Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Answer



I don't even know how to start this post, but it is what it is.
E2 was diagnosed with mild spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy.

I woke this morning knowing I was taking my daughter to a neurologist. I woke this morning knowing I was bringing examples of her school work, a letter from her teacher, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, and developmental optometrist. I woke this morning knowing that my husband, my sister in law, and myself were truly the only ones who saw all of E2's struggles. I woke this morning not knowing that we would finally have an answer.

The neurologist was incredible. He read every letter, heard my every word, and assessed E2. While he examined her, he asked more questions, wrote down more information, and then gave the diagnosis.

I cried. The doctor asked why I was I crying and I said, "What is her future?" His answer - whatever she wants it to be.
She should not be progressing in school, but she is. She should not be able to ride a two wheel bike, but she does. She should not be an incredible swimmer, but she is a rock star in the pool. There are so many things she should not be able to do....

How did we miss this? Who can I blame? Who the fuck can I cuss out, fire, and beat the shit out of?

The short answer is we all did our job. Due to early intervention, the signs were not clear. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. As I begin to research more, the diagnosis makes perfect sense.

The neurologist took his time. The neurologist understood my tears and my fears. He reminded me the only reason E2 is as amazing as she is is because of me and my perseverance. The only reason E2 was even in his office was because of me. You would think this would make me feel better, but I was in no mood for the ego boost. (Shocking, I know)

I, of course, responded with a joke saying I was an overbearing Jewish mother and he quickly replied, "You're an educated professional who wanted answers. You got them. Don't let this label define you, your expectations, or limit E2. The sky's the limit."

I cried hysterically.

How do you balance pushing your kid to achieve more now knowing there is a reason she is not progressing like others? How do I punish her? How do I not coddle her? How do I look at her the same? How do I even begin to believe the sky is the limit when I am suffocating with fear of the unknown?

The answer to the how is the same answer it was yesterday. How do I do push her, expect more, etc?
I just do. I did it yesterday, I can do it today, and I will do it tomorrow.
It is not fair to no longer push E2.  It is not fair to squash her hopes and dreams because she received a label this morning. E2's life did not change this morning. Mine did. I knew I was a mother of a child with special needs, but the thing was no one really believed me. All the label did was validate what I have been saying for years.

Next steps....E2 will have an EEG and MRI to try and figure out why she has CP. If those are clear, she will undergo genetic testing. There is a reason for CP and we need to find it. Her diagnosis will not change. She will not get worse. There is no cure.

Speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy all help children with cerebral palsy. Like I said, E2's life has not changed. She will continue to receive these therapies. The biggest difference will be E2 is now covered by by the special education umbrella for school meaning she will have an IEP vs a 504.

There is still so much for us to learn. There is still so much to process, but one thing is for certain - Nothing has ever stopped E2 and we certainly will make sure nothing does.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Gray

Gray, a mixture of black and white.

There is nothing about me that is gray, but unfortunately E2 is what I call  gray.

To all the kids that are gray and to the parents of the gray, I see you.

Gray has a speech delay. Severe enough to struggle with word retrieval and simple conversations, but not severe enough (yet) to qualify for public school intervention.

Gray has fine motor issues. Severe enough to cause anxiety of over learning to tie shoes and button pants and use a zipper, but not severe enough (yet) to cause handwriting concern.

Gray has motor delays. Severe enough to see a difference in PE at school, but not severe enough to prevent you from learning to ride a two wheel bike or learning to swim.

Gray has motor planning issues. Severe enough to not know what to do when you lose something, or when faced with a new environment, but not severe enough for intervention because you learn the motor plan after doing it once.

Gray has a learning disability. Severe enough to need tutors, at home intervention, and materials to be retaught frequently, but not severe enough (due to age) to qualify for special education or a 504.

Gray can have low self esteem and poor self confidence, but has a parent pulling the puppet strings to avoid situations that will truly bring these issues to light.

Gray cannot figure out the simple game of Tic-Tac-Toe until someone plays it with them multiple times a day for months. The same goes for Hide and Seek and other typical childhood games.

Gray sucks. Special Education is for children with a diagnosis. 504 is for children with a diagnosis. What happens when your child is just on the cusp of many diagnoses but due to intense private early intervention they don't qualify for a specific problem? Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Gray costs money. Gray does not benefit from free services. Gray is not two years below as the state requires for intervention, but lagging behind peers. Gray requires outside help. Gray requires a fight you don't want to fight. A fight that says my child is not developing normally, but I refuse to let them fall further behind. Gray requires knowledge of health insurance and how to get them to see the issue. Gray causes arguments with family and friends that say they will catch up.

Gray has had private intervention since 20 months of age and is still delayed.

Gray is sweet and kind and gets enrolled in public school because schools for children with special needs say Gray is too high achieving.

Gray is exhausting.

Gray has an accident at school because they cannot tell the teacher it is an emergency. Gray only raises their hand because that is the motor plan that was taught and Gray has poor communication skills and problem solving skills.

Gray plays with the same children over and over again because it is easier than initiating play with someone new and trying to figure out the new game everyone is playing.

Gray plays alone when the usual friends are not available.

Gray gets frustrated.

Gray doesn't like lunch in the cafeteria because it is too loud.

Gray has issues that are not recognized by the public school district to receive accommodations, but Gray desperately needs them.

Gray has amazing compensation skills which mask the delays.

My Gray is lucky. I am a stay at home mom and former teacher. I work tirelessly each day to help her achieve goals, to help her achieve "normal." People say what is normal anyway, but there is a normal. Avoidance does not help. Pretending it's all okay because she is happy and smiles all the time does not help.

I do not wish for someone to say Autistic, ADHD, Dyslexic, or another well known learning difference. I just wish for someone to know something. The word "delay" doesn't help. Delays don't get public school services. What are parents to do that cannot afford private intervention?

Why does a child have to be so severely behind to get help?
Why do we have to let them fall to then try and catch them up?

My Gray is extra lucky. Our elementary school is fantastic. We have a campus compliance coordinator that works WITH families to get the children help. We were blessed with the most incredible kindergarten teacher that truly sees my child. She knows her so well and goes the extra miles, yes mileS, to help her.

Special schools are 25k - 40k dollars a year! We do not have the financial means for that tuition right now.  I cannot even begin to think about what if we were at a public school without an amazing staff. I cannot imagine the stress it would cause if our public school was awful and we could not afford a private school. Where would we go?

What if we could not afford private speech, OT, and PT. What if we had to rely on the bureaucratic bullshit we call Early Childhood Intervention?

If you're a mom of a Gray, keep fighting. Processing issues, communication issues, motor issues, are all cause for concern and deserve help. We need to open our minds that children do not fit in a box. There is not always something you can check. Our society wants to label children to provide for them.
Gifted, ADD, Learning Disabled...whatever it is, it must be a box that can be checked in order to receive services.

No box to check? Your kid is GRAY. And Gray needs a fierce mama bear.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

I Am Modest. Sort Of.




Today I went bra shopping for the first time in way too long. Supposedly you are supposed to replace your bras every six months, but who the fuck has time to do that? And who the fuck has all that money??  Bras are EXPENSIVE. Maybe just my size is expensive? Target and Wal-Mart cannot help me with this item of clothing.

From the time I was in high school, I have been blessed with my two lady friends. My mom was a stickler for posture, so that made my chest seem even bigger because unlike my friends, I was not allowed to hunch over. Gain weight, lose weight - my friends are still there. They refuse to leave me. It's like they took out a 30 year mortgage, paid it off, and are here to stay. You would think at 40, I would be used to the annoyance that is bra shopping, but I am not.

In high school and college, my mom made me go to a special store that properly fits you. I have PTSD from those experiences. Even with my sailor like mouth, I am super shy about my body. In this special bra store, the sales lady comes into the dressing room WITH you! They stare at your chest, measure you with a measuring tape, and help you properly put your bra on. Are you embarrassed for my 14 year old self?? I am. It was AWFUL. I HATED going there. Ugh. A teenager has enough angst. I did not need the bra ladies adding to mine.

