summer check in.


summer seems to be flying by!

the kids have enjoyed camps this week. bear was at the nature centre’s camp learning all about bugs and animals, while lion was at an arts camp experiencing the joys of drama, visual art and dance. both boys have been wiped out afterwards, which has been good. instead of fighting as much as usual, they have been looking for a bit more solitude at home colouring or reading after dinner. although, last night after dinner we got into some family soccer action which was a lot of fun!

today is friday and it has been raining ALL DAY! i wonder how the kids are doing at their camps. hopefully they still got outside for a bit!

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isn’t this picture gorgeous? i captured it on father’s day at the botanical gardens. just perfect. i have not done any editing to it!

this week i had my annual appointment in the big city regarding my pituitary gland and the removed tumour and hormones. truth be told, i’ve had a kind of a crummy year health wise. i have been experiencing all sorts of yucky things, which after a bunch online research has made me wonder if my hormones are out of whack! on wednesday i was told by my neurosurgeon that there was no signs of a new tumour growing, which is a huge relief! those tumours suck! big time! and, as i listed my symptoms that have arisen this year to my endocrinologist, she seemed to agree that more testing was needed.

i am at a point n my life where i just want to know what’s going on with my body. i AM NOT GOING CRAZY, something is not right, something is off kilter, something to too high or too low or too far to the right… or something. i’ve joined a bunch of groups on line to get more info about hormone deficiencies and pit tumours. it is amazing to me how so many people suffer and doctors just know or don’t care enough to explore more.

 

anyhow, the weekedn is soon upon us and i am looking forward to spending it with my family!

we have a new car to break in (yes, we FINALLY are getting rid of the rusty, crappy van), a new tent to practice setting up, a birthday party to attend and friends to visit with. 

xo, mama lola

lion dancing!

we have had a rough week of sickness, pain and late nights. bear developed a ear infection at the beginning of the week, which made his life miserable for a few days. his ear drum actually ruptured the night before our doctor’s appointment… poor lamb. he is now on antibiotics and finally back at school, bit those long days at home were awful for him. and for me. watching your child in pain is such a helpless, horrible feeling.

so, i decided to share some fun and cute pictures from lion’s dance class to end the week on a happier note. our lion started taking dance classes in the new year. he goes with a friend every saturday afternoon and works his body hard. he is always completely exhausted when he gets home! so great!

check-out these absolutely adorable photo’s of my guy dancing away!

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i just love that my boys will dance without any worries that it’s a girly thing to do. lion is so full of joy when at his class clearly enjoying moving his body in all sorts of different ways!

i of course looked like such a dork when watching; i had a goofy grin on my face as i tried to take photo’s while also enjoying the moment. i kept giggling and looking over at DH to see if he was taking in all of the cuteness like i was! and, no worries as he was!

i was the same when bear took dance classes a few years ago, you can see photos from back then HERE.

 

happy friday to you!

xo, mama lola

minimalism challenge, are you up for it?

the new year puts a lot of pressure on everyone. a new year, new chapter, clean slate so it’s time to get all those things on your to-do list done: lose weight, change eating habits, start hitting that hot yoga studio regularly, stop yelling at your kids, go to bed on time, stop drinking caffeine, stop eating sugar… blah, blah, blah! although, most of these goals are great, but when you start them all at once it is a bit overwhelming… right?

keep it simple, winter,

 

so one day as i was wasting time on pinterest, i saw this (see pink chart below).

a super easy, fun, DO-ABLE 30 day minimalism challenge from into mind!

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um, how much do you love the minimalism, the simplicity of this challenge?

anyone can do this. ANYONE.

are you in?

 

sometimes it’s the little things in life that bring about big change… right? i am starting this challenge tomorrow january 27th, 2015. i don’t want to wait for a new month so start when i am motivated NOW. i will of course share my successes and (epic) failures as i move through the days of this challenge.

let me know if you’re going to join me!

