Monday, December 31, 2012

The Year in Review

It's the last day of 2012.  I'm not sorry to see this year go but less so than last year. It's been a pretty decent year, all things considered.

Let's review shall we....

I finished chemo, radiation and herceptin. I was officially declared cancer free. That right there makes this past year the best possible year it could have been (I say because ideally I would have never had cancer but had no say in that department)

I made arrangements for a new boob.

I went back to work. The jury is still out on how I feel about that. I love my job but am not overly happy about the environment and need to make some big decisions about my future at this school.

I traveled. I took a chance and did something I never thought I'd do, much less do alone. And I loved it!

I look back at 2012 and I have only one regret. I regret going back to work when I did. Hindsight is 20/20 and if I had the time back I'd have stayed off work until this past September, regardless of the financial strain.   But, done bun can't be undone so there's no point in harping on it.

So last year at this time I set some goals for the year. How many did I accomplish? Let's see shall we?

The words in red are the goals I set in my blog at this time last year.

1. This might be painfully obvious but my first and biggest goal is to beat cancer. I want to be a survivor. And not just this year but every year. When we do the Relay for Life in June I want to walk that survivor lap and wear the yellow shirt. I want to start my cancer free countdown.

Happily, this is a goal I did accomplish. I did walk my survivor lap and while mother nature put a bit of a damper on my night I still held my head high and proud as I walked with so many other cancer warriors

2. I'm going to get healthy. Not just cancer free but healthy. I joined the gym last year and I loved it. I'm going to do that again, as soon as I get the okay from the Dr. I'm going to exercise, get fit and eat right. Probably not all the time, let's be honest, but a whole lot more than now. I'm not going to indulge weekly, but maybe once a month. I need to get healthy in order to accomplish my first goal.

Isn't this a goal that everyone sets and never accomplishes? Well, most people anyway. I'm sure I'll set that goal again and hopefully I'll actually reach it this year - I want to look good in a bathing suit when I go to Florida, even if it means I have to buy a new prosthetic to match the other boob - even though shortly after that I'll be having surgery to have my new boob made.  But really, I'd like to like how I look in pictures.

3. I'm going to take more pictures. I know I already take a million but I'm going to take more. I have a fabulous lens but I'm still learning how to use it. I'm going to do that this year and have some fabulous shots.

Oh, I most certainly accomplished this goal. As I type this I am downloading 1644 pictures from my computer to a memory stick...and those are just the ones I felt worthy of keeping. I also got a new lens for Christmas this year so I'll undoubtedly continue the trend.

4. I'm going to make some great memories with my kids this year. I'm not sure what yet, but something that they'll always look back fondly on.

I guess I'd have to ask them about this, if I did or not. It's not really something I can answer now, but years from now. We did some fun stuff this summer. We had some fun times at home too. I hope I'm creating good memories with them.

5. I'm going to do something for me. As Mom's we often put our families first, and rightfully so but the events of the past few months have taught me that it's okay to take time for yourself too, to be selfish sometimes and to do things for yourself occasionally.

I did this! I try and take time for myself daily but I think the real thing for me was my trip to BC (which actually covered goal number 7 too!) I traveled to someplace I'd never been, that I wanted to go because I wanted to. I didn't have to worry about whether or not Sean or the kids were having fun and I got to do what I wanted to do. That truly was for me. And I hope to do it again!

6. I'm going to let my family and friends know each and every day that I love and appreciate them.

I'd like to say I did this but I know I'm guilty of not always doing so. I'll try harder in 2013

7. I will meet another PP Mom. At last count there were over 30 and I've only met 2. I have a lot of hugs to dish out.
See number 5 above. I got to hug not one but two of my fellow PP mom's and it was fantastic!!

8. I will finish writing the book I've been working on. It might never get read and likely never published but at least it will get written.

Yeah, let's not go here. I actually just deleted the whole thing. It sucked. Time to move on. On a related note I just dropped a picture book manuscript in the mail today. If you don't try, you'll never success and I just remind myself that Dr. Seuss was rejected 56 times before his first book was published.

Overall, that seems like a pretty successful year.

I've experienced first hand how quickly and drastically your life can change. I know that the plans you make may not usually won't work out but I think the true measure of someone's strength and character is being able to adapt to what life throws at you. Because really, it's those bumps in the road that make life living.

I do have a set of goals for 2013 but I'll make that a different post.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's All About the Box.

Any parent will tell you that Christmas with young children can often be hit or miss. You can spend a small fortune on toys and the kids end up playing with the box.
I got smart this year though. I bought my kids boxes.

Mary got a cardboard box house.
Connor got a cardboard box rocket ship.

As I was putting together Mary's house for her the other day (it's huge and takes up most of her bedroom. Hindsight being what it is, I should have put it up in the playroom) I was thinking about how she's 10 years old and still excited about playing with a box.