I am super loud. However, ones bra size should not be mentioned loudly enough for all to hear! I still think my mom owes me an apology. I am grateful she helped me have supportive bras and I don't have saggy breasts because of it, but.....for fuck's sake, it was traumatizing.

So here I am today, 40 years old, texting my cousins, aunts, and my mom from the fucking dressing room of Nordstrom's while I stand in shock at my bra size. G-d bless my grandma and her genes, we are all well endowed. Well, we, minus one...sorry Aunt "LACA."  Yes, I sent a group text. Yes, I am still in disbelief. You know what else is shocking? $78 for a damn bra. Sure, the bra is supportive. Sure, my shirts look better, but you need more than one bra!! How the hell can one justify this much money on a fucking bra!!! HOLY SHIT!!!  I need to take out a bank loan when it is time to purchase new bras!!

The Nordstrom's saleswoman saw me with my bras, asked if I needed help and I immediately said no. I don't give a flying rats ass that I am 40 and skinnier than I have been in decades, you bitches are not coming into the dressing room with your molesting measuring tape.

And now the saleswoman is asking if everything is alright since I have been in the dressing room for quite some time. I was in there for awhile partly due to my group text and partly because every bra I pulled gave me double boob, armpit boob, or had so many hooks I thought I was a fucking fisherman.

Damn it. Just come in and measure me. Great, now she wants to assist me in putting on my new bra. I AM FORTY!!! I CAN PUT ON MY OWN DAMN BRA!! Seriously. Is there a training lingerie sales people go through??? I want to run the next training. There IS a way to make this experience less uncomfortable. Perhaps a joke could lighten the mood?

After many different style of bras and more hooks than I can count, I was more than satisfied with what became my new bra.

The best part of the new bra - two hooks! TWO! I am not even sure how that's possible. I haven't seen two hooks since my training bra.

The worst part of the new bra - I had to sing my ABCs to figure out exactly how big my breasts are and that letter my friends: well, it only belongs in the alphabet.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Another Year? I Think Not

Two years ago we left the synagogue I called home for 38 years. For a multitude of reasons it was no longer the right fit for our family of four. So, we "shul shopped."

This year during our shul shop, we decided to pray with our Chabad Rabbi, his wife, their children, and a community we are just starting to get to know. While our daughters attend religious school with these wonderful people, our family had yet to pray with them.
(Make no mistake, at this point "these" and "them" is now an "us.")

During the service, which by the way I enjoyed, the Rabbi delivered his sermons. In years past I have listened to sermons, but not with the concentration I had this year. This year, with a smaller community, my husband on the other side of the mechitza, and my children participating in a meaningful children's program, I was able to truly listen.

The message? A new year or another year? Interesting.

As the Rabbi explained, there is always another year. The Jewish new year happens each year (and I thought so does January 1st). With two chances at a new year, was I really making it a new year or another year? The Rabbi went on to discuss how we all get another year, but it is up to us to make it a new year. Will we change how we react to people, will we change our family dynamics, will we make a conscious decision to have a true new year.

The Jewish new year this year happened right after Hurricane Harvey hit our area. Devastation occurred physically and emotionally for all those involved.

A new year? Was it possible to take something like the hurricane and find a spiritual connection to it all? Maybe, just maybe for me the hurricane is a reminder to let all the "stuff" wash away in an effort to have this new year.

My girls have a new year. It is almost inevitable. As you grow your desires, needs, expressions, mannerisms mature. As a child, your year is new whether you're in control or not. You learn new things in school, achieve new milestones, make new friends, have new, age appropriate challenges - all of which allow you the courtesy of a new year. I do not believe my children have ever had another year.

But what about us? The adults. Are we blessed with the same unconditional new year? The answer is no. We may have new challenges and new joys, but the majority of us react the same way. We continue to yell at traffic, get pissy with a friend, spouse, sibling for not meeting our expectations, experience frustrations at what could be considered small stuff, while being completely overwhelmed with the big stuff. Yes we laugh and smile, but is it the same laugh and same smile?

At 40, is it possible for me to look inward enough and guarantee myself a new year? I sure hope so. I am self aware enough to know that I have tried (for a long time now) to give myself a new year vs. another year. Some days resemble this new year. A year filled with new hopes, renewed patience, a more genuine smile, and a deeper laugh. And then there are days that resemble another year.

My prayer for this year, my new year, is that each day I remember to have this new year. I want to fulfill that promise to myself, my family, my friends. I want to be able to have a fresh outlook, see the world with a new pair of eyes, and relish in the newness that I may have forgotten. I want to let go of any judgement, anger, or frustration that I am holding onto and let it wash away with the horrific flood waters from a few weeks ago.

Another year? No.

A new year filled with hopes, possibilities, and anything else I dream?  Yes. Yes, indeed.

Thank you Rabbi. Your words are powerful.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Making A Come Back

Wow!

It has been awhile since I last blogged. My last entry was a month ago as I was bracing myself for the emotions that come with sending your last child off to Kindergarten.

Fast forward a month and I cannot even believe what has happened.

We started school! Third grade and Kindergarten! We had a wonderful three days and then school was closed. Cue: Hurricane Harvey.

My family survived Hurricane Harvey and while we did sleep in closets due to tornado warnings and we did evacuate our home, we are very fortunate to not have suffered any physical damage to our property. We have many friends and family that were not so lucky. We did, however, suffer from emotional trauma. I will not go into too much detail but protecting your children in a closet while a tornado tears through the street your friends live on is unimaginable. Evacuating your home at a moment's notice knowing your home town is under water and your current community is taking in flood waters, rips a hole in your heart. The whole experience has left all of us looking for actual blue skies and rainbows.

When we did return to our home, we had play dates with our friends to help their working parents because school was still closed. We collected items for people who lost everything in the hurricane.
As we were trying to emotionally recover from Harvey, The Weather Channel and family group texts were all on again due to Hurricane Irma. We have A LOT of family in Florida.

Again, for the most part my family was spared. We do have family that has some home damage, but we do not the extent as they have been unable to return to their home. We continue to pray for them daily.

Finally school started again (yesterday) and we literally had a SECOND first day of school.

Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year) is next week and while I typically get super anxious about The Book of Life and all it represents, I am so grateful to have a holiday that symbolizes a fresh start. It is time for a do over.

This past year was rough, emotionally. The girls had struggles from anxiety to peer pressure to social acceptance to typical growing pains and more. I felt like each week we were on this emotional roller coaster and it was anybody's guess as to which one was going to lose their shit and become hysterical.

Add to that, I really feel like my family has not recovered from my grandma dying. And when I say my family, I am not referring to just us four. My family is my aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, and my parents. Losing our matriarch was devastating. Everything is the first without her and it makes the pain that much worse. Some days are better than others, but we all miss her.

I am so grateful for all we have. I truly am. I am healthy, my girls and husband are healthy, and we are happy. But at the same time, I am actively praying for a better year for all of us.

I am not praying for happiness as that is a choice you make yourself, but rather praying for peace. I am praying the girls have peace in their hearts and in school, I am praying for peace in our home, and praying for peace in my husband's business.

Rosh Hashana begins at sundown September 20th and as my family begins to pray and celebrate this holiday I will keep my eyes on our future.

A new year awaits us and we are ready to make the most of it.



Thursday, August 17, 2017

Kindergarten Tears

In an hour E2 has meet the teacher. In an hour E2 will walk into her kindergarten room and begin her official schooling.

In an hour I will cry. I will continue to cry on the first day of school. I will not cry in front of her, but I will continue to wipe my tears as I stare at her in the rear view mirror singing along to Moana, I will wipe my tears as she and her big bow with ponytail bounce towards a play date, and I will wipe my tears when she gets off the bus for the very first time.

I know everyone tells you to enjoy them when they are little and believe me, I did. However, there is nothing enjoyable about teething, potty training, sleep training, and tantrums. Nothing. Did I wish those times away? Hell yes. Do I regret that? Fuck no. Can I still bawl like a child on the first day of kindergarten? Of course.

Whether you enjoyed the newborn stage (I loathed it), toddler stage (love), little kid stage of 3-5 years (fun), you still get to be upset (if you choose) when your baby starts kindergarten. It is the beginning of the end.