 

 

xo, mama lola

toronto day : MRI results!

a few weeks back i blogged about my sad MRI friday, the worry that i carry before getting my results and the general anxiety surrounding my previous tumour…  read more HERE. well, i got my result mid-july.

on july 16th i took the bus into the big city where i met my mum as soon as i got off the bus. we had some time spare before my big annual appointment at the hospital, so we decided to meander our way there. we strolled along dundas street, weaving through the crowds. on my mum’s suggestion we popped in a some of the small galleries across from the AGO. aaah, we saw some beautiful, breathtaking art. art that makes you stop and really look at the details and soak them in. my mum is an artist and listening to her analyse the art was awesome; her attention for detail, eye for colour and knowledge of art was super educational to me.

 

then we contunied walking along dundas street heading west, through china town and the construction there, up into kensington market. i took a picture of courage my love, a store i visited regularly as a youngster growing up in toronto. i used to head down there on the spadina bus!!! remember those ol’ things?! in kensington i strolled through memory lane floored that so many of the stores are still there from 20 years ago!!!

we stopped in a tiny cafe for a snack. i was a nervous wreck and couldn’t really eat.

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1:30pm was my appointment time. once a month the neurology department holds a pituitary clinic, so people with specifically pituitary issues comes for follow ups then. they also have an aneurysm clinic monthly. so n that clinic day  i looked around the waiting room and noticed that everyone is of a very specific generation, they all looked like baby-boomers. there was nobody else like me there.

at 2:30pm we were called in for my appointment. my poor mum came in with me, because i had asked he to, but i’m sure she was just as terrified as me!  we walked into a room with a large table with various people sitting around it,doctors and med students. first my endocrinologist (hormone doctor) said my blood work came in clear and normal, which was a HUGE relief. she asked a few questions about my weight and my periods, finishing that she had zero concerns! woohoo! then it was time for my neurologist to look at my MRI images which they display on a  huge screen for everyone to see. she said calmly that everything looked great, no sign of any re-growth or tumour. she asked about the kids and if i was going to have more kids. she finished the appoitnment by saying she though i looked wonderful! phew! as my mum and i walked out of the office, i threw my arm around her and did a small jig grinning hugely, with tears in my eyes, no tumour, i am healthy and good to go!

 

after that my mum and i both had more pep in our step as we headed north along bathurst to bloor street.  our shoulders had dropped and smiles were on our faces; the honest kind that come from your eyes and your heart,not just your mouth. finally at spadina and bloor we found a lovely crepe cafe with an authentic french atmosphere. we sipped real espresso and ate delicious savoury crepes.  just as we finished and were ready to head to the bata show musuem it started to pour! so we tucked under a tiny umbrella, walking arm-in-arm trying to avoid the huge growing puddles! at the museum there was an exhibit called “fashion victims” about the history of the dangers of textiles. it was a small exhibit, but wonderfully curated loaded with interesting information and detail.

 

because it was wednesday and i was in the mood to celebrate, we heded back down to dundas street via the U of T campus. the rain had stopped and the streets were packed with young people rushing around. the air was fresh. at the AGO wednesdays after 6pm are free admission, since it was only about 5pm we first had a celebratory glass of wine. the exhibit we were going to see was henry moore’s sculptures and francis bacon’s paintings. again, my mum’s knowledge of art cameflowing out as she told all about the artists and their art. the special exhibit turned out NOT to be free, but the rest of the gallery was.

 

my bus was leaving toronto at 8pm, so slowly we made our way in that direction. we had walked a wonderful loop inside the core of the city that was once my home. i felt energized after a day without the kids, relieved about my health and reconnected to my mum. as the bus rolled out of the city heading down to the highway, i felt very nostalgic; i have memories from so many intersections and corners of this city with all sorts of people.

 

but, i was ready to go.

to go home.

 

xo, mama lola

my emotional MRI and more.

 

on friday i had an MRI done. it’s an annual one that gets done to see whether or not the pituitary gland tumour that was removed almost four years ago has returned. pituitary gland tumours are typically cancer free, as was mine, and usually quite simple to remove. my situation had a catch though, as i was pregnant with lion when my tumour was diagnosed, so i was treated at a special hospital with fancy specialists and had a nightmare c-section. all because of this dang tumour.

in the brain tumour community cancer free tumours are not described as benign. all brain tumours reek havoc on the lives of people living with them and their families.

