Do you believe?

santa claus images

I know people who have made the decision to tell their children that there is no Santa. Not because the child asked questions but because they were going to find out anyway. Before I give my opinion on that, let’s recap the first few minutes of the news cast I tuned into last night. Missing college student last seen at a bar well over a week ago disappeared without a trace. 17-year-old boy brutally attacked in an alley after leaving a party, caught on tape. Of course they show this tape over and over. There seems to be controversy over some grandmothers taped smoking pot and some local daycare conditions are filthy. There was a sexual assaults, we are waiting for DNA results in an old unsolved murder mystery and of course continued updates on riots and protests. Retail sales are down and the recent jobs numbers cheered by some are being shown to be “padded” creating only cheap part-time hourly jobs while full-time family supporting jobs actually saw a sharp decline. The economy is stagnant, the country is more split than ever in my life and the future seems just as bleak.Weihnachtsmann mit Rentierschlitten und Sternschnuppe

So, back to the situation with Santa and a question, what is wrong with a little magic? We all want to believe that magic is real. What is so wrong with allowing our youth to stay innocent as long as possible? The world is big and at times very harsh and ugly and in time everyone will have to face it head on. Is it so wrong to allow our 10 year olds to hold on the belief in a jolly old magical being for just one more year?  To allow them to feel safe watched over by loving beings?detail_450_10460

Many of us have the elves, those crazy little toys that we curse nightly as we climb and stretch moving them around trying to add a little extra magic to the season. Why? Because of the glow in the faces of my girls and millions of other children who wake each morning running through the house to see what the elf did last night after returning from the daily reporting trip to Santa. This year Santa Claus actually sent letters to the girls though the mail. They received them yesterday in the mailbox.  Pure childhood fascination swept over both as they read them, thrilled that Santa knew names of friends and teachers as well as things they are interested in. Those letters are now hanging on the refrigerator and have been read at least 20 times.  elf-on-the-shelf

It has been a tough year for our family as it has for many.  The amount of presents under the tree will be smaller.  It would be easy to allow the stress of the year to bring us down.  Instead I find this more motivation to get into the spirit and share some Christmas warmth.

I believe because my girls believe.

I believe because there is a true joy allowing yourself to be swept up in the magic.

I believe because the sound of Christmas bells are a happy and joyous sound, and I still hear them :-)

I believe because the smell of cinnamon and chocolate  together in the air gives me the strength to face an otherwise grey day.

I believe because doing so even for a small part of the year reminds me to spread kindness in a world that is very short of it.

I believe because a strong imagination has guided me though many a dark day and will do the same for my children.

I believe because there has to be something more.

I love Christmas and all of the joy and magic that it brings.  I love the entire season and do not feel the need to argue over who is most important during this fine season. I do not mind saying happy holidays to those who do not share my religious background and I often find myself humming the dreidel song at some point during the season.  Love, joy, family, sharing and reflection on the things most important is what it should be about.  For me, that means keeping Santa as part of the celebration as long as possible, I for one think we all could all use a little magic!

A simple question

It is once again October and the Pink is flying.  Breast cancer awareness visually pushed into the forefront for all.  Put aside the millions being made by the CEO’s running the charities or those behind the merchandising of all of the apparel and take it for what it should be, a moment to step back and recognize that awareness, testing and early detection really does save lives.  So instead of a long-winded post rehashing my own story or one looking at so many strong women who have fought or are currently fighting this awful disease, I ask a simple question, when is the last time you had your mammogram?

If you would like to buy a pretty pink sweatshirt, pen, baseball bat or energy drink with the special label go right ahead but I ask you to go one step further.  If you yourself are due to see your doctor and have your scans get off your butt and make the call and schedule your appointment.  Today and all month-long as you interact with those women closest to you, remind them to do the same.

CLICK HERE FOR A LINK TO THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR EARLY BREAST CANCER DETECTION

A mother’s crazy pride

It starts when they are born, how alert the baby in the first seconds of life or the belief that we saw them wave to us the first time you held them in your arms.  That crazy mother’s pride that you have just delivered to the world the next great thinker.  That crazy pride that at some point we all show. It of course is measured differently by all, to some every single thing you child does is amazing. Facebook posts are made hourly to announce each and every “new” moment.  To others, they are so guarded there is really nothing that will spark that crazy mommy thing. To the rest of us it is everything in between,

Both of my girls are playing travel soccer this year and my husband is one of the coaches on the little ones team. Last week was the official opening week. Of course both games were at the same time so we were separated. I believe it was the first game of Meg’s that Frank had ever missed, (and thankfully so). My daughter is the primary goalkeeper for her team, a team who saw three of its top offensive players pulled up to another team in the off-season. The game itself was, well it was a catastrophe, a pure annihilation. I could take this moment to tell you that it was over 90 degrees and,…but I could not tell you anything both teams did not have happening to them. Our girls had lost by the 10 minute mark of the first half. The entire team looked like they had never played the game before (although this is the 3rd year of travel soccer), and if I am being truly honest my daughter was plan awful. She was lazy and half-hearted and when pulled from the goal at the half I was thrilled. The game was painful to watch.