Kindergarten begins the "teachers see my kid more than I do" phase of life. And that's why I cry.

I cried when E1 started kinder and her teacher was awesome. I already know E2 has a fantastic teacher and this time around, it is even harder! I am a mess!!!

I cry because E2 will have successes and failures that I will no longer see.
I cry because E2 will learn something new and flash her awesome smile and I will not be there to witness it.
I cry because at some point she will be crying and I won't be there to hug her.
I cry because her future now belongs in someone else's hands.

We are zoned to a wonderful school. I trust the teachers immensely, but I am the ultimate mama bear and letting go of control and letting my baby grow up is tough stuff.

At the present moment I am crying, blogging about crying, and E2 is saying, "Mom! Is it time to meet my teacher? I already love her and kindergarten!"

So to E2's teachers from kindergarten through 12th grade - be kind, be mindful of your words, be generous with your smiles, and know she is an amazing kid.

Kindergarten, elementary school, and to the whole world - watch out, here comes E2! And trailing behind her is me, her mom, wiping away tears.




Sunday, August 13, 2017

Happy 6th Birthday

YOU ARE SIX!

Happy birthday, sugar! 

In the blink of an eye you are another year older and now starting kindergarten. I don't know how we got here so quickly. It is true, the days are long but the years are short. 

From the minute you were born you have had my entire heart wrapped up in your great big smile. No matter what the day brings you, you can find the joy. It is the greatest gift in the world to be able to find happiness in all you do and you, my daughter, smile brightly each and every day.

For six years I have worried. I worried when you wouldn't sleep, you wouldn't eat, you wouldn't talk. On your second birthday you had five words and ate about the same amount of foods. You were happy and content and smiled that smile, but I knew you could do more. And after six years, I still worry but I have also learned NOTHING will hold you back. Your future will be whatever you want it to be.

Your journey to six, which is so young and so old at the same time, has been long. Speech, physical and occupational therapy has been your life for four years. You have worked hard and worked with a smile. Preschool for three years brought challenges as well, and again you faced them with a smile. 

Anything you have accomplished, you have done with a smile. You know the meaning of pride. You know the meaning of hard work. You are an inspiration without even knowing it. 

Last year, when you turned five I said this was going to be "your year." And as you will learn, I am always right. 

This year, you have become a child I never dreamed possible. You squashed every worry as you began to tackle milestones and meet milestones that exceeded your age. You played softball this past year and even with your motor challenges you succeeded and were the most enthusiastic 6U softball player. The other teams would cheer for you when you hit the ball and ran to first. Everyone around you could feel the exhilaration you felt as you accomplished something so great.

Your two greatest challenges this year were learning to swim and learning to read. Learning to swim was a must from me, but I never imagined that this would become your sport. It is incredible to think at age five and half you wouldn't get your face wet and today, on your sixth birthday, you are learning to be a competitive swimmer. There is not a person in your life who is not cheering for you. Your successes have been amazing to watch.

Learning to read is no small feat. Not a day has gone by without you asking me to teach you. You want to learn and your desire to do something is all you have ever needed. Identifying letters and sounds, rhyming, beginning, medial, final sounds you have mastered. You can read small words in BOB books and want to learn more. Kindergarten is going to be a wonderful experience for you. You will take your aspirations into that classroom and become a greater version of yourself. You will learn more than academics and you will teach not only your teacher, but your classmates too how to achieve goals with strong perseverance and a smile.

I watched you this summer  and you literally swam into a different world. A world where you are no longer developmentally delayed. A world you control with that very smile you were born with.  Yes, your world will always have challenges, challenges unique to your learning style, but it is a world with endless possibilities.

It took six years for many people around you to see what I have always known - your heart, your smile, your endless zest for life is what keeps you going and what makes you capable of anything.

My birthday wish for you is your determination never dies and all your hopes and dreams come true. I look forward to seeing your toothless, six year old smile this year. 

Happy birthday, baby girl. I love you. 

Kiss, nose kiss, butterfly kiss.

Love,
Mom



Monday, July 31, 2017

Happy 9th Birthday!

Every year I sit down to write you a letter and every year I cry.
How is it possible the baby who made me a mother is nine years old?
How is it possible the teeny tiny infant weighing under 6 lbs is now a strong, beautiful young lady?

I will never forget the phone call that told me you were mine. I can still remember the weather, where I was, what was said, and the emotions that came over every inch of my body. Your birth was truly a gift from G-d.

This past year has been a roller coaster and you and I rode this ride together, but not willingly. You left the innocence of a child behind and began to experience true worries, frustrations, anger, and disappointment. You had to navigate some tough situations this year and I felt many of your growing pains. You had many struggles.

As you know, in this house we do not focus on the struggles but rather the lessons learned and the positives that have graced your life. And you, my daughter, have a wonderful life.

This year.....

You stopped tennis and found another passion, softball.
You enjoyed being on team sport and learned the joys of competition.
You rocked second grade and proved once again, you are a brilliant child.
You learned responsibility and time management.
You discovered the value of friendship.
You became aware of what a true friend looks like.
You stood up for others when no one else did.
You made positive choices when no one was looking and did not cave into peer pressure.
You experienced the loss of a loved one and were reminded how you treat your family is what is remembered.
You gained independence and started riding your bike 1 mile to the park.
You discovered the power of self reflection.
You became a more patient sister.
You realized you were more sensitive than you thought.
You recognized that others can make an impact on your life.
You embraced your own personality.
You uncovered the necessity for honesty.

On this ninth birthday, I want you to remember that you are the most amazing person. You are beautiful inside and out and even on your worst day, I love you more than the day before. Your heart is huge and you love with all your might. Your eyes are bright with a future that you will achieve because no dream is too big for you to tackle. Your smile lights up your face and makes those around you feel your joy. The loudness in your laughter fills our home and each chuckle reminds me how lucky I truly am.

I thank G-d each day you are mine. Your passion for learning and for your family is like no other. Your devotion to Judaism and G-d is inspiring. It is incredible to me that you, my nine year old, can provide me with such hope. I know you are going to change the world. Anyone that meets you, knows just how special you are in about 15 seconds.

After nine years of being your mom, I still wake up with admiration for you. You start each day anew, fresh, and willing to try things. Your stubbornness to be your best keeps you succeeding even when the odds are stacked against you. You make things happen. You take control. You live the day and pray for a better day if things did not go your way.

I cannot imagine what is in store for you this year as you enter third grade and spend your last year as a single digit.

What I do know about you, my nine year old daughter, is no matter what life throws at you, you will swing and not miss.

Happy 9th Birthday!
I love you more than yesterday,
Mom




Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tomboys In Tiaras is TWO!




Here are the top ten viewed posts of all time:

10. At What Cost

9. For My Grandma

8. PSA

7. Category 5

6. 15 Years

5. Taking The Last Step

4. 365 Days

3. Real Family

2. Unwanted Membership

And the number one post in the last two years......

1. Because I am A**Hole

Thank you to all my readers and to my family and friends who continue to support my writing and parenting journey.
This blog has been read by people in the United States, Israel, Russia, France, South Africa, Hong Kong, Brazil, Portugal, Ukraine, Canada, Argentina, Indonesia, China, Ukraine, Australia, Switzerland, and India!
Tomboys is definitely becoming a worldwide blog!
(This is so amazing to me!!)

I would like to give a special shout to my grandma in heaven because even though she is no longer calling me after every post and she is no longer commenting, I know what she is thinking and I know I am making her proud. Of everyone who has read this blog, she really was my number one fan.

HAPPY SECOND BIRTHDAY TOMBOYS IN TIARAS!

Monday, July 17, 2017

WHOLE 30 -

I just finished Whole 30.
It has been a life changing, eye opening experience. Seriously.

Thirty thoughts from my Whole 30 experience.