 

my annual check-ups for my tumour always fall right around lion’s birthday, which makes this time of year especially emotional for me. this year i was trying to push away all of the scary memories and focus on all of the good that we are surrounded with. but, then on friday as my MRI time got closer, my anxiety started to increase, my throat got tight, and i felt completely alone in my memories and fears.  DH hadn’t acknowledged anything before heading to work that morning, so 45 minutes prior to my appointment i texted him an angry message “today is not a normal day for me“. and, maybe he was taking cues from me to be chill about the day,but regardless, i was hurt.

 

so, i arrived at the hospital, nervous as heck only to see DH sitting there in the waiting room. he squeezed me tightly, kissed my forehead and whispered sweet words into my ear . he left the hospital once i was checked-in as the kids were with various friends, so someone had to be available as our phones didn’t work inside the hospital.

 

i sat in a horrible vinyl chair listening to a conversation between old  friends who had randomly crossed paths there at the MRI waiting room.  they shared stories of the heartbreaking medical ailments that had brought them there. as i sat there my throat was still tight and i was fiercely fighting back tears. i was remembering my family’s own heartbreak on lion’s birth day; a day when he entered this world in terrible stress to strangers taking him and whisking him away to the NICU. i was under a general anaesthetic for his birth, because there were concerns about my tumour literally exploding and killing me if i pushed him out during a vaginal birth, or if i had an epidural for a c-section like most women.  so i was out cold. because of this DH had to wait outside the operating room for the birth, so that meant our wee baby was born alone. lion had complications and was kept in the hospital for a week. all because of that dang tumour.

 

four years ago when we got home, i had a baby, toddler and a tumour to deal with. i have never wanted others to think i was looking for pity or attention; so instead of sharing my situation and asking for support i have been very internal about most of it. after my surgery in november 2010 to remove the tumour i was back home mothering within days without the necessary recovery times. i never asked anyone for help, because i didn’t want to be seen as weak.  i was so tired, in terrible pain and overwhelmed, but i tried my best to hide all of that and just kept on trucking. part of it was  i also felt like a fraud; like our experience with my tumour wasn’t bad enough to warrant attention or support.

 

so, back to friday when all of these memories brought with them deep waves of emotions that came rushing through me as they prepped me for the MRI. my IV was placed, painfully, my contrast liquid tubes set, the mask to trap my head during the MRI was locked into place and then with a push of a button they put me into this dark terrifying tube. if you’ve never had a MRI here’s a link to what it sounds like… CLICK HERE.  i don’t suggest listening to the whole thing, but i do recommend turning up your volume and jumping ahead every so often to see the range of horrible sounds and noises that machine makes! my MRI’s last about 30 minutes. during those long  minutes in the machine on friday i cried. tears were gently streaming into my ears. i thought of my lovely boy; he exudes love and shine. he giggles easily and cares deeply for others. i thought about him when he was first born, how fragile he looked all wrapped in tubes that were attached to various beeping machines. i also thought of my bear, who in those early days of lion’s life was shuffled around from one house to another, to the hospital all in a blur of confusion and fear. he was only two-and-a–half. and, i was also thinking of my sweet DH who in those months and days was trying so desperately to hold it all together. he never showed his fear to me, always trying to put on a brave face even if i did see right through it. he had been standing outside the room where his son almost died watching the red lights flash in the hallway, listening to the alarms and then seeing the staff intubate him and rush him away. how completely terrifying. luckily today lion is healthy,vivacious and read to roll!

 

after i was done on friday, i got changed and walked to my car. drove home and didn’t want to see anyone. i sat on my couch and cried. i sobbed. my body shook as huge tears rolled down my face. i had to let it all out before the kids came home with DH. when they walked in the door they held a beautiful bouquet of flowers for me.

 

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sharing my story here is a form of therapy for me. i think of my blog as a journal where i record our favourite recipes, craft projects, summer camping trips and also some of the not-so-fun or glamorous health experiences. i hope that talking openly about my dang tumour will open the doors for other’s to share their struggles, even if they are not medical.

 

fingers crossed for wednesday! that is when i head into the big city to see my neurologist and endocrinologist toreceive the results of this emotional MRI and blood work done a few weeks ago.

 

xo, mama lola

this moment.

 

 

(this week i am including two photo’s instead of one. just cuz!)

