Share Share | Subscribe | RSS


Long time gone

February 27th, 2014


Geez it’s been a long time since I wrote here.

So long, in fact, that I’m about 4 weeks away from giving birth to our first daughter.

But let me back up.

Since I last posted, I’ve:

  • Bought a new house
  • Renovated and sold our old house
  • Gone to Florida to meet my sister, brother and birthfather
  • That one bears repeating; I’ve MET my birthfamily!
  • Moved
  • Gone through IVF
  • Got pregnant!!
  • Renovated a kitchen and done so many other other home improvements
  • Dug really really deep into my work
  • Quilted a lot
  • Acquired Gestational Diabetes
  • Spent a lot of time chatting with my long-lost sister
  • Meant to blog just about every day

So it’s been kind of an amazing 11 months.

And I’m sorry I’ve been so quiet. I find that when I was blogging a lot, I was doing it in the morning before work. That all ended last year. I took on a permanent team lead role at work, and switched my schedule to work earlier hours. On top of getting up and getting the dogs settled in the morning, I was always running behind. And blogging over my lunch was no longer an option since I generally worked through lunch. And, and, and… well, it’s a lot of excuses. Life just got… full.

And full of stuff I couldn’t really talk about when I was going through it. Like IVF. And early pregnancy. And work challenges. And the pains of renovating. Heck, I still can’t talk about a lot of that.

But I can try.

I’ve been on medical leave for a few weeks now. Babygirl is doing great in there, but the gestational diabetes and my needing to control it through insulin means that I’ll be induced at no later than 39 weeks. I have weekly ultrasounds and non-stress tests, weekly appointments at the diabetes clinic, and weekly meetings with my OB to see how things are progressing. It’s a lot. And I’m supposed to rest as much as possible.

So with that time, I’ve been thinking about writing down what it was like to do IVF, what my pregnancy has been like. I have some notes in a dayplanner I bought last summer, but I haven’t taken any time to write down what I was thinking, feeling, craving (Oreos) and I think it’s something I’d like to have.

And I’m thinking about doing it here, now that it doesn’t feel like a jinx.

So that’s what’s been going on here, in just less than 500 words. I can’t promise I’ll write more, but maybe I will.

The great de-stash of2013 (part 1)

March 25th, 2013

Just in case these few weeks weren’t crazy enough, Sandra and I decided to buy a more family-friendly house with a bigger yard for the dogs and any future kidlets! Part of moving means de-stashing, so here we go!

Preference to local pickups but I’m happy to ship anywhere for actual postage cost. I’m sorry, but I won’t split up lots of stuff – we have to have our house on the market in a couple of weeks so everything that’s going has to go asap. :-)

Lot of 8 Craft Books: – $20

Many of these are duplicates in our stash, all are in great to new condition: Knitting for Peace, Amazing Crochet Lace, Fitted Knits, Not Your Mama’s Knitting, Stitch ‘n Bitch Nation, The Yarn Lover’s Guide to Hand-dying, Not Your Mama’s Beading, Vogue Knitting Felting On the Go.

Lot of 13 Rowan Knitting Magazines – $150

Many (all?) of these are out of print. Gorgeous for ideas and eye candy!!

Lot of 8 Rowan knitting booklets – $60

Also largely out of print, includes Bigger Picture, the Calmer Collection, Plaid Collection, Classic Style, Classic Holiday, Classic Bambino, Arabesque and the Cocoon Collection.

Lot of 12 skeins of sock yarn – SOLD

Knit yourself 12 pairs of socks for less than $7 a pair! Includes Silk Garden Sock, Cherry Tree Hill, Dream in Color Everlasting, Chameleon Colorworks and more!

Lot of 4 skeins of hand-painted lace yarn – SOLD

Dear Ellen (A ReunionStory)

March 14th, 2013

Dear Ellen,

My sister Kimmy and I learned how to dance from watching your show. I’m sure you get a lot of letters like this, but what makes ours a little different is that Kimmy and I haven’t yet met. In 1977, when I was born, I was adopted. Only 3 days old, I went home to live with the Swensons, knowing only that I was adopted and that I was very, very, very loved. I had questions over the years, but the adoption was closed; no contact and little information.

I’m married to a wonderful woman, have a good career, a nice house, and the two best chocolate labs. We’re working on starting our own little family here in Toronto. But a few years ago, I lost my dad. And in 2011, my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma. I spent the first part of 2012 as her caretaker as she went through a successful stem cell transplant and recovery. In December, I turned 35. Maybe because of all of this, maybe in spite of it, I decided to find what I could about my birth family.