1. Giving up grains was tough, but necessary and not that difficult. I knew I needed to back away from the pantry.  
2. My bloated stomach was no longer bloated after a few days.
3. Brussel sprouts makes my entire family suffer from flatulence. I have never smelled so many farts in my life. ( I have an oil for tummy problems, so we kept eating them - man, I love my essential oils)
4. I learned how to prepare fish! AND it tasted amazing.
5. I missed cheese, but realized I ate WAY too much. I really love cheese. Cheese is so damn good. I didn't really care about giving up the rest of the food in the dairy category.
6. I am grateful for my friend who let me send her a text each day that I followed the program.
7. I was told give it three days and I would not miss my old foods.
8. After three days, I was still annoyed.
9. Ten days into the program and I was rocking it.
10. There is processed sugar in EVERYTHING!
11. SUGAR IS EVERYWHERE.
12. Holy shit, there is sugar in marinades on "plain grilled chicken" at a restaurant.
13. I discovered LARA bars.
14. I annoyed the crap out of my family at restaurants because I asked for all the ingredients.
15. I modeled commitment to my children.
16. FUCK! There is sugar in meats at BBQ places!!
17. I realized there would be sugar in the BBQ sauce, but it is in the rubs on the meat!
18. My clothes started to fit better after two weeks.
19. My clothes were too big after the 30 days.
20. Giving up legumes was no big deal. I needed to back away from the hummus.
21. My girls started eating more fruit. (Even E2!)
22. E1 joined me in eating more vegetables. We both like okra now.
23. I was not a daily a drinker of alcohol so I thought giving it up would be no big deal.
24. I was SO WRONG about giving up alcohol.
25. I missed red wine and vodka sodas.
26. I googled "Can I have _______ on Whole 30" frequently in the beginning.
27. I realized I knew more about healthy eating habits and basically just ignored my knowledge.
28. I lost over ten pounds and quite frankly I needed to drop that weight.
29. I stopped stress eating.
30. I AM SO PROUD OF MYSELF.

I honestly entered these 30 days because my friend lost weight and I wanted to lose some weight too. What I learned is that I am stronger than my temptations, my family benefited from an insane amount of home cooked meals, and I really do feel better without all that processed crap in my diet.

I am going to continue down the Whole 30 path, BUT I will bring back the alcohol (occasionally.)
Sometimes, this mama needs a drink! (Or two)




Thursday, July 6, 2017

Balloon Spray Paint

I saw this idea on numerous blogs and have been wanting to try it, but we did not have a balloon pump. Well, we FINALLY got a balloon pump!!!!

Supplies needed:
Paint (we used crayola washable paint)
Thumbtacks
Canvas
Balloon pump
Balloons
Something to pop the balloons - I have seen darts being used, but we just used an extra thumbtack
Optional- goggles and a smock/poncho

Instructions:
Fill the balloon with paint
Pump the balloon to desired size and tie balloon
Attach balloon to canvas with thumbtack
Repeat until the canvas is covered.
Pop balloons!!

E1 and I LOVED this project!! E2 did not want to participate in the popping of balloons, but she enjoyed watching her big sister.






Monday, June 19, 2017

P.S.A.

Alright, let's do this. Let me set the record straight once and for all.

A learning difference/disability does NOT go away. Children with learning differences succeed when they are given the tools they need to be successful. Success means the tools are working. It does not mean the disability disappeared.

For four months E2 has been in daily (Mon-Fri) swim lessons. When I enrolled her, I explained to the swim company she had a language disorder and motor planning delays. These two general categories have a list of other issues that fall underneath and I explained them all. The swim club told me they could most definitely teach her to swim. AND THEY DID. The swim club assigned E2 instructors trained in special needs (there were two she switched between). The instructors worked daily on using the same exact words for the motor planning. The instructors used shortened instructions for multiple step directions. The instructors were patient when her anxiety took over and she panicked from not remembering the motor plan even though she had just done the exact stroke three minutes prior. The instructors understood how frustrated E2 becomes when she cannot answer a question because she does not understand what they are asking. The instructors had E2 perform the strokes outside the water while she repeatedly said the motor plan with them out loud.

With daily swim lessons, special needs trained instructors, and with accommodations E2 learned to swim. She went from barely blowing bubbles to swimming the length of the pool.

The above is why I was so fucking pissed off and shocked this morning. We arrived to the swim club to see E2's instructor, Ms. D,  in clothes. I asked her if she was sick and she explained she was working afternoons. I responded saying I did not realize we were switching back to Ms. T, the other teacher. Ms. D said we were not. E2 had been assigned to someone else.

QUE THE MAMA BEAR.

I went to the front desk and firmly asked what was going on and then explained E2 is labeled in THEIR system as having special needs. The woman behind the front desk, who now looks annoyed and possibly terrified at my bugged out eyes and glare that could kill, turns to Ms. D and says, "But does she really still need the label?"

MAMA BEAR ATTACKS.

Before Ms. D can even respond I say, "I am so sorry YOU thought you could remove her label. That is not up to YOU. It is up to trained diagnosticians and therapists. It is up to me, her mother. It is not up to YOU to decide she no longer needs a label and accommodations."

With that, the manager came out and the class and teacher were switched and everything went back to normal.

In my head and to my friends, I used these words - Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME??? E2 succeeded and continues to succeed because we give her the damn accommodations! She fucking needs them!! She has a learning disability! Why the hell would I remove her label?? I am not afraid of labels. I am not afraid to admit my daughter needs help. E2 only feels different when she cannot accomplish something. She does not feel different when the help allows her to be "like everyone else." Fuck. Give the kid what she needs.

To the swim club, to parents, to school districts, here is my PSA:

Children with learning differences/disabilities do NOT outgrow them. They do NOT wake up one day and no longer have the issues. They learned compensation skills, they learned WITH accommodations, they accomplished their goals with all the tools we, their parents and educators, gave them.

When a child with special needs shows mastery of a skill it means HOW you are teaching them is working.
It does NOT mean they are no longer special needs.

Understand?
Good.



Thursday, June 15, 2017

SLIME!

E1 was BEGGING to make slime. According to her, it is the best thing. While purchasing our supplies for slime, I tried (to no avail) to explain to E1 that slime has been around for decades and I made slime as a kid.....according to the world of an 8 year old, this slime is different. Um, no it is not.

Slime Supplies:

Liquid Starch
Liquid Glue (Glitter glue is fun too)
Water
Food coloring (optional)

Mix equal parts water and glue.
Add food coloring (the darker the hue, the more apt it is to stain hands)
Slowly add liquid starch while stirring. Eventually the slime will become thick enough to no longer need a spoon. Keep adding liquid starch until consistency is sticky/slimy, yet doesn't completely stay on hands.

The more you play with the slime, the less sticky it becomes.

(Store in Tupperware containers)






Saturday, June 3, 2017

Marshmallows & Toothpicks

SUMMA-TIME!!!!!!!!

In an effort to keep up our skills during the summer, we complete many projects that are fun and have a purpose. Both girls can always benefit from any fine motor activity and any handwriting activity is "so boring."

E1 and E2 LOVE to create and build.  A box of toothpicks and mini marshmallows can provide hours of fun and work those finger muscles!

For beginners, buy normal size marshmallows and/or jumbo marshmallows. A friend of mine uses raw spaghetti noodles and gum drops to make the projects more challenging. Oh, the possibilities!

E2 created letters while E1 built 3D shapes. Language arts, math, and fine motor skills all in one lesson- #winning










Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Control

Almost two weeks ago my daughter (E1) was punched in the proverbial stomach.

While at a friend's party, another party goer was sharing information about her life. The information shared, we would come to find out, was this child's perception of her own adoption and how she was feeling about being adopted.

E1 knows she and E2 were adopted. She knows that is how they became our daughters. We also say "were adopted" - in the past, as it does not define you. How you treat people is what matters. It does not matter whether you grew in my tummy. What matters is what is right in front of you. We have told them time and time again their birth mothers were brave, strong women who not only gave them life, but took the time to find the most perfect mommy and daddy for them. They know they are loved. E1 knows all of this, but in the end our words were no match for the words coming out of the mouth of someone just like her.

When a fellow adopted 8 year old uses the word selfish to describe a birth mother, and uses the term given away and shares other negative thoughts about adoption, the aftermath for a sensitive, anxious child is unimaginable.