 

as inspired by souleMama; one photo from our week, no words, only an image to sum up our time as a family. one that captures a moment in time and is a visual reminder of where we were at this time in our lives.

 

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please feel free to leave a link to your this moment  from this past week in the comments.

xo, mama lola

the sickest of the sick.

 

my littlest lion has just had a terrible run of luck with his health these passed few months. first there was the never ending cold that included fever and one of those coughs that held on and on. then just as we thought everyone was healthy and ready to celebrate easter, my lion started to throw up, got another fever, and then his back exploded in a painful rash. oh, and let’s not forget about the ear ache…

so on the saturday following good friday we visited a doctor who after completing a swab test gave us the bad news, lion had strep. my poor little lamb was put on antibiotics, which kinda knocked him down a bit. being sick and trying to get healthy is a lot of work, especially for a little body like his. anyhow, the antibiotics worked their magic clearing up the strep, and on his last day on the meds he started to complain that it hurt to pee. well, this has happened before and with boy plumbing sometimes things get “stuck” in the pipes, so after a warm bath we were hoping that would be that. it was confusing, because when he wasn’t trying to pee, he was happy and his regular smiling self and didn’t complain about any kind of pain.

but alas, the pain seemed to increase, so i took him to our family doctor who after examining a urine sample determined my wee lion had an urinary tract infection (UTI). more antibiotics then… BAH! what? how could this be? how does this happen? only about 1-2% of boys even get UTI’s and i’ve never even had one.

it took us almost an entire day to get his prescription filled, because there is a manufacturers shortage on some liquid antibiotic… blah… blah… anyhow, long story short, after crying at the pharmacy and sobbing to the pharmacist, with two hungry little kids with me, a friend stepped in and found a pharmacy who could supply us with this antibiotic. more tears. hi and mine.

after a couple of days the pain didn’t seem to get better so i called our family doctor in tears. they told me to come back i. we discussed options and she suggested going to the ER, as there they could do tests quickly and get results quickly. so off we went. after a looooong wait, lots of discussions with the doctor and nurse practitioner, it sounds like maybe my lion never had a UTI, but another kind of infection in his penis, and so the hospital gave us a new prescription for another antibiotic. by now i was feeling quite pessimistic, tired and sad about the lack of options for my little guy in pain, but we had to give the meds a fair chance to work, so that’ what we have done. it is day 4 on the new meds and lion’s anxiety about using the toilet has decreased, although he still says it hurts to pee. he isn’t screaming or writhing in pain anymore, which  is a huge relief.

 

lion by the window

if you’ve ever had  a full blown UTI or other infection in your bits, you know the excruciating pain even one little drop of pee feels like when leaving the body. but, the pain i have felt these passed few days as a mama forcing my child to pee, because he needs to drink a lot to flush out his system, because the doctor needed a urine sample, because that’s how the body gets rid of waste. i have cried with my screaming child as he has sat on the toilet bravely peeing. my bear, lion’s older brother has tried to be encouraging saying beautiful, loving things to his little brother, but i know this week has been very stressful for him as well. watching and listening to other’s hurt is very upsetting, but for a six year old i think it’s even worse, because it is difficult for him to process or talk about what’s going on.

 

oh, my boys.

oh, what a week!

 

i am hoping for the sake of my family that this coming week is healthier, calmer and full of lots of laughter. we have had much support from friends, with yummy homemade dinners brought over, lots of kind, comforting words. it feels good to be part of a village!

MWAH!

xo, mama lola

where is spring: i am losing myself.

i know much of the talk recently for so many of us has been this epic, long winter. it has been cold and snowy, and when i say cold and snowy i don’t mean your typical winter freeze! i mean exceptionally cold temperatures that have dragged on for months, topped off with exceptionally high snow fall, which has led to a winter of great efforts! initially, we all loved the winter activities we were able to jump into so quickly but, now i think my mental health is on the edge. i am trying to hold on, but i feel myself slipping into a sadness, a lethargy and a feeling of total, blah.

 

my insomnia is back. last night i was up until 2am, thinking and thinking about all sorts of things. i tip-toed downstairs, found my computer, sat down to blog a little, then i checked-out pinterest and after an hour decided to go back to bed. recently, the pain in my neck that travels all the way down the right side of my body is back, as well. i had it last spring and it completely immobilized me for a few days. i am trying to keep my head up, but sometimes it feels as though i am fighting against my own body.

