Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sun Smarts

Last week I had 3 biopsies done. I had never been to a dermatologist before but was slightly concerned about a few odd things (a regular colored bump on my forehead and 2 reddish marks-one on my clavicle and one on my shoulder).

I expected him to have a look and tell me to put some cream on them or something.

Instead he did 3 biopsies. Yikes, I thought to myself. He told me he though they were basal cell carcinoma. That's the big "C" word you don't want to hear.

Last Tuesday, a week after my visit with the skin doc, it was confirmed. My neck and my shoulder have basal cell carcinoma and I am going to have to have them surgically removed when I get home. I was reassured by the nurse on the phone that this is the "best" kind of skin cancer to get...if you're going to get it that is.

It is indeed very common and many Caucasians will have a run in with it during their life time...just not normally in their early 30s. I have been told I need to be extremely careful with the sun and need to go for regular appointments with a dermatologist. I have worn a hat in the sun for years and always wear a facial moisturizer with a built in sun screen. I have never been a sun worshipper and am not the kind of person who lies in the sun to relax. My situation is a result of a life time of sun exposure combined with very fair skin. Apparently we get approximately 80% of our sun exposure from age 0-18.

So, for all you Mamas who hang outside at the park and in the yard with your kids, put your hat on and slather on up with some strong sun screen. It is never too late to start protecting yourself. And even more important, slather up those kiddies as we Mamas are the ones responsible for their very fragile and very beautiful skin.

Potty Stories

I'll keep this one brief. Be warned that it's a little detailed if you're not interested in poop and pee pee.

While I was on my awesome one night get away with my sis and the little guy, my folks took a shot at potty training with the babe (it was my second night away from her ever!). It went well and they were thrilled. The use of gifts had indeed been a motivator. I was excited when I got back and hoped it would be different this time.

It wasn't.

Today, for the second time in my life, I cleaned poop out of my daughter's panties. But this time was a little more nasty. Once deposited in the grown up toilet, the poop managed to lodge itself and clog the whole thing. Right after having a go at plunging and attacking it with a metal coat hanger, I came out of the bathroom to find the babe standing in the living room peeing all over the floor. Nice.

So, we are obviously having some control issues here. She can do this whole thing when it suits her. She knows the deal. She can even recite the potty training books we have. But she just doesn't want to give in. The clock is ticking and September 2nd is around the corner.

Do schools send kids home if they aren't at the "80%" potty trained level they have requested? I guess I may be finding out.

The Fan

Family weddings used to involve some wine drinking, lots of catching up with people, and pulling out the moves on the dance floor. They now involve water drinking, brief moments of catching up with people while being repetitively interrupted by children, and dancing with toddlers (which is still pretty darn fun). Congratulations to my cousin and his beautiful bride. It was a lovely weekend which was well worth getting back to Canada for. We also managed to fit in a morning at a friend's lake side cottage which was a serious taste of the good life.

Since I've been home I have, however, been haunted by our burning fan. While at the cottage I was looking at pictures of our friend's new granddaughter. While gazing at the sweet little one, I recognized a white fan in the back of the photo and got a chill. It appeared to be the same version as ours, but the desk top variety. I warned our hosts and asked that they pass along the message to their son, the new Dad. While I was at it I also said they should tell him to install a smoke detector in the baby's room. I have started telling everyone I meet, especially those I am close to.

The second sighting was last night at my sister's place. She and I had just gotten back from an overnight trip with the little guy. I had decided to make a pit stop and feed my screaming son to make the rush hour trip back to my folks place a little more pleasant. I plunked down on her couch and looked next to me. It was a black oscillating fan, exactly the same as our white oscillating fan. Again, another big chill came over me. I let her know and asked her to be careful.

We have not been able to locate the company that sells this fan. It says "Super" on the front of it and I am sure it must be sold by a Canadian company (I have only seen them here). My mission while I am back is to track down the company so we can contact them to let them know about the fire and to share pictures of the melted fan with them. If anyone out there is familiar with the fan, feel free to share the info with me.