Each day that passed after the party was worse than the day before.  My daughter was a mess. She cried all day for three days and even missed school. She asked if her birth mother knew she would be this sensitive and is that why she gave her away. She asked if her birth mother thought she would be a horrible person and is that why she gave her away. She cried because she was crying. E1 slept on average 15 hours a day and barely ate for a week. When she was awake, she questioned everything we told her. She questioned her story, her birth mother's love, her own self worth.

How can you love a baby and give it away? How is that a selfless decision? Giving away your baby means you don't care. All of these questions as tears streamed down her once happy face. As a mother, I was at a loss. I could not do anything, but continue to tell E1 HER story, and tell her how much we loved her.

For days we went round and round. I reminded her that no one and no thing should have this much control over her. That her happiness is in her control. I told her if she made up her mind, she could just move on. Guess what - none of it worked. She is eight! How the hell can an eight year old even process adoption, someone else's adoption, and not all adoptions are the same. There are grown ass adults that to this day don't understand adoption and here was my eight year old trying to believe what we told her with a living example saying the complete opposite. She was torn between her reality and someone else's.

E1 cried at school. She was so upset, the teacher and I were texting daily. I received messages from classmate's mothers asking if she was OK because their children had come home for three days straight saying E1 was upset.

With my help, professional help, and with time E1 cried a little less. She began to tell a few friends she was adopted and was having a hard time because she heard "ugly things" about being adopted. These friends, who could not care less that she was adopted, told her not to worry. It helped, but not really.

After a full week of this, things seemed to be on the up and up. There were barely any tears last weekend and when she had them, she recited what I had told her "I am loved. I am safe. I am in control."

Memorial Day, E1 told us she was finished crying. She told us she knows her birth mother loved her, but was too young to care for her. She told us her story as we have told it to her. I reminded her that we have nothing but respect for her birth mother. We talked about how people stare at people in wheelchairs, or different hair colors, etc and discussed how brave her birth mother was to face those stares and grow a baby in her belly while walking the halls of high school. How courageous and selfless it was to grow a baby in her belly while she missed prom and other activities. How much love one woman has to grow a baby, give her life and give her parents.

E1 then tells us she is grateful that we are her parents and she is alive because after all, some women kill their babies. ( While I acknowledged what she said, we did not discuss abortions. How does she even know this stuff?)

After this discussion, life seemed to fall back in place.

Today, with all the bravery and pride E1 (with the teacher's permission) spoke to her class about her adoption story. Her adoption story filled with hope, prayer, and love. I was not there to witness this. I heard about it from her teacher, then from E1 when she got off the bus. E1 said she felt happy to tell her friends. I told her she was brave. I told her she was courageous. She smiled her smile that fills her whole face.

Today, E1 took back the control she had lost.

I know this will not be the last time E1 gets knocked down. I know children say things without thinking. I know all of this is par for the course.

What I know and how it made us all feel are two very different things.

I am so thankful E1 found peace. I am thankful she trusted us with her emotions. I am thankful for a team of friends and family and professionals that helped hold her hand.

I am also thankful tomorrow is summer - we need a break!


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Starting with Essential Oils


Building on my previous post, I feel like I owe you all an update on how things are going over here. The end of school has been stressful for both girls, and that has made for an excellent trial period!

I started with the starter kit from Young Living, became a member to enjoy wholesale prices, and then bought more oils based on suggestions by other oil users in a Facebook group I joined. Holy moly, that Facebook page taught me one important lesson: you can use the oils in many ways and their effect on people vary.

I have spoken to many friends who are laughing at my oil usage...that's OK - I don't mind. I like what I am seeing and experiencing. I have never cared about other people's opinion and I certainly won't start now.

We have had some up and downs with the oils. E2 is a terrible sleeper (if you don't know that, read other blog posts). There are oils that have helped her drift to sleep quickly and others didn't help at all. What I did find is she is sleeping more soundly. Even if the oil didn't help falling asleep, it gave her a deep sleep. After a little over a month, I have found what works for her. E2 even expresses which ones smell nicely to her and requests some oils in the diffuser. It is super cute.

The biggest change has been E1. She is still herself. She is still 8. (Lord help me when she is a teenager). The best way I can describe it is to say the oils take off the edge like if I had a glass of wine. I am still myself, but just a little chill. This is E1. Again, some oils did not do much, but others were great. A few weeks ago she trusted me to put whatever on her....just this week E1 told me which ones she thought were best. Interestingly enough, her perception matched mine. How she felt, was what I saw. She is biting her nail beds less, she is handling stress better, she has better time management. Her emotional roller coaster has changed from a ride requiring someone to be 52'' tall to ride to a roller coaster suitable for a person of 38''. Like I said, she is the same...just a more relaxed version of herself.

Do the oils work for other things besides emotions? Yes.
Have I seen that too? Yes.
Are the oils the only thing I am using for my health and for my family's health? No.
Are the oils my go to parenting strategy? No.

You still have to parent. You still have to use consequences and face consequences of poor choices. You still have to go to the doctor if you're sick. You still have to face the world you live in.

Oils don't fix a problem.
Oils, like anything else, can be PART of a solution.



(E1's oils for her school days)






Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Taking The Last Step

It is no secret that I am not perfect. My husband is not perfect. My girls are not perfect. We all have triggers that elicit a negative response from us. Adults can figure out those triggers and hopefully avoid them or learn how to react. Unfortunately children do not have the same capabilities. We, as their parents, need to help them identify their triggers.

What I had no experience in and quickly learned about was food sensitivity. I was so far from healthy, crunchy, earthy, clean eating, etc as you can get. I am not exaggerating when I tell you one of my favorite memories is introducing Ding- Dongs to E1. I love smoothing out the foil, eating the chocolate cake goodness, and licking out the filling with my tongue. Damn, I love ding-dongs.  Our pantry was stocked with Doritos, Cheetos, this chip, that chip, this candy, that candy....it was fun! I always believed if I limited what the girls could eat, they would gorge themselves as soon as they were out of my sight and then we would have a bigger issue.

Unfortunately, we learned that Red Dye #40 and High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFC) had a terrible affect on E1's personality and E2's sleep. We also realized that processed foods in general were not the greatest choice for the girls. All the chemicals and sugar would send E1 into a tail spin if she was upset. Her reaction to normal annoying things were blown way out of proportion. The spikes in her blood sugar would causes such highs and lows and watching her response to things was like watching a bomb explode. E2 would get so hyped up she could not fall asleep. She was like the energizer bunny on crack...just kept going and going and going.

Lucky for me I talk to my friends, family, and pediatrician pretty candidly. While I don't follow advice immediately I will research and then come to my own conclusion. After listening to advice and doing my own research, the hubs and I decided to do a food overhaul. This realization SUCKED. Do you know how hard it is to clean out your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer and change the diet of two girls?

A DAMN NIGHTMARE.

We started with the dyes, then the HFC, then the processed foods. In true transparency this overhaul took almost an entire school year. We would slip up, get lazy, say fuck it, and then a kid would meltdown and we would kick ourselves for giving in. I so wanted to be the house with the fun pantry, but a hyped up little sister and a ticking time bomb big sister was not worth all the ding dongs in the world.

We also bought E2 fish oil supplements for children. We learned from the many people in her village that fish oil, Omega 3, helps with brain development and it could greatly impact E2's speech and motor planning.

Fast forward to March-ish, clean eating for the majority plus fish oil. The girls' behaviors were so much better. We could literally count on one hand the extreme meltdowns. But, we were still having difficulties with E2's sleeping and E1's worries, time management, and frustrations. School mornings around here were quite annoying. E1 felt rushed and frustrated and often gave out eye rolls, grumbles, snarky comments, and that was when we were not staring at her resting bitch face. Homework time was not much better.
I had had enough.