 

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the kids are exhausted by the weather as well. last year at this time, we had enjoyed many warm spring like days wearing only raincoats or sweaters, instead of still piling on our woolies, snow pants and parkas. they are completely disinterested in tobogganing or going on winter hikes or going ice skating; they want to run and play without the restrictions of snow. i get it, cuz SO DO I! on the weekend is was pretty cold on sunday, but dear hubby got the kids out to play after some serious convincing, and the guys had a great time! i think their mental health is affected by this long, never ending winter as well. they are eager to get back on their scooters and bikes, fly kites and make some awesome mud pies!

 

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check-out their amazing work in -10c conditions, where the snow is covered with ice making it hard, instead of compact and easy to build with. they really got serious about building their igloo; bear stayed inside organizing ice blocks that his little brother was delivering to him. the team work they demonstrated was quite touching.

 

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i am hoping to find some energy and motivation soon.

i want to play outside, get dirt under my fingernails and watch as the trees all come back to life. it is impossible to even think about gardening, as there are snow mountains 2-3 meters high in our front and back yards. it will take a long time for all of it to melt!

 

how are you coping with this winter?

what’s the weather like where you are?

 

happy tuesday to you!

xo, mama lola

a winter hike to kick off march break!

it’s march break here in canada! a week off from school, which actually makes my life a titch busier, but i am glad to have a break from the confines of school and the rigid structure it brings with it.

to really kick-off this break, the kids and i went for a hike in beautiful weather with friends. it was the most perfect day; the sun shone, the temperatures felt practically balmy and there was no wind. kinda perfect in every way!

we went to a local conservation area and explored this old mill. kids loved it. then we kept trekking along, enjoying the sights until we reached our destination…

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this awesome CAVE!

the kids all explored the various crevices, holes and rocks. every few seconds someone would exclaim “oh wow, look at this”! i just love to hear kids excited about things in nature and their environment. and, as the kids get older they really do know so much more about the world, than i give credit for.

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all explorers need to refuel after extensive research, so we had a cave picnic before heading home!

we nibbled on cheese n’ avocado wraps, apple slices, raisins, nuts, cheese and juice! yum! i find packing snacks is crucial to surviving any kind of outdoor experience with the kids. they’re blood sugar crashes so quickly!

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we were all exhausted after our exciting hike! but, it was that good kind of exhaustion, you know, when you feel inspired, energized and calm. this winter i have found my mental health teetering on the edge some days, but when i get outside and fill my lungs with fresh air, and especially get to soak up some priceless vitamin D from the glorious sun, it really helps soothe my mind.

what are you up to this march break?

xo, mama lola

sickness.

sickness has entered our home. it is stubborn, unrelenting and refusing to leave.

last monday night bear developed a fever. it kept creeping upwards, it hit +39.4c and plateaued. my 5yo was lethargic and listless,  without any other typical sick symptoms’ no runny nose, no belly ache, no cough, no nothing. just a fever. then finally the fever started to creep back down, and bear began eating more and playing again. he missed so much school last week. luckily he is only in SK so it’s not as though he will fall behind.

today to my dismay, a cough and drippy nose has bravely presented itself in bear’s head.  he is coughing chronically, consistently and it is driving us all bit mad.  his eyes look red from the tired that sickness brings. his behaviour is just plain obnoxious, as he is trying to keep up with the day playing and interacting with his family. all his body wants to do is rest.

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a morning bath, while his little brother was at preschool.

as his mama, it’s hard to find that balance with rest and play, especially because so much of last week was spent vegging, watching tv and sleeping. we had a busy weekend planned, but had to pull back and stay closer to home. i wanted bear as recharged for school, as possible. i did send him to school today, because he and i  need space. plus, i think he was healthy enough.

(knock on wood!)

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my lion has been stuck at home, by default. luckily, he has been happy to play and lounge in his pj’s!

the rest of us see fine and  not showing any signs of illness, but i’m not holding my breath. i am sure with time, we too will get knocked down. sickness will kick our butts sooner rather than later.

such is life.

xo, mama lola
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