We have spent many an hour sitting at extra training sessions with Meg to help her be the best keeper she can be as well as a good chunk of money on those sessions as well as protective gloves, jerseys etc.  We of course understand that the ball has to get through the rest of the girls before it ever even reaches her position.  We also fully understand that she can not score from her end of the field so if the team does not even take a shot she can not control that.  What she can control is the effort she puts forth each and every time she takes the field, we expect that  she gives it her all.

These are some of the things we discussed all week-long heading into week two.  There was no yelling but the conversations were stern.  My expectations are high for my children and I do everything I possibly can to help them to rise to those expectations.  I believe that is a big part of what is wrong with the country right now, the lowering of expectations.  We stressed to Megan that no one expects anything from her except to come out each week and play hard.

The girls took to the field this week under cloudy skies and rain expected.  My girl was on!  She stopped one and then a second and with each her confidence came back.  The team fed off of her spark and even though the rains came and made the game a little messy the girls took away a well deserved 2-0 win.  Seeing my children believe in themselves, seeing them rise to the challenge, seeing them fight, that is where I derive my pride.  Megan was so happy.  She walked off the field with her head help high and a smile a big as could be.

They will always have ups and downs.  My job it to figure out how to help them reduce the distance between the two, to help them brush off and recover quickly from the lows and to always, always be strong enough to face the next challenge.  I love my job!

Put out your hand

I can not believe that school will be starting in 2 weeks.  It has been a very hectic summer for us and has seemed way too short!  Megan is heading into 5th grade and my little Madison will be in 2nd.  When did it happen?  When did my babies get so big?  It seems like just yesterday that I packed Meg up for her first day at Pre-K.  She was such a shy little thing that even though I was home, we sent her for a few hours a day just to be around other kids.  I remember the first day of Kindergarten and the first time I watched the bus drive away. I was so worried about her, would she adjust and fit in?  Of course she did just fine. Before each of these first days I sent her to school with a kiss in each hand. A little something to carry from me  just incase she needed them throughout the day.

Megan's first day of Kindergarten 2009

Megan’s first day of Kindergarten 2009

There is an adorable little book called O My Baby Little One that we have hadimages since Megan was a baby.  It is about a little bird who feels sad as he heads off to school.  His Mom is also sad and explains to him that the love they share will stay with them both everywhere they go even when apart.  I have read this the night before the first day of school since Megan’s first day at Pre-K.  With Megan turning 10 just the other day I was a little worried that just maybe my girls would not be as interested in our “ritual”. The other night we were gathering school supplies together and I asked if either of them had seen the book,  (fully knowing exactly where it was :-).  Before even allowing them to answer I asked if we would be reading it again this year.  The reaction made me so happy.  Both girls looked at me as if it was a crazy question and almost in unison answered “of course”.  It made me feel good, “our thing” is just as important to them as it is to me.

I realize that I am raising two girls who in no time at all will both be teenagers.  I know that there will come a time when everything that my husband and I do will be found to be the most embarrassing, annoying things in the world.  I understand and together we will all make it through but for now I will enjoy every moment I can get where they still allow me to snuggle up and just hold on to them.

So Megan and Madison, as the first day of school draws near, when I ask for your hands, do me a favor and just accept that I am so very proud of you both.  Accept that I love the strong and confident young ladies you are becoming.  Accept that in my heart you will always be my babies so put out your hands and please allow me to send a kiss in each and know that I will always be with you and that I love you both so very much!

My life, my heart, my family

My family,  they are my life, my heart and the most important thing in my world.  There are forces around me that do not understand that and the reason is simply that they have never taken a minute to get to know me.

Niagara Falls Canada Family vacation July

Niagara Falls Family vacation July

Everyone’s priorities are different and that is one of those wonderful things that makes the world go around.  I do not judge others, or at least I try my best not to.  One thing that will immediately spike my anger are those who seem to do just that to me.

How did I get here?

My world

My world

Maybe it was a father who left when I was a baby and never looked back.  Maybe it was the financial struggles that resulted from this, losing our house, never having my own new clothes or eating pancakes for dinner instead of meat.  Maybe going through 12 years of Catholic school being told I did not have a “real” family or seeing all of my friends living “normal” lives.  Maybe it was the death of my mother after a long battle with cancer.  She was a difficult woman but one I loved with all of my heart.  Maybe it was my own decision to proactively remove part of my body due to questionable biopsies, a surgery that was life changing.  Maybe it was the fact that the pathology from that surgery showed that cancer was most certainly in my future, a future that was changed due to my decision to have the prophylactic mastectomy with my families support.  A decision that certainly humbled me!

imagesI did not get married right out of college.   Frank and I were married several years before deciding to have children.  We did the career thing and made very nice money.  I was obsessed with the next promotion and the next raise and I did very well.  We lived a life for a while where we could do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted to do it.  I was 32 when Megan was born and ready for the next phase in my life.  Many around me then could not understand how I could walk away from a lucrative and successful career to become a stay at home mom.  To me that became the most important and fulfilling job I could ever have!  Years later to be faced with the realization that cancer could be such a real threat, it made me recognize how quickly life could change and how dear I held those close to me.