I am sure fans in general will continue to freak me out for years to come, but for now, if your fan says "Super" on the front, beware as it may not be so super.

Friday, July 24, 2009

We Made It

I managed to pack all our stuff in one suitcase for the 23 day trip to Canada. And I'm glad to say that the 3 of us made it here in one piece by 10:30 am. Not bad for international travel with 2 kids!

I'll be writing from Ottawa and Montreal for the next 3 weeks and am sure there will be some good stories.

Right now the little guy is on my lap whining so I won't give you the play by play of our travels. I'll just say that it kinda gets easier the more I do it, and that I'm relieved my husband will be joining us for the trip back in August.

Off to a family wedding in the morning. Road trip!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Steak and Fries

Today we did something crazy and new. On our way back from my husband's company summer party in Vienna, Virginia, we stopped in at an Outback Steakhouse and had dinner. That's right, the four of us actually went into a restaurant and had a meal together.

As you may know, we NEVER go out to eat as a family because of the babe's food allergies. We have always just thought it is easier to stay in. We like to feel in control.

But we threw caution to the wind and decided to pull in and give it a try. We explained the babe's food allergies to the waiter and asked for steak and fries from the children's menu. We managed to keep the little guy entertained with frequent feedings and lots of playing with the paper children's menu (which was more fun than any toys I had in my bag). The babe did some colouring and reading which helped pass the time. It also helped that we were surrounded by families with kids (it was just after 5:30 pm after all).

My husband and I were presented with our meals but the waiter explained that he had held back the babe's food when he found out the kitchen had put seasoning on her steak. A few minutes later, she was eating along with us. The manager came over to check in on everything as she had heard about the food allergies. We appreciated the concern and actually ended up having a good time (despite the fact we had the Epi pen ready and kept asking the babe to look at us and show us her mouth).

It was a big step forward for our little family, and I'm not saying it's going to become a regular thing, but it's nice to know we made it happen. Before the babe fell asleep tonight, she mumbled she wanted to go back to the restaurant again. After a life of never eating in restaurants, it was cool to see her chomping on down. Baby steps.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Getting it Back

It's been a while. First, thank you for all the messages, calls and emails. I have felt so loved.

Second, we're all OK. It was a tad crazy trying to get back to normal last week. My awesome Mother flew in on Monday morning and stayed with us until Thursday which allowed me to get work done. I was amazed at how our lives became so discombobulated by the fire. It seemed like everywhere I looked there was something to do. It was also tough to remain positive and focus on the fact that it all turned out OK.

We have sadly not returned to our sleeping routine which we had worked so hard to establish with the little guy. This has made life fuzzy for me. I am back to waking constantly and having to let him cry it out at times. I am not as tough as I was before and this has also made it difficult to get back on track. In addition, I am worried and find it difficult to keep my mind in check at night. We have now installed smoke detectors in each of the kids rooms as well as a fire extinguisher upstairs which has given me some comfort (I would encourage you to do the same if you have kids!).

Two days after the fire, the little guy had his 6 month check up with the pediatrician and came through with flying colours. He is 95th percentile in height which is pretty cool. The doc said she would have had no idea he had been involved in a fire a few days earlier if I had not told her. What a relief.

He also just survived a trip to the allergist yesterday. They did skin testing for the first time, and I am so darn happy to tell you that he came back negative on all 12 things they tested him for. I was so thrilled I almost started crying. I had been preparing myself for the worst and was already trying to accept that I would have 2 kids with food allergies. We're not in the clear yet, but this is a very good sign.

I had given him some peas last weekend and he had developed a rash about 4 hours later. I was convinced he was going to be an epi pen kid like his big sister. Yet they tested for peas and he came back negative which leads me to believe it could be a teething thing as he drools non stop. Anyway, relief doesn't begin to describe how I am feeling on the food allergy front!

Now back to the fire. The babe is talking about it every day. We are encouraging her to discuss it whenever she wants and she seems to be OK with it all. We have reassured her many times, and will continue to do so. Time will tell.

