Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 In Review

It’s surreal to me that this is my 4th In Review post. Looking back at 2013, I feel as though I’ve come so far this year. In 2012 I felt I’d gained my confidence yet, in the end, I didn’t have the confidence to be honest about how things were at the end of last year.

This year, I promise to be honest…Life with Elena has been extremely fun…& extremely frustrating!! What is it with Elena & this time of year? It’s not lost on me that Elena started acting crazy about the same time last year as she has this year. Is it some weird Seasonal Affective Disorder…who knows but the girl is certainly expressing her independence & opinions! I’m pretty good dealing with her…but man, it drives me crazy when she doesn’t listen to me! Elena is beyond her years in developing the talent of selective hearing that usually doesn’t appear until adolescence! For the most part though, if I can keep my patience in check, we get by just fine.

One of the biggest issues we had last year was her sleep & how she would fight bedtime. As I learned, sleep with a toddler is always evolving. We went a good long time with easy, peaceful bedtimes…then just in the last month or so, she starts all these games & silliness at bedtime…until finally, one night I’d had enough, I didn’t want to yell & scream & fight with her but I wasn’t going to stay while she futzed around…so I told her enough, to stay in bed & go to sleep & I walked out…I went back in a few minutes later, feeling guilty for leaving her & she was fast asleep. This happened a couple more times before it dawned on me, she fights bedtime because bedtime means our time together is over & more often than not, I won’t be there when she wakes up. She is so tired & needs her sleep but doesn’t want to give in…but if I say good night & leave, she’s asleep in minutes!!

Behaviour is still a big issue…we’ve started making good use of time outs…I’m not altogether convinced these make any sort of impact on her…last year, I bought the book, No Cry Discipline Solution by Elizabeth Pantley…but haven’t read it yet…I’m thinking I need to make the time now!!

Through all of these things this year, I have held onto the lessons & advice I got back at the beginning of this year…accepting that I don’t have to be perfect…believing I am a good mom, not just despite my mistakes but because of my mistakes. I’ve really learned that my mistakes make me better…Like I said, I really feel like I’ve come so far this year. More than that, I feel like I have come into my own. It’s a really good thing because 2014 is going to be a difficult year. I know that as any of the previous versions of myself, I would not be able to deal with & get through what I will have to in 2014. But the person I am now, I am ready to face it.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Obligatory Christmas Post

Nothing this Christmas has worked out the way I envisioned it back in October when I first started thinking about it…The worst part, & where all my negativity stems from, is we have a major family health crisis come up just a week before Christmas that has sent me into a tailspin…I’m still reeling. Don’t worry, Elena & I are just fine & in perfect health…this all concerns a member of my extended family.

She hadn’t been feeling well for some time but nothing specific. She was deeply exhausted all the time, she was having odd discomfort in her head, not headaches per se, but an achiness that made her vision feel off…recently she started experiencing serious vertigo…all little things that, by themselves, seemed harmless…but hindsight being 20/20 all make so much sense now.

December 17th, after a long day’s work, she was settling down for the evening when she started to feel very weird…all of a sudden her mouth & tongue started to twitch & spasm uncontrollably…she was frightened & called out to her friend who was staying with her…the friend called 911 & they were thinking maybe she was having a mini stroke. She was rushed to the hospital, a CAT scan done immediately then they sent her straight for a chest x-ray. I’m not sure if it was before or after a Doctor had been in to talk to her, but she had another episode of twitching & spasms & they were identified as seizures, not a stroke.

The night of the 17th, I had been exhausted…for the life of me, I can’t remember why now…but I had gone to bed with Elena at 7pm…when I woke for work at 4:30am, I got the messages. I rushed right over to the hospital. I didn’t know what to expect but was not prepared for what I heard.

She was awake when I arrived, about 5:30am, she gave me her account of what had happened then she told me what the Doctor had told her…brain tumor, chest x-ray showing a mass on her lungs…more tests needed to identify the primary sight & what is on her lungs…

A biopsy of her liver was done on the 20th…on the 23rd, while I was with her, she had another seizure…it was very scary to witness.

The morning of the 24th, I was getting Elena & I ready as we were planning on visiting her to have our  little Christmas together…she texts me at 7:45am that she’s just been told that they are taking her to the cancer hospital in my town for a 9am appointment. That’s the only information we’re given. I assure her I will meet her there at 9am…my Mom steps up, as usual, & takes care of Elena plus offers to drive me & drop me off so I don’t have to find parking…Elena, on the other hand, doesn’t understand why she is now not allowed to come with me to visit her…how do you explain this type of thing to a two year old? She cries all the way there while I apologize over & over again…what else can I do?

We are brought in to a see a Radiology Oncologist…he looks to be no older than 28, which makes me feel very old. He is very nice but doesn’t sugar coat anything. He shoots straight & though it is hard to hear, we appreciate his candidness.