I now have an understanding that a “normal” family is any that is loving, caring and provides for the needs of those individuals with in it.  It is impossible to describe what that looks like since they are all so different.  I have also come to peace with the fact that many people do not understand us, to those folks I can only wish for them a moment to slow down and enjoy what they have.  What I do not give is an apology for knowing who I am and what is important to me.  I will never apologize for putting my family first.

wdw201411267073222_6967229184Over the next many weeks I am excited for the start of the soccer season.  For Madison, it is her first opportunity to play on a travel team and at a more competitive level.  Her team will take to the field Friday night for the first of a 3 game/ 3 day tournament.  Frank is an assistant coach on her team and both are excited to hit the field.   I love watching the girls play and have admittedly become a proud soccer mom.  I plan on seeing each and every game (fingers crossed for schedules that are accommodating :-) ). Megan will start the season the weekend after in a labor day tournament.

wdw201411267000039_6967229185As the summer comes to an end and we gear up to head back to school, the calendar is filling up and I realize, I would not have it any other way!  Sometimes it is good to step back and remember what is really important to you!

 

 

Two years later

Today is a Happy Anniversary for me, the 2 year mark since I underwent the bilateral prophylactic mastectomy, a life changing day for me. I thank god that I had the strength to make such a decision.  The year prior to the surgery was filled with doctors appointments, scans and blood work. The years prior to that were filled with biopsies and worry.  Since I also had the DIEP flap procedure done at the same time, my surgery took over 14 hours and  I spent 7 days in the hospital. The entire process took a total of three surgeries and several months to fully recover.  I would say that it took about a year before I felt normal.  I had numbness in my abdomen for a long time which was actually welcome after much pain.

I remember finally being released from the surgeons care many months after the BPM, walking to my car thinking both “wow” and “now what”?  Strange right?  Doctors became such a normal part of my life for so long that it was strange thinking about life after.  For so long my entire life was associated with my “procedure” it became part of my identity.

I can not believe it has been two years since the surgery.   I have not posted much over the last few months.  I started this blog as a way to help me keep my thoughts straight as I prepared for and recovered from major surgery.   As time has gone on I am not as sure as to what this will become.  I have recently entered a political race for our local town council.  I know that I do not want this sounding board to become anything political which is part of why I have stayed off of the pages. I also think there are already too many people posting about the day-to-day life of their children.  For the moment I will stay in the background posting from time to time.

Things that I learned through the process, never look back!  Make a decision and only look forward, trust in yourself that you made the right decision.   Especially with my pathology findings of lobular carcinoma in situ, had I waited another year or two….I can’t think about it and thankfully I did not!  Sadly, I also learned that many of the people who I loved and counted on were not there for me or my family when we needed them most.  A hurtful reality but one that we have accepted.  I no longer waste my time trying to keep our circle any larger than those who truly want to be a part of it.

I enjoy my family more than ever before. There are some who do not understand and to be honest I do not spend too much time explaining myself.  I hug my children tightly and kiss them everyday. I enjoy every minute I have with my family and I never pass up an opportunity to tell them how much I love them.  To all of the women out there, get you mammograms regularly, talk with your doctor and never be afraid to ask questions!

My beautiful family

My beautiful family

Hold on Mickey we are on our way! (again)

I used to laugh at those families that went to Disney World over and over.  Was there nothing else to spend their vacation money on?  That was until we took the girl for the first time in October 2011.  The joy in the faces of my girls the first time they walked down Main street, the wonder as the music for the parade started, “Celebrate a dream come true“, we all sang it for weeks after getting home.  I remember Megan being so excited when the parade started to go by I had to hold back a tear, a mothers dream is to see a child that excited.Mickey_Mouse_Clubhouse_-_Mickey_-_Playhouse_Disney_Canada

We returned in February 2013.  That time was a celebration after my bilateral prophylactic mastectomy and reconstruction.  After receiving the pathology report and realizing that it was not “if” I would have gotten breast cancer but instead “when” we knew we had to celebrate! We went all out staying at the Kidani villas overlooking the safari and enjoying 7 jam-packed days. Once again we had a fantastic time!  I really started to understand why people continue to come back, the fun had by the entire family was second to none!  We could not wait to plan the next trip, we had become one of those families.

This weekend we head back.  For the first time we will be driving and no villas. The kids are so excited because they will be sleeping in bunk beds.  I am not sure who is more excited, the girls or Frank and I.  My husband is just a big kid at heart and I have always had a loving fondness for all things Disney.  I also fill with joy watching the girls have such a great time.  The countdown has been going on for over a month with the excitement level increasing with each passing day…4 more days until Disney!

October 2011-Animal Kingdom

October 2011-Animal Kingdom

2013-Epcot

February 2013-Epcot














          I have not posted in a while for several reasons..I will get to those once we return from seeing the mouse.  Hold on Mickey, we will be there soon!