Christmas shopping was tough for her this year. She likes some big kid things like these dinguses guys

But she also still likes toys and on the top of her list is Monster High Dolls. She also got a Furby for Christmas (a bit of a snafu, it was supposed to be for Connor but then I realized it wasn' a Furby he was telling me about and in fact, he didn't even want a Furby)

Mary is not the most mature 10 year old. I know that. It used to worry me but then I really took time to think about it. I'm thrilled that my 10 yr old still plays with toys, believes in Santa and has an imagination. I'm glad she doesn't worry about clothes, boys (well, she did have that one crush) make up and being cool.

Mary is unique, out there, wild and crazy and not afraid to be herself.

My 10 year old got a box for Christmas and I've seen her play some pretty creative games with it already.  In short, my child is still a child and I couldn't be happier!

Tomorrow is new years eve. We're going to have a nice quiet evening at home, with junk food, games and movies. It's also time for me to review the goals I set for this year and see if I actually accomplished any of them. And to set new ones for 2013.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas

Christmas Christmas time is here, time for joy and time for cheer.....

I love love love Christmas. It's my most favorite time of the year. I love the build up. I love the shopping. I love the crowds. I love the time off work (heehee) I love the excitement my kids have. I love the excitment I have.

It's hard to put me in a bad mood at this time of year.

I've found it a bit of a challenge to buy gifts for my two younger kids this year. In years past it was Emily that was hard to buy for but this year, Connor and Mary are the challenge.

Mary is at that in between age, 10. She's still into toys (Monster High Dolls) but she also likes the same things her sister likes (One Direction)

Connor has the misfortune of being the third child to a mother who had a home daycare - we already have just about every toy known to man. And he doesn't really ask for anything.

Emily on the other hand has very specific requests. She wants a tna sweater. She wants roots pants. She wants One Direction tickets.

Well, as much as it pained me to spend $70 on a pair of pants I obliged with the roots pants and tna sweater. One Direction was a no go but my brother was able to score tickets for Justin Bieber for her and her bff. Looks like it will be a very Merry Christmas for both of them!

I'm going to spend the next two weeks relaxing, enjoying my time home with the kids and feeling blessed to be here, to be healthy and looking forward to 2013.

Friday, December 14, 2012

What Is There To Say?

The senseless tragedy that happened today in Connecticut has so many of us wondering what has happened to our world. What kind of person guns down 20 small children?

20 children. That's 2/3 of my kindergarten class. I love these children and would be devastated if something terrible happened to even one of them.

I have a child in kindergarten (and older grades for that matter). As parents we take for granted that our children will go off to school and come back to us in the afternoon alive and well.

But for 20 families today that was not the reality.

My prayers go out to all of the families and loved ones of all the victims in Newtown, CT. today.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

How Do They Do It?

I know a few women, both IRL and online who's children who have had serious medical issues. Some had birth defects that had to be addressed with medical intervention and some have had a child with cancer.

One of my blogging friends has a teenage son who had cancer at the same time I did and I can remember her telling me how strong I was and I was thinking, "are you kidding me?" I think it's so much easier to go through it yourself than to watch a loved one going through it and I couldn't don't want to fathom one of my children going through it. I think that is where the real strength lies.

It's in the spirit that I write this post.

But I also want to preface this by saying that I am NOT comparing this situation to a child with cancer because they're not even in the same galaxy. But what it brought to light for me was an idea of the true strength of these parents.

I took Connor to the dentist on Saturday for a routine check up. He wasn't in the chair 12 seconds when the hygienist said "Oh, I see a problem." Cavities, big ones, in his molars. But not just one, or even two. 6. Yes, 6. And that was the ones they could see, they haven't done x rays yet.

The hygienist did her best to clean his teeth and the dentist did his best to look in his mouth but Connor is a less than cooperative dental patient. Our dentist recommended he go to a child specialist.

The whole situation smacked of my childhood. You see, I am cursed by genetics. I have horrible teeth. So did my mom. So does my oldest brother. I can brush and floss after every single meal and I'm still getting cavities. I have virtually no enamel. And because this was an issue from an early age my association with the dentist is pain, discomfort and misery. (more so than most people) I too had to go to a child specialist.

But I vowed my kids would not see going to the dentist as a horrible thing and so far I've been lucky.

My luck has run out.

So I took Connor to the specialist last night. He's got 6 visible cavities and the dentist is going to do sleep dentistry.

They're going to put him to sleep for roughly 1.5 hours to take x rays and fill these 6 (maybe more) cavities.

At the mention of anesthesia my anxiety level went from 5 to 107,000,000. 

They have to put him to sleep. If you've been reading my blog long enough you know that there was some question about my being allergic to general anesthetic. I almost died when I was 7 after my tonsillectomy. When I had my mastectomy I was more anxious about being put to sleep than I was about the cancer itself.

I left the dentists office and made it to my car before the tears came.

And how stupid is that? It's dental work for Heaven's sake. It could be a hell of a lot worse....and any of my friends who have had a child who have dealt with anything remotely worse than this are shaking their heads at me and thinking "you stupid bitch, I'd give my right arm for the worst thing for my child to have to deal with being 6 stupid cavities. Suck it up buttercup!"