She is full of cancer…there’s a lot of it…in her lungs, liver & of course the brain tumor. There is no cure, but they will treat her as she tolerates to keep her with us as long as they can while maintaining her quality of life. She is too unwell to consider chemo at this time & since all her symptoms stem from the brain tumor, they’ll treat that…with radiation, which has its own risks…it will cause the tumor to swell before it gets better…this could mean more seizures…and…

I am being purposefully vague to try & protect her identity but she is a family member & I am her next of kin. Her care falls to me. I am sick at the thought of what she has to face…I am scared to be the one to have to face it with her. I am scared to think about any of it…it’s all so overwhelming…

Elena…she is just too young to understand…but she does understand that I am not here when I should be, that when I am here, she doesn’t have my full attention while I return emails & send texts & take phone calls…she’s acting out & it’s killing me that a lot of what precious time we do have together is spent with me giving her timeouts & her having tantrums. I am not being the mother I want to be…the mother she deserves…
I did stay home with her on Christmas Day & we had our family dinner & I gave her my (mostly) undivided attention…it was a really good day…a Christmas we’ll remember…but not for the reasons I had wanted…

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Still Remembering

I made a promise a year ago & I have stayed true to that promise. I think of Olivia very often. I think of her parents & wonder how they are coping missing their little girl every day. I think of her little brother & how hard it must be for him to understand that his sister is gone. I often think of all the families in Newtown. My thoughts & prayers are with them as they endure this painful anniversary.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

I Don’t Even Know Where to Start…

I have all the same excuses reasons you read about all the time for not having blogged in a while. My last post (aside from the Crème de laCrème reminder…which you still have time before the December 15th deadline to submit, BTW) was September 24th…So much has happened since then…I’ve had plenty to say but never enough time to sit down & coherently articulate what is on my mind. When I would have time to write, I just couldn’t organize my thoughts enough or decide on which of the many topics on my mind I wanted to focus on…& time continued to pass & many things continued to happen…& the more time that passed, the harder it was to compose a post…Life has felt so busy…I know by the disarray of my home that spare time has been minimal. Yet as I sit here, I am at a loss as to what has kept me too busy to blog…well, that’s not completely true…I know what has kept me from blogging but none of it is interesting enough to blog about! Instead of trying to play catch up, I will start fresh right now with a clean slate.

The biggest news lately was our big vacation! Elena & I went to the Dominican Republic for a week!! We stayed at the Grand Bahia Principe LaRomana…& this trip was 100% better than last year!!!

I feel so very lucky that Elena is such a great traveler! Our flight was at 5:40am which meant getting Elena out of bed at 4am…thankfully (& surprisingly) she went to bed extra early the night before without fuss! She has been obsessed with the dark since the time change & was so excited at the promise that we would be going on the plane in the dark! She did amazingly on the plane, hardly fussing at all & even taking a 40 minute nap! I had a whole bag of tricks to keep her busy plus we had seat back TVs that all kept her entertained during the 4.5 hour flight.

That's a Walmart toy flyer she studied for a good 45 minutes!!


Aside from a couple hiccups (no air conditioning in our room the 1st night & Elena falling of the slide & getting a fat lip on the 2nd day) our vacation was absolute perfection!! I don’t have a single complaint about the entire trip…Spending 7 days with Elena was an absolute treat! Don’t get me wrong, Elena had her moments, she is 2.5 after all, but when all you have to do all day is swim, play on the beach & eat, this leaves little time for her to tantrum.

Speaking of swimming…Elena swims on her own now!!! That’s right, at 2.5 she swims! What’s funny is she doesn’t quite realize that she can swim. She jumps in & swims to me then wants me to help her swim back to the side!! I have some great video but Blogger won't let me upload it :(

I was also very happy that she’s gotten over her aversion to sand & we were able to play on the beach this year!! She & I are very good hole diggers! She even played in the ocean!! Of course she did this on the day I didn’t have my camera with us!! I still caught some great beach fun!


Lastly, I have to rave about one of the single best purchases I have ever made! Last spring, I found the “On the Edge Marketing” Folding Wagon online. It is an awesome alternative to a stroller! Now that Elena likes to walk as often as ride, this has been fantastic!! There’s plenty of space for diaper bags, lunch bags & depending on ages/sizes, can fit 2-4 children comfortably! It folds flat & takes up less space than our collapsible stroller!! It meets airline standards to be checked at the gate same as a stroller…& was a dream to have in the airport!! Being able to load all our bags plus Elena into it while navigating the terminal, security & customs was awesome!! It also made life at the resort so much easier! We would load it up every morning with our swim bags, beach toys, snacks…& it made getting a dawdling toddler from point A to point B so much easier!! There is only 1 drawback…no brakes, so you have to be mindful where you stop. Also be prepared to be stopped by other parents & grandparents everywhere you go!! We get stopped at least 2-3 times to be asked where we got it, how much it cost & a dozen other questions! I don’t mind raving about it though!! Oh, & in case you were wondering, I have no affiliation with “On the Edge Marketing” or any seller or dealer for the wagon in any way…it’s just an awesome product I had to rave about!!
I’ll leave you with a few of our favourite moments…