I found out that Illinois would now issue an original, unaltered birth certificate to adoptees. Where possible, it would include the birth mother and father’s name, address, ages, and other information that could help answer some of those questions. I filled out the form, using my mom’s address in St. Charles since it would be quicker. I paid my $15. I waited 3 weeks. On the Saturday morning that Mom called, we were actually in the middle of our adoption homestudy. I pressed ‘ignore’ and called her that afternoon. She read the birth certificate out loud and my heart stopped.

My birth mom’s name was Denise Lynn Johnson. She was 19. She lived in St. Charles at the time. I had history.

The internet is kind of amazing. I work on the web, developing applications and strategies for the province of Ontario. But I never thought how much I could find with just a name and approximate age. I found Denise’s yearbook photo first, and then her married name. I then found her obituary – she passed away in 2008.

This floored me. I’d waited more than four years too long. I would never know her. And since my father’s name was blank, I would never find my birth father.

I realize that I’ve already given away the best part of the story. You can probably guess what happened next. The obituary listed surviving children; a girl and two boys. Somewhere out there, I had a half-sister and half-brothers and what felt like a dozen aunts. I googled my sister’s name and found and old myspace page. And a picture. And then, I almost fainted.

My wife was sitting next to me and she looked over. “That could be you!” she said.

Never in my life had I met anyone who looked anything like me. I looked at Kimmy and knew; I had found a sister.

It only took two weeks to get in touch. I’d ‘friended’ the aunts on Facebook and one saw my messages. Within hours, I was chatting with Kimmy, who couldn’t have been more delighted to have a sister. But I still wanted to know… who was my father?

She didn’t even hesitate. “My dad is your dad”, she said. Our parents had been in love from a very young age and there was no doubt. After I was born, they moved to Florida, got married, had three children together. When Denise died in 2008, our dad didn’t know how to go on. He’s rebuilding, but it’s taking time. And it’s been so hard.

Now it’s been a few more weeks and I’ve bought a ticket to go meet her in Florida on April 13. We’ve lived such very different kinds of lives, but we’re continually amazed at how much we’re the same. We both have crazy long toes; we call them ‘fingertoes’. We both love cilantro, and sushi, and cheese. (Not all at the same time!) As I mentioned before, we both learned some killer dance moves from your show.

And most importantly, we are both having the time of our lives getting to know each other, crafting private jokes, making up for 30 years of not knowing.

What does this have to do with you? Nothing. Well, except for the killer moves we’ve learned over the years of watching. I

I just wanted to share that one of the things me and my sister (I’m still not used to saying that!) have in common is you. Thank you.

Amy Swenson
Toronto ON

Recipe: TricoloreTortellini with Peas,Bacon and Fresh Tomatoes

January 25th, 2013

Last night, Sandra came home with a package of tricolor tortellini; you know, the ones that are orange, cream and green. Because it was a weeknight, I didn’t want to cook a tomato sauce that would require an hour or so of simmering to really develop. I opted for a simpler and quicker mix of bacon, fresh grape tomatoes and peas. (And it’s even more delicious the next day!)

1 package tricolor tortellini (or any pasta, really)
6 strips of thick-cut bacon
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pint of grape or cherry tomatoes
2 T tomato paste
1/4 C red wine
1 C chicken broth
1/4 C shredded fresh parmesan
1/2 C frozen peas
olive oil
salt, pepper, red pepper, oregano to taste

In a wide skillet, cook bacon strips over medium until lightly browned, approx 10 minutes. Set strips on a paper towel to drain.

In the same skillet, cook the onion over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until lightly browned.

Cut the grape tomatoes in half lengthwise and add to the skillet, stirring to coat. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until tomatoes are starting to soften.

Add the red wine and stir to scrape up the browned bits. Add the chicken broth and tomato paste and stir to combine. Season with oregano, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

Bring the sauce to a boil, then simmer on medium-low for 15-20 minutes or as desired. Simmering longer will break down the tomatoes, while shorter cooking times will keep them fresh-tasting and slightly tart.

At the same time, cook the tortellini as directed on the package. Drain and set aside.

Add the bacon, parmesean and peas to the sauce and stir. Return to a simmer and heat until the peas are heated through.

Toss sauce with the pasta and adjust seasonings.


How-to: Download GraphPaper (Excel)

November 14th, 2012

When designing charts, I always use Microsoft Excel.

It’s easy to make your own graph paper:

  • Start a new spreadsheet
  • Ctrl-A to select all
  • Format->Column Width and set to 1.5

Or, you can just download mine:
Download Graph Paper (Excel)

more blogging