A Winter to Remember (Part 2), Raynaud's & Family Time!

Well, it's FINALLY warm here! June is almost over (SO hard to believe!) and we're finally wearing shorts and sandals. Yay! We've been getting out on the bikes and roller blades and it's been wonderful! The pool is open and as I write this, the boys have a friend over and they're enjoying a good swim. Frankly, just looking at the pictures I am including in this post makes me shiver LOL! However, I do want to share them because I love the people in them and it shows that we truly had a great winter as a family.

Definitely one of my favourite pictures of Kaleb! He's one cool dude!
All the cold and snow really got us in the mood to watch the Sochi Olympics! We broke out the snowboard and Kaleb quickly took a liking to it. He was quite good and, I must say, really cute too! Kaiden got hooked on the speed skating events and has decided that he will begin training for the 2022 team right away. Who knows, maybe we'll be cheering them on one day!

I've mentioned before, that having grown up in a place with a steady climate, I really enjoy the changing of seasons...it makes me appreciate each one as it comes.

I also love snow and think it is beautiful, but my Raynaud's Disease has been making me long for warmer temperatures.

View from our front window during one of the many snowfalls we have had this year.
For those of you who don't know, I was diagnosed with this phenomenon about 3 years ago and have been learning how to control it through dressing warm and eating well. Basically what happens is my extremities "freak out" when exposed to colder temperatures. The blood vessels constrict and blood leaves that area of the body for varying amounts of time. The affected areas turn white and sometimes blue due to lack of blood flow and upon warming up they turn bright red and can be painful. During a "normal" somewhat mild southern Ontario Winter I am able to control attacks for the most part by staying bundled up, wearing my big thick boots and gloves and staying inside as much as possible. But this year had been anything but normal and definitely not mild! I've only lived in Ontario for 5 years, but some reports are saying it's been the coldest winter in 35 years and the snowiest in decades. Just THINKING about going outside in -20 C makes my fingers act up!

One of my typical Raynaud's attacks
I recently saw my rheumatologist again and she put me on a higher dose of a medication that is supposed to help open up my blood vessels and keep me from having so many attacks, but I've only just started taking it. Apparently I should have been taking it since the beginning of Autumn to get it into my system well before it gets really cold, but I didn't realize this. I will know for next year (of course it won't be overly cold next year, right?). I do think it has been helping, but we will see in the long run. In the years I've been dealing with this, it's seemed to take a bit of a turn this time around. It's usually just somewhat painful when the blood is returning to the fingers (notice the very red skin), but lately it's been painful as it happens and I can usually tell when an attack is coming on (which I suppose is a good thing, kind of like when I get an aura warning me that a bad migraine is on the way...warnings can be a good preventative measure).

The left hand didn't want to be left out.
Plus, a new complication...Chilblains...these occur when I have a Raynaud's attack and then warm up too quickly. This happens more with my toes than with my fingers and makes it hard to walk at times due to pain and inflammation. This showed up a couple years prior and I thought it was athlete's foot even though it wasn't terribly itchy and treated it as such. But upon further research and doctor examination, the Chilblain diagnosis was confirmed. (Got to say I was a little relieved that it was not what I originally thought!) My pride keeps me from wanting to share a picture as my toes are anything but pretty, but I will because it shows what a flare up can look like. The doctor still doesn't see anything of concern so that is a very good thing! I just have to endure the pain until it subsides. I continue to take good care of my fingers and toes and hopefully this will just continue to be a nuisance only and nothing more serious.

One of the "suggested remedies" for preventing Raynaud's attacks is to move to a warmer climate. Well, that's not happening, but a visit to a warmer climate is certainly not out of the question! It had been quite awhile since we had a visit with my family in Florida, so at the last minute the boys and I decided to book some flights and spend a week visiting with my parents and 94 year old Grandma. Kirk's real estate business had picked up so it wasn't really a good time for him to get away, but he felt it was important for the boys to have some grandparent/great grandma time and therefore, just the 3 of us headed down to the warmth.

The day before we flew out there was yet another snow storm and while we were gone, Kirk was sharing more snowy pictures with us! We felt just a little bit bad for him. :-) Below you'll see some of what the boys and I got to enjoy while away:

The boys spent every single day in Mom & Dad's pool! Even on the rainy/stormy days they were able to find some swim time. I enjoyed wearing my sandals and painting my toenails...makes them marginally prettier!

We were able to enjoy some beautiful beach weather at Fort DeSoto Park. The boys couldn't wait!

You would think they've never been to the beach before! They had a blast!

We had wonderful visits with my parents, grandma and other family & friends:

Dad, Mom, Grandma, brother Russell and Me

My Aunt Lois! Birthday twin and wonderful support throughout my life. Love you!
Who would believe she's 94 years old???
Kaiden was very excited to help Papa in the sound booth at church! I'm very proud of how my Dad uses his talents and interests to continue serving God even in retirement!
Getting a hug from Randee!
Little Michael, my favourite little guy until I had my own!
This is one of my dear friends with which I have been able to stay in touch through the years and many miles separating us (yay for email and Facebook!). We were next-door neighbors for 6 years and I was her go-to babysitter for her little boy at the time. I spent many an afternoon at her house, so much that she was like my second mom. One of my fondest memories is sitting with her on the porch watching thunderstorms roll in off of Tampa Bay. I still love storms to this day!

am thankful that my parents made it possible for us to have this visit and I know they enjoyed having their grandsons around even for a short time. We left the day before my Mom's birthday, but that didn't keep us from celebrating it while we were there with, what else, but a watermelon basket and fruit sundaes! 

It wouldn't be a true Gardner family celebration without watermelon!

Happy Birthday Grandma!! Now let's dig in!!

Stay tuned for more family fun (including the birthday surprise we had for Kirk!) and more recipes. My next post will focus on the different gluten-free flours, starches and binders that make up a delicious and nutritious all-purpose flour mixture. Converting recipes to be gluten-free can seem daunting if you're not used to it, but once you know what to do, it actually becomes pretty simple.

In closing I would like to give a shout-out to the women who have contacted me in the past year and in recent months because they are finding they have to feed one of their children differently due to certain dietary restrictions. Thank you for allowing me to help..seriously, I absolutely love helping in this way! As moms, we already have so much to think about on a daily basis and when you add a food allergy or intolerance into the mix it can quickly become very overwhelming. Please know that you are never a bother when you have questions. If I can help, I am very happy to!

Treat Yourselves Well!