointments, tests and procedures we have not been successful in this endeavour. 

In the beginning, I was optimistic. It was finally my time to become a mum. But, as the months passed, each one a reminder of a lost opportunity, my optimism faded. I gave myself a mental deadline of my 41st birthday. I knew that we were pushing the boundaries of having a healthy baby and honestly, I did not want to be 50 years old and dealing with the same issues we are now going through with Cody. 

I struggled with this decision, as it felt selfish. But, the more I talked to Devin about it, the more at peace I was with the conclusion. As he pointed out, sometimes we need to let go of past dreams in order to embrace new ones. We have the rest of our lives together to enjoy and that means different dreams than I ever allowed myself to dream before.

All of this was brewing in my mind for months, but I dared not say it out loud. If I did, it would be more real. Several months ago, as I tucked Cody in for the night and sang him a song, I felt God say to me he's enough. I pushed that out of my brain. I didn't want to hear that because I wanted what I wanted. It didn't seem fair that a couple like Devin and myself would be denied the opportunity to welcome a new little one. Especially when my eyes are focused on terribly inept parents everywhere I go. Why God, would you allow people like that to become parents and deny me? I pressed on.

Until, one Sunday, our pastor said something that hit me like a ton of bricks. His illustration was comparing his relationship with his 2-year-old daughter with our relationship with Christ. Quinn can tell Daddy that she's hungry and that she wants ice cream for dinner. As her dad, he can give her food so that she is not hungry. But, he knows what is best for her and would not give her ice cream for dinner. God is like that with us. He will give us what we need but not necessarily what we want. Boom. There it was as plain as day. I was asking for ice cream. The tears streamed down my cheeks as I recognized what this meant.

We had decided to try one more round of IUI to ensure we had given our all and would not regret anything in the future. However, when my period finally arrived, I was overwhelmed with emotion. The reality was, I didn’t want to make the call to the clinic. I knew what the treatment made me feel like and I felt I already knew the answer. After several hours of teary conversation, Devin & I decided not to pursue this any further. 

It’s not easy to walk through the baby department at a store or congratulate a friend on their pregnancy. And sometimes I get overwhelmed with all of the things I’ll never do. I will never get the opportunity to give birth. To experience infant – 6 years old. To be a part of a new moms group. To choose a name. To see my eyes looking back at me. 

But God is faithful and has given me the family I desired. I am blessed beyond measure to have found such a wonderful, caring husband and a beautiful little boy to pour into and call my own.


Wednesday, May 09, 2018

My Precious Boy

Today is a special day for me & this guy.

Three years ago I met Cody for the first time. I was a little nervous - this was like nothing I had ever done before. What if he didn't like me? What if I didn't like him?

I rang the bell and took a deep breath. Cody spent a few minutes hiding behind Devin, but it didn't take long for him to invite me to see his toys and play with Nerf guns in the back yard. Soon after, he wormed his way right into my heart.

I didn't spend 9 months preparing to meet him. Although, it could be said, I spent my entire life preparing to meet him - without even knowing it. I didn't carry him or deliver him, but he has made me a mummy and has filled an empty spot in my heart.

Being a parent is the hardest job there is. (And being a step parent is even tougher) But, the rewards are also far greater than I ever could have imagined.

Tonight we are going on a family "date" to celebrate this special anniversary. Cody is so excited... and so am I.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Canada's Top Tech

After acing the written test and coming in #2 in the first round of Cummins Top Tech competition, we set off for Montreal last week so Devin could compete with the other 2 technicians that made it into the next round.

We arrived just in time for the Pointe Claire branch reps to take us out for dinner with the other competitors. It was a nice opportunity to get to know the other guys as well as the people that put together the contest. Devin stayed modest and commented that it would be tough competition, but from the first time I had heard about the competition, I felt he was going to win.