And while I know this and feel ashamed for being as upset about this as I am, I can't change that fact. I'm terrified about them putting him to sleep. I'm terrified of him reacting the same way I did. I'm afraid of losing him because of something as ridiculous as a cavity.

And as I type those words I know how ridiculous it sounds because I know there are so many mothers and fathers out there who are in the very real position of losing their child to something significant.

And yet, you can't change how you feel.

I'm sure on the afternoon of January 4th when we're home and Connor is annoying his sisters and complaining his jaw hurts I'll look back on this and realize how minor it really is. But for now, it seems huge.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I Caved

I'm sure if I go back far enough my blog I will find the post in which I talked about how I'll never own a smart phone. I didn't need to be that connected all the time. I didn't need 24/7 access to the internet and my email.

The truth is, I still don't.

But I caved non the less.

I got an iPhone.

I've reached that point in my life where Sean asks me what I want for Christmas and I'm at a loss. It's not that I don't want things. I want lots of things. But I weight the wants vs the needs and the 'do I really want to spend that kind of money on that?'

I can ask for clothes. But I've already got a lot of clothes and frankly, I'm just not that into fashion. I have clothes for work and clothes for weekends and to be honest, most of the time at home I'm in my pajamas.

I got my laptop. I've got my amazing camera and though I want some new lenses most of them fall into that 'I don't want to pay that much for that' category.

I don't need anymore kitchen gadgets and my girlfriend downloaded something like 100 books on my Kobo.

So, I'm asking for little things, a new mouse for my computer. A laptop cooling pad. A new winter coat.

And an iPhone.

There have been no fewer than 5 occasions in the past month that I've needed access to the internet while out of the house and have not had it. There was the trip to the farm a few weeks ago with my class where I forgot to bring the memory card for my camera and couldn't take any pictures (because on my old phone the camera is a piece of crap and even if it wasn't I don't know how to get the pics from the phone to the computer)

All issues that could have been avoided if I'd had an iPhone.

So last night Sean and I went to the store and got me a brand spankin' new iPhone. And a case. Merry Christmas to me.

And now, despite the fact that I vowed in the past to never own a smart phone I'm making a new vow.

I will NOT become one of those people who has their face stuck in their phone during dinner, conversation, social events, etc.  Because that is one of my all time biggest pet peeves.

And now that I've got my Christmas present 16 days early Sean can fill the gap with the little gifts that I've asked for.

Merry Christmas to me!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Happy Holidays? Thanks!

It's that time of year again. Endless facebook posts pop up about keeping Christ in Christmas and my personal favorite "Welcome to Canada where we say Merry Christmas instead of happy holidays."

But here's what I don't get. What is so wrong about saying happy holidays?

Here's my two cents.

I understand that Canada is considered a Christian country. Christian holidays are also Federal holidays. But why does that mean the face of Canada is a white Christian? Why is the face of Canada not a Hindu from India? Or a Buddhist from Korea?

I see the confusion - how is someone from India the face of Canada?

In 2001 Stats Can said there were 34 ethnic groups with over 100,000 members of each living as Canadian Citizens.

Now, in my mind this is not an immigration debate, people immigrate here for various reasons and we let them in. And yes, I do agree that to an extent when one immigrates to a new country one should do their best to acclimate to the new country and what we believe to be culturally acceptable.

But does that mean everyone who immigrates to Canada should denounce their religion and become Christian? No, absolutely not and I would have no respect for anyone who did not hold on to their spiritual beliefs (unless they've genuinely changed their minds)

Here's my point. If I know you and I know you're Christian - I'll say Merry Christmas. But if I don't know - where is the harm in saying Happy Holidays? Or, for that matter, what is wrong with a blanket Happy Holidays statement anyway? Check the calendar - Christmas is not the only holiday in December. Hanukkah is another big one. So is Kwanzaa (and in fact many Christians also celebrate Kwanzaa)

Do I only give a seasonal greeting to my fellow Christians? Of course not. My oncologist is Jewish - I hope he has a happy Hanukkah but I also hope my Christian nurses have a Merry Christmas. Here is just such an occasion when a Happy Holidays card is PERFECT!

What I find the most ironic about this whole thing is that often times the people shouting the loudest about keeping Christ in Christmas are the very same people who rarely, if ever, set foot in a church, and go overboard crazy over the secular side of Christmas - themselves forgetting the 'reason for the season.'  I am by no means Super Catholic - I only go to church once or twice a month and yes, I too go overboard for Christmas but I've not forgotten the meaning of Christmas. If I wish someone a happy holidays it's not because I've forgotten I'm celebrating the birth of my Lord - it's simply that I understand and have accepted that you may not be.

And I will not be offended if someone wishes me a happy holidays or a seasons greetings.

Because, for me anyway, I'd rather you give me a blanket sentiment than nothing at all.

Happy Holidays
Seasons Greetings
and Merry Christmas!