I not so secretly would bug my sorority sister who I think is a guru in all things natural for advice. I would visit Facebook pages, internet sites, anything I could get my hands on about natural ways to help your children. I literally spent almost an entire year removing chemicals from their diet, I was not about to start putting them back in. All roads led to essential oils.
Each and every time.
And each time I laughed, rolled my eyes, and walked away. I am the biggest cynic, well second biggest to my husband. Essential oils were not going to help. What a joke. I am not sure what changed my thinking, but it was probably the realization that I was being a hypocritical asshole. If removing dyes and HFC had that big of an impact on my kids then why wouldn't a natural substance help them?

So, I took the plunge. I bought essential oils, diffusers, and went to experimenting.

This cynical asshole typing this blog is telling you with as much shock as anyone can muster up, they are working for my family. Certain oils are helping to relax E2 and she is able to fall asleep. E1 is experiencing a calmness to her that I have never seen. I diffuse oils in their room at night and diffuse during the morning routine and homework time. If seeing that change was not enough to get me believing, I tried some oils on a pain in my husband's foot he got from exercising. The next morning I asked him if his foot was feeling better and he looked at me and said, "I am embarrassed to say it does feel better." OH MY. We have become THOSE PEOPLE. We are oil people. Still, I didn't believe. All of this was luck. Coincidence. And then I used the oils on myself. DAMN IT. THEY WORK.

I am not surprised we ended up here, but at the same time I am. If you know me and even if you only know me through my blog, you KNOW I am not a bull shit type person. You make your own life. You make your own choices. No excuses.

Oils do not prevent you from making dumb choices but they can help you feel better in many ways. I am still going to doctors, I am still using western medicine - apparently this is a "fear" when you start telling people you use oils. Relax people, I am still me. I am just becoming a better me.

And the girls? The oils have completed our health transformation and were their missing link to being their best selves too.

Want to learn more about essential oils?
learn more

Want to buy essential oils? (Start with the starter kit/membership - you can buy oils wholesale afterward)
buy oils

Have questions? Email me at tomboysintiaras@gmail.com 



Friday, April 14, 2017

The Missing Earring

Shabbat dinner. A weekly celebration of G-d's creation of the world, a week's worth of trials and errors, and a time to reflect and start anew.

Tonight the four of us gathered around our dining table, said the prayers over the candles, wine, and matzah (it is also Passover), and then began to eat our meal.

E2 is extremely tired from a full "Cousin Day" of fun and is begging to go to sleep. She brings me her pajamas and changes for bed. I take out her ponytail, her earrings, etc.

E1, the hubs, and I continue to eat dinner and chat away about our days.

A few moments later I notice E2's earrings. I actually notice an earring. As in one. Shit. Where is the other earring? They are pink hearts and her favorite! Crap. Where is the other earring?

Eat, eat, eat...chat, chat, chat.....Fuck. Did I just eat the earring?

E1 goes to the restroom and I tell the hubs, "I think I ate E2's earring." He literally is like what the fuck. Now, I am feeling it in my throat. It won't budge. I ask him if I need to go to the emergency room. I ask him if it will perforate my intestines. I ask him if I need to throw up, get an x-ray, OH MY G-D, my throat really hurts!!!

E1 is now back from the bathroom and is dying to know what we are talking about and why is daddy laughing, and what am I Googling......I'll tell you what I Googled "Eating an earring." FUCK. I am reading about eating an earring and now I am laughing because OF COURSE it is all about KIDS eating things.
WHY would a FORTY year old eat an EARRING?!? How does this even happen? ONLY ME.

I tell the hubs I can feel it moving in my chest. I tell him it hurts. I tell him this cannot be good and even though Google says it will be in my shit in three days, I still think I should see a doctor. For G-d's sake I ATE AN EARRING. I am making sounds with my throat trying to cough it up, I am rubbing my neck, my chest, making more sounds....It is like I am my own symphony telling the story of an earring caught in an esophagus.

All of a sudden the hubs says, "Are you serious?!?" I look at him and he is holding the missing earring. It was apparently hiding at the other end of the table.

OOPS.

I cannot stop laughing.



Sunday, April 9, 2017

40 Friends

Last night I had the pleasure of celebrating my 40th birthday with friends. In 2005, my husband and I moved from our childhood area to the suburbs. Thirty minutes away seemed like an across country move. We lost some "city" friends, but gained an entire community. Last night proved to me once again that moving was one of the best decisions we ever made.

At (almost) 40, friends are hard to come by and I know that I am beyond blessed to have so many girlfriends standing by my side. Women get a bad rap for being gossipy and bitchy and overall, mean. I can tell you one thing, my friends are amazing and I truly believe in each and every one of them. Words will never be able to describe the joy that overcame me last night to have them all gathered in one place.

Before we ate, I gave a short toast to my friends....they deserved a night out, they put up with me!
(Thanks for celebrating with me, friends! Love ya!)

I just want to take a minute and thank you all for coming. I'm still in disbelief that in 5 days I'll be 40. 

I'm not even sad about turning 40. I'm honored and grateful. As you all know, there was a time I thought I'd never see this day - so to not only reach this milestone birthday, but to do it with all of you by my side is pretty amazing. 

My mom told me a long time ago to consider myself lucky if I could count my friends on one hand - by the looks of this room, I'm more than lucky. I'm truly blessed. 

There are literally friends in this room that have known me for more than 38 years and others I met within the last year and had an immediate bond. 

Whether you're my every day phone friend, my texting friend, my loud friend, my moral compass friend, my funny friend, my "rock" friend, my let me complain to you about my husband friend, my fellow f bomb dropper friend, my childhood friend, my bad influence friend, my give me all your advice friend, my get drunk friend, my good friend, my best friend, my mom friend, my walking friend, my sushi and wine friend,  know how much I care for you and how much I appreciate your friendship because at the end of the day - you're my FRIEND. 

Everyone in this room has a purpose in my life and I promise not only do I see what each of you has brought me, I feel honored that our paths have crossed and continue to be intertwined.  

All of you are important to me and if for some reason I've never thanked you- I'm doing it now. 

Thank you for putting up with me. I'm an emotional, annoying, loud, obnoxious, loyal, funny person and as you all know with every cuss word that comes flying out of my mouth, my heart of gold is following right behind. I thank you for taking the time to get to know me, to let me grow and change, and most importantly, I thank each of you for being you. 

You are all amazing and at 39 and 360 days, I'm proud to call each of you my friend. 

And because no speech would be complete without it, FUCK!  I'm 40!!



Thursday, March 16, 2017

Growing up sucks

Today we went to a carnival.....today I realized more than any other day I have an 8 year old and a 5 year old. Or as they like to say "almost 9" and "almost 6."

E1 has been tall enough to ride all the rides for quite some time and today, at 42" short, E2 was able to ride numerous rides. E1 was bored on baby rides when just last year she was all smiles. E2 loved the independence of being able to ride without a companion. Today, we did not bring our stroller. And tonight, I cry. I am sad that our stroller days are over. I actually told the hubs, "We need to adopt a third. I need a baby. Now."

They are growing up and I love all the new adventures we can experience because they are older, but I hate that cartoons are being replaced by "real" TV. I hate that bedtime is getting later because a full day of activities no longer exhausts them by 7:00 pm. And I really hate all the damn opinions that come with more mature girls.

8 year olds suck. I am saying it and I am mean it. What a crappy age. 8 is young, but old enough to know better. 8 is immature, but mature enough to understand peer pressure. 8 needs help, but only wants independence. 8 is a daily struggle. My beautiful, bright, brown eyed girl struggles each day with wanting to be older, but still needing her mom. She goes from sweet and kind to a pre-hormonal raging bitch in 30 seconds or less. I hate 8. Every single day I wonder if my little girl and I are going to hang out or if my "pre" pre-teen is going to come down the stairs with the best resting bitch face I have ever seen. I hate 8. Playing with toys is fleeting and the board games she chooses makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a fork. 8 is tough. She is not ready for the pre-teen topics and pre-teen life, but she is outgrowing her little girl life quickly. 8 makes me cry on the regular. E1 is putting together her world, her family, and my glossing over responses no longer cut it. She needs details. She wants to understand her new world, but her heart is still so young. I really hate 8.