The little guy was definitely off his mark all last week. Between 4 immunization shots and the fire, he was not his usual pleasant self. I could tell he really just needed lots of love and comforting. He knew that some bad stuff had gone down...I have no doubt.

Anyway, as I said, we're all OK. We're working our way back to normal...although things are different now. We are seeing things in a changed way. I am trying to focus on the fact that I saved my son's life instead of on the fact that he was minutes away from the worst fate possible. I am trying to be strong, despite the exhaustion.

Thanks again for all the love and support. I am surrounded in person and spirit with amazing people (and angels, apparently).

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Unbelievable

Last night I came very close to losing what I hold most dear. Shortly after 11pm, I woke to the sound of a blipping baby monitor. The audio was not working so I checked the visual monitor (we have 2 set up). It said "No Signal." After flicking the buttons off and on a few times, I decided I should get up to check the monitors in the little guy's room so I could get back to sleep. I trudged across the hall and noticed the light on from under the little guy's door. Odd, I thought to myself. Was my husband in there with him?

I opened the door expecting to see the two of them, but instead saw the oscillating fan on fire, a room full of smoke, and my son, lit by the light from the fire, screaming in his crib. I screamed downstairs to my husband, grabbed my son, ran to my daughter's room and grabbed her and ran downstairs. I plunked my daughter outside the front door, ran to get the fire extinguisher in the kitchen and called 911. I stayed outside with the kids while my husband tried to contain the fire. The extinguisher did not work and neither did a pillow. He thankfully had the smarts to use our kids' water bath buckets to get the fire out. The fire men ran into our home with a hose right after the fire was put out.

It was a blur.

We had a few fire trucks and an ambulance here. The street was blocked off. My son was checked out in the back of the ambulance after being put on an oxygen mask. We had many neighbors standing with us in solidarity on the front lawn. My friends across the street took the babe to their place so she could rest on their couch in peace.

When everyone was gone, the kids and I read some books in the living room while my husband tried to clear things up enough for us to sleep (there were traces of soot all over the second floor, and the firemen -- bless them -- and their firehoses had tracked in mud). We all snuggled together in our room, with the babe between my husband and I and the little guy back in the co-sleeper which was pulled down from the attic.

Needless to say we did not get more than a few hours of sleep last night.

Today has been a battle to control my mind. We were minutes away from the worst fate I can imagine. I am struggling to keep a strong face for our two children (who are now, finally, fast asleep).

I will write more on this later, but for now I need to say this: if you do not have a fire extinguisher on each level of your home, go buy them. You should also consider having fire alarms in all your bedrooms. We have an alarm in the hall outside our bedrooms, but as the little guy's door was shut, the alarm did not go off because the smoke had not yet reached the hallway ceiling.

Never make assumptions about your safety. Bad things do happen to good people, and we all need to do what we can to minimize the risks in our lives, while also trying to stay sane.

We are all safe. And I am thanking the powers above. One minute can change your life.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Day 1

Today I had a first. I cleaned a very large poop out of my daughter's panties. Not diapers...panties, because today was Day 1 of "Project Panties."

The first half of the day was pretty miserable. We had three pee pee accidents and one poop accident by 11:30 am. That is a lot of accidents for half a day (especially as we were putting her on the potty every 30/45 minutes). The running dialogue in my head wasn't very positive and we were beginning to think we had rushed things.

After a long nap, the babe stepped it up. She woke with a dry diaper and didn't have any more accidents for the rest of the day. In fact, she let us know she had to pee during her shower and got plunked on the toilet naked and soaking wet. How awesome is that? The fact she told us she had to go is what is making me smile right now.

We'll see how things go tomorrow.

In other news, we had a lovely time at the Canadian Embassy for Canada Day on July 1st, and my husband and I celebrated 4 years of marriage on the 1st and 2nd (we had 2 separate ceremonies). We even ventured out to a local Japanese restaurant for some sushi (a friend from across the street baby sat for us). It's been an action packed week which has involved lots of potty talk and lots of celebrating our love talk. Right now, my night is about to involve some eating of the chocolate torte cake talk.