The next morning he was picked up at the hotel at 8am. I had no idea how long the competition would be and since we had taken Devin's work truck - I was stuck at the Holiday Inn. There wasn't really much that I could walk to without crossing a 4 lane highway, so I indulged in a day of relaxing by the pool, reading and watching HGTV. I kept looking at the clock and wondering when he would finish and when I would finally know the results. Although I knew he would win, I had to mentally prepare what I would say if he didn't. I had not really considered that before!

It was nearly 6pm when I heard the card in the hotel room door. He walked in and casually asked me how my day was. I quickly responded by asking how HIS day was. He said it was alright and then dropped the bomb. "Well, you're married to Canada's Top Tech!" What!?!?! How exciting. I was so proud of him. He just proved himself to be the top Cummins Tech in all of Canada! And, as a bonus, won $5,000 US. He will now move on to the next round of competition in May. We are both invited to go (expenses paid) to Indiana where Devin will compete against America's Top Tech and Mexico's Top Tech. The competition will be fierce, but the winner will go home with $10,000 US in his pocket!

We went out to celebrate in Montreal that night. A Google search provided a fantastic restaurant called Gibby's. It is in an old stable from the 1600's so the atmosphere is quite unique. The food was exquisite and the service was impeccable. Our waitress Mona took excellent care of us and when we told her that we were celebrating Devin's win, she brought out a cake and took our photo. At the end of the meal, she brought the bill and a small card which had the photo tucked in it as a souvenir. So sweet!

We spent the next two days exploring Montreal: wandering small markets, checking out the biodome, meandering old Montreal and sampling exceptional food along the way. It was such a wonderful and welcome getaway for the two of us.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Diving In

It may seem strange for many people, but I never learned to swim. We lived in the country and driving "into town" to take swimming lessons wasn't a priority when I was growing up. As a result, neither me nor my siblings learned how to swim.

It was always something in the back of my mind that I thought "I should really take some lessons". But, never got around to it. Last summer, Jo-Anne & I were at the beach with our families when the guys took a load of stuff to the vehicles. We were left with the boys on the shoreline. Not a big deal, but the waves were huge that day and they wanted to get in a few more before we had to leave. We were both uncomfortable with them being in the water since neither of us could swim. I think that was the moment I decided I needed to act.

So, a few weeks ago I inquired at our local pool about adult lessons. I signed up and suited up. My instructor is great! By the end of my first lesson I was actually swimming!

I must say, it is quite an unusual and amazing feeling to push off from the edge of the pool and feel my body hovering at the surface. I am now able to swim 15 meters!

I don't expect to compete in any races or achieve any accolades, but conquering my fear of the water and learning to swim at 41 feels pretty good to me.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

My Top Tech

I want to take a moment and shamelessly brag about my husband. He deserves it!

In December, Devin & I volunteered through Cummins to pack hampers for the Salvation Army. The gentleman that organized this event is Cummins' trainer. He's the guy that teaches all the techs how to service the different engines. That day, Mike was encouraging the technicians to enter Cummins' Top Tech Challenge. He explained there are three levels to the competition, each with a cash prize. As he pointed out, it can't hurt to try.

I was intrigued. I knew Devin's abilities and thought he had a good chance at winning. Unfortunately, he was in the Arctic when the written test was administered. We thought he would have to pass this year, but they actually gave him the opportunity to write the test when he returned.

Several weeks later, Devin received an invitation to participate in a call regarding the competition. I eagerly awaited his phone call to give me the update. He tried to play it cool and ask me how my day was going, but I knew he had news to share!

Out of 49 participating technicians across Canada, Devin has the TOP score in the written test. The overall mark is made up of this test, plus his manager's review, safety rating, efficiency, etc. So, with that factored in, he was in second place - by a hair! The top score is 92.3 and Devin's score is 91.7. Talk about close!

He has won $500 USD and moves on to the next round of the competition. At the end of the month, we will travel to Montreal where the top three technicians will compete. Should he win that hands-on challenge, he will win $5,000 USD and move on to compete against the top American and top Mexican technicians in Indiana. I may be biased, but I think he has a great chance of winning!