On the other end of the spectrum, 5 is still a favorite age of mine. E2 is happy, young, naive, and it is blissful. It is the great age of complete sentences, the ability to do small tasks on her own, but the age when a hug and a kiss from mom cures everything. E2 getting older has thrown me off my game this year. It is hard to admit, but when you're kid starts therapies at 22 months it is hard to imagine a time when they are all caught up or a time when what needs to be accomplished will have to come in its own time. E2's to do list was extensive and for the past 3, almost 4 years we have slowly checked off milestones. Somehow I have nothing left to check off. At 5, she speaks beautifully, rides a two wheel bike, socializes with friends, makes her opinions known, eats typical food, wears the right size clothing for her age, recalls her days and retells the stories, and now she swims. E2 argues with E1, reminds me when I forget something, cries when she is frustrated. A year ago, the world around her had no meaning and now - she is a part of her world. I love watching her get older, but to know she starts kindergarten has me crying like a newborn baby. I don't even know how we got here. I don't know how I will log on to the district website in a few weeks and register my baby for kindergarten. Homeschooling is looking like a great idea (again). I cannot "lose my baby." I know I must. She is ready and if you don't believe me, my almost 6 year old will tell you she is ready.

Growing up sucks for the mommies.

Stupid 8 and 5 - soon to be 9 and 6.
Stupid preschool graduation soon to be kindergarten
Stupid second grade soon to be third grade
Stupid no more strollers

Mama wants her babies back.
Well, babies that sleep through night because I am in no mood to be awake at 3 in the morning.

And...pray for my husband. Three women under one roof is no easy feat.




Friday, March 3, 2017

Thirteen


Two days ago I gave blood as part of my bi-annual check up. I sat in a chair and stuck out my arm so the phlebotomist could take my blood. The phlebotomists for the most part are nice, but holy hell they are chatty. The people that work at a cancer hospital try so hard to make the patients happy. They are as nice as Disney employees. So Chatty Cathy over here with a damn needle in her hand, aimed for my vein, proceeds to tell me I need a type and screen for my procedure and they are going to take extra blood. Um, hey lady - I don't have a procedure. She says that I do. We go round and round like 3 year olds with "Yes you do" and "No I don't." While we are arguing, I email my nurse (whom I love) and ask her what the hell. As I am typing the email, Chatty Cathy says, "Well - the only other reason we do a type and screen is for someone who has been here a long time. Have you been a patient a long time?"

Have you been a patient a long time?

Yesterday, I went for my follow up appointment with my oncologist. I was not nervous because Nurse A had already called me to tell me I was fine. My doctor's other amazing nurse came out to get me. We chatted while my vitals were being taken. As I verified my date of birth, Nurse C says, "GIRL!! YOU'RE ABOUT TO BE 40!" I laughed and she then said, "Wow, I have known you a long time."

Wow, I have known you a long time.

I am healthy. I am alive. My remission status is stable.

I left the hospital, called my mom so she would stop freaking out, and then cried. I cried for the very reason I smile. It has been THIRTEEN years and while I am so thankful, I am terrified at the same time. Thirteen years ago, a different doctor told me I would be dead within five years. I was 27 at the time. And now thirteen years later, it is that memory I hold onto. The memory of being told I had five years to live, max.

Turning 40 means the world to me. I never thought I would see 40. I never thought I would be a mom. I never thought I would have a life. To face your own mortality gives you a perspective you cannot undo.

For thirteen years, I've woken every morning thankful.
For thirteen years, I have prayed nightly for another day.

Nothing good comes from fear except for my desire to live and then to make the most of each day.

When I let my preschooler miss a day of school because she wants to stay home.
When I take my girls for frozen yogurt.
When I play Candy Land.
When I decorate like crazy for birthdays.
When I go over and beyond.
When I travel.
When I laugh.
When I smile.
When I am truthful.

I do all these things because at one point in my life I thought I would never get to and because I never know if it will be the last time. From an outsider's perspective, this is morbid. I understand this. From my perspective, it allows me to really think and consider is this really how I want to spend my day.

When I discipline my child for being sassy.
When I limit her screens and social media.
When I make the girls learn life lessons even though they are throwing temper tantrums.
When I say no.
When I get aggravated.
When I let my emotions get the best of me.
When I stand up for what I believe in.

I do all these things because at one point in my life I thought I would never get to and because I never know if it will be the last time. I do all these things because I am true to myself. I am honest with myself. I live each day for myself and for those that are important to me.

I have one chance to make sure my girls become phenomenal women.
I have one chance to teach them independence, self worth, and kindness.
I have one chance to be a parent.
I have one chance to be a wife.
I have one chance to be a friend.
I have one chance to be a sister, a cousin, a niece, an aunt.
And I don't know when that one chance will end.

There are days that I make a fuck ton (in case you're wondering that's more than a shit ton) of mistakes.
There are days I take risks with my own life and then think to myself you're an idiot.
There are days I think too much and act too little.
There are days I act without thinking.

To hear the words "long time" from people at a cancer hospital is both exhilarating and startling.
To hear the words "long time" let's you know you are beating the odds. In fact, you are kicking the shit out of the odds.
To hear the words "long time" makes you realize the last thirteen years went by so quickly.
To hear the words "long time" gives you the realization that each day, each week, each month, each year is a gift.

I made a promise to myself, my family, my friends, my children to give it my all and in this house we don't break promises. Not ever.

I am strong in my faith to know I still have more time and I still have great things to accomplish.
But I'd be lying if I didn't say the thought of tomorrow never coming is what keeps me awake at night and what keeps me going each day.















Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Just Complaining

February has been all around NUTS! It has been a roller coaster over here. This parenthood thing had me all worked up these past few weeks.

When we arrived home from Costa Rica, the girls were very excited and very clingy. E1 seemed to bounce back after a day, falling into her usual schedule. E2, well that kid is a different breed. She is back to crying when we leave her with a sitter, back to asking me to lay with her every single night, and back to crying out for me in the middle night. She has repeatedly told me never to leave her again. I am trying to maintain normalcy over here, but her sweet smile melts my heart and eventually my mommy heart breaks and I give in to her. We still go out on a Saturday night and I still tutor two afternoons a week, but her interactions with the babysitter are different. Not bad, just different. My heart breaks, but my mind knows E2 will eventually get her groove back....after she stops crying and saying, "Why are you leaving me again?"

E1 is having a "stressful" school year. On the surface things seem great, but deep down she is a stress case. She puts tons of pressure on herself and with second grade being the first time receiving numerical grades, the pressure got worse. Last week she cried when she made a 94 on a test. She wanted a 100. TEARS. And not tears for attention, actual tears of sadness and disappointment. As parents we had to rethink all our parenting strategies and expectations. There is no need for an ulcer at age 8. Yesterday, I sat down E1 and explained while school was important we are no longer focusing on her grades. We are going to focus on effort. If she does her best, that is all that matters. I do not care if her best is a B or an A or even another letter grade - as long as she tried. I told her second grade should still be "fun" and she needed to concentrate on having a good time with her friends at lunch and recess and simply relax and do the work during class. I have no idea if this pep talk will work. I have no idea if I will literally have to throw away her work without looking at the grades for her to believe me, but what I do know - an 8 year old should never be crying about grades in school. Second grade is too serious. I fucking hate school.

E2 and I faced our fears and E2 started swim lessons. Yes, OUR fears. E2 has been fearful of getting her face wet even though she has always loved the water. She has been in a floatie since her first summer which has kept me in a state of fear each and every time summer approached. Between speech, PT, and OT she was not ready to learn to swim. With PT and OT behind us, I finally had time to realize that E2 is now 5.5 and will literally drown if she fell into a pool. Cue major anxiety. Friends of mine suggested an intense swim program offered at a local swim club. Last week E2, the child who refused to get her face wet, started intense daily swim lessons. There have been emotions ranging from terror to excitement and E2 is learning to swim. Legit, swim. She is succeeding beyond my wildest dreams. Hallelujah for checking off another item on the E2 To Do List.

Adding to my crazy, the hubs is in Australia for two damn weeks. Do not feel too badly for me, I have a friend whose husband is gone for almost three months for work. She is the true superhero in my subdivision. Back to my annoying two weeks....I HATE waking E2 to take E1 to school. I HATE having nothing to do on the weekends. I HATE having no one to talk at night. And I HATE that the girls miss him and a certain 8 year old is acting like an asshat. The plus side: I have majorly cleaned out closets, caught up on so much laundry I am embarrassed I was ever that far behind, and am watching all the BRAVO I want without anyone saying my show is stupid.

Another thing taking up all my time? My 8 year old. Dude. This age SUCKS. I actually think it is worse than three. E1 is sweet, empathetic, kind, a great friend - for a real, a wonderful child. But recently, hot damn she is annoying. From being bitchy to snotty to snappy, I have started to wish for the nice dwarfs like Goofy and Happy. Nothing is good enough, always complaining UNLESS she is off on her bike playing with her friends. Truth: fine by me - get on your bike and go. You have been home from school for 30 minutes and I already want to yell at you for your attitude. I am starting to truly worry if I will survive her puberty. It is no coincidence I taught 2nd grade for two years before realizing, I prefer junior high. Second grade sucks! These kids are stuck between growing up and still needing a hug when they are crying and all worked up. Some days I wish I could scream, "Snap out of it, bitch!"

Another time suck? E1 and E2 are playing softball this semester. I did luck out and one night a week they both have practice, but we basically live at the ball fields. With practices and games, I am already praying for rain. They both have two practices a week, but E2 does not go to one of hers. Her second practice is Friday night 7-8 pm. First, we have Shabbat dinner. Second, my five year is not going to practice at 7 pm. It is tee-ball. Go fuck yourself.

This parenting thing is hard work. School, therapies, after school activities, homework, tests, projects, play dates.... I am exhausted.

Yes, I am bitching. Sometimes it is necessary.

I am now going to take some Imodium for my diarrhea of the mouth.







Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Vacation, Not A Trip

In 48 hours the hubs and I are going on a vacation. A real vacation. Not a trip. What is the difference? Kids. Our girls are staying home. We are headed to Costa Rica for 5 nights and 6 days without our children.

And I am having a mild panic attack.

I am a planner. We all know this. We have been planning a 15th wedding anniversary trip for almost a year. When we finally decided where to go, we had to decide when to go. Costa Rica has amazing weather and that amazing weather is now which is great timing because our anniversary is now. What is not great timing is my mom's work schedule and her inability to watch our kids.

So.....I did what any normal mom would do. I called my overprotective friends and went on the hunt for a sitter. It was surprisingly easy to find someone to watch our girls. What is even better is our sitter is a child care specialist at a local hospital - jackpot. Background check? Yes. References? Yes. More than capable of watching our girls? Yes.

In the last months, she has babysat for us and gotten to know E1 and E2. She is now not a stranger. She is a fully capable adult who is sweet, caring, and a great person.  As I am typing this, it lowers my stress because I know we have a the best of the best (next to family) staying with the girls.

But there is so much stress in planning a vacation, not a trip.

My kids (mainly E1) are worried about the minutia of our daily lives. And that is an endless list!
E2 really just wants to know how many sleeps until we come home.

I literally have written a book, well it feels like a book for Miss K. Thank the lord she does not mind, well she says that now - wait until she reads it all.

From braiding hair to lunch.
From nightlights to no crusts on sandwiches.
From play dates to the alarm code.
From the dog to dinners in the freezer.
From the back up dinners to the numbers of 15 friends plus family that can help.
From mourning routines to bed time routines.
From arts & crafts projects to softball tryouts.
From texting to FaceTime.
I have written it ALL out.
ANYTHING you can imagine, is written out.
She has notes of where we keep our medicine and how much the girls weigh, notes about screen time, notes about homework, notes about drop off, pick up, speech therapy...notes about EVERYTHING.

You know what I learned from all these notes? I do a SHIT TON! Holy motherhood! I am rocking this bitch.

And now Daddy guilt has come to play in this game of planning our vacation, not a trip. The hubs has been gone all week for work and we are leaving in 48 hours. This is not a good combo. The amount that is in our fucking amazon cart is embarrassing. Beanie boos, books, more arts & crafts all for E1 and E2 if they basically behave for Miss K. Why we are bribing our already behaved children is beyond my understanding. But then again, Daddy guilt is a real disease and I have no cure.

While the girls (again, just E1) are worried sick about my absence, I am planning for worst case scenario.

Here is the number to the pediatrician, here is our car insurance,  here is our health insurance card, here is a medical power of attorney, here is our will, and yes, I sent the teachers emails letting them know we were going to be out of the country and please contact Miss K in an emergency. (And please give my babies extra hugs!!)

I KNOW we will be fine, but all of this writing and prepping gave me an odd sense of peace.
I did not leave a stone unturned.

Lists are completed. Schedules are lined up and completed. Friends know. Family knows. Teachers know. Girls know and are as prepared as possible. I even cleaned out Five Below with fun new projects to complete with Miss K!

I am exhausted from planning this vacation, not a trip. Thank goodness we are going on a vacation! This is going to be great for all of us. Our girls will gain independence and confidence while seeing a positive example of a marriage being celebrated. My husband and I will a get a trip of a lifetime and time together with what I am hoping will be minimal stress.

It is now Wednesday late afternoon. We leave at the ass crack of dawn Saturday and I have not started packing. I am, however,  finished with my "sub plans."




Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Hatchimal Hater

WARNING: HIGH LEVELS OF PROFANITY

Hi. My name is Mom and I am a Hatchimal Hater.

The issue?

My girls are Hatchimal Lovers. These dumb fucking toys have aggravated me since they were opened. E1's hatchimal hatched within 20 minutes. E2's did not hatch right away. That night, we sent both girls to bed and literally googled "What if my Hatchimal doesn't hatch." E2 slept off and on crying, "Why my hatchimal didn't hatch?" "Maybe tomorrow?"

E2 was brought out of bed (I could not hear her cry anymore) and we worked and worked to get this damn fucking creature to come out of its mother fucking egg. Do you know how to get a Hatchimal to hatch? You must rub the egg. You must play with the egg. I don't know if E2's egg needed some damn Viagra or what, but we stroked and rubbed and caressed that egg like it was a 70 year old penis that needed to get up. After almost 30 minutes of being molested, the damn thing finally hatched. (Mind you we had rubbed the shit out of this thing when she first opened it.)

Now, here we are weeks after Hanukkah and these fuckers are the gifts that keep on giving migraines. They make noises, they move, they repeat things you say, their eyes glow! They are weird, bizarre battery operated toys that my girls turn on every.single.damn.day. If E1 and E2 are awake, Hatchimal is awake. The girls take such good care of these toys that I NOW know they are actually capable of keeping track of their crap.

And the poor dog!!! They like to play with the toy around the dog. The girls think it is funny to see the dog's reaction to the noises they make. I am almost positive the dog will need Xanax if these toys don't get the hell out of our house soon.

Hatchimals have phases....baby, toddler, and I don't know what else because I threw away the fucking instructions in hopes the girls wouldn't know how to play with them. (That didn't work if you are wondering). In some phase, you can teach your stupid asshat hatchimal how to do things. E1 figured this shit out. E2 cannot get hers to learn. Maybe it cannot learn because it is STUPID!!! E1 tries to help E2 and that is like a cat trying to teach a dog how to purr....it aint gonna happen.

Did I mention this happens every.fucking.day??

OH MY I HATE HATCHIMALS!!!!!!

And the only toy to top the annoying Hatchimal?
Zoomer Kitty and his best friend Zoomer Chimp.

To my amazing cousin who found the impossible to find Hatchimals - I curse you.
And to my amazing mom who purchased our Zoomer friends - say no to your grandkids.

Cherry on top? Zoomer fucking kitty and chimp charge with a USB cord...there is no "We do not have any batteries, sorry." excuse.

I pray the Hatchimal batteries die soon. Little Live Pet (bird) died the same way.

Funny how the girls never notice we have batteries for everything, BUT their toys.

(E2's hatchimal)             (E1's hatchimal)

Zoomer fucking Kitty

**Zoomer Chimp not pictured. His ass is still in the box**