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Friends…

I am thinking of a friend today.  She is a wonderful friend, she is sweet and kind.  She is a mother of three beautiful children and a wife.  She is beautiful in every way and would do anything for anyone.  She loves deeply and hurts just as deeply when things go wrong.  And this friend and I have never met. 

I used to frequent a site on the internet called tracheostomy.com for obvious reasons.  I found solace there that I was not alone in the trach world.  I wanted…no….needed to find out that we were not the only ones.  Being a trach parent is sometimes a lonely place…friends you once thought you had seem to disappear overnight.  No one knows what to say or how to act so they just do nothing and fade into the background.   This website joined me up with other mothers and fathers that were facing the same everyday struggles and joys that we were facing.  It was here that I met Lisa.  She had given birth to twins and while the girl twin was doing great, her little boy struggled and eventually ended up with a trach.  She would frequent the site with questions or to celebrate a success and one day she mentioned the hospital they went to.  I messaged her right away and found that not only did we go to the same hospital, but we also had the exact same ENT doctor. 

And now…she is in the very same spot that we were in only 3 short years ago.  On April 6 they go for their “spring” bronch to find out if their little boy is ready for surgery to get his trach out.  I remember that exact day…sitting in the waiting room watching the second hands ticking on the clock.  Waiting for the doctor to come in and tell you one way or another if you were going to go another year with a trach.  I remember the anxiety, wanting this not just for yourself, but for your son, so that he could play in the sand and go swimming with his sisters!  How I would sit and daydream about what holidays would be like not having to have medical notes and oxygen tanks and scissors in case your son stopped breathing and you had to change the trach.  I pray for Lisa and her family that April 6 will be a day for celebration….they deserve it!  Please pray that by next summer Gage will be trach free and splashing in the family pool with his mother sitting on the deck drinking a martini…ok fine…a slush from 7-11!!

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Second Place

I remember when I was in elementary school.  Every year around my birthday my school would host a track and field day.  I was shorter…yes, shorter than I am now!  And any short people know that we also have extremely short legs.  Track and field day was not my friend.  But every year I would get up early, eat a good breakfast and wait patiently for the school bus.  I would climb on and pray the whole way there for just one first place ribbon…just one. 

I have decided that step-parenting is a lot like those days of track and field.  There is always a wish to be in first place.  To be the parent that is the first one the kids go to whenever there is a need for something.  Most mothers would read this and wonder what in the world I was talking about…for them, there is never a feeling of competition.  And I would think that every step-mother is sitting there shaking her head up and down knowing exactly what I am talking about. 

Let me tell you the difference between step-parenting and track and field.  During parenting when you come to a day when you realize that you just came in second, you find that your mom is not there to hug you and tell you she is proud of you.  You are the parent now and you realize that it still hurts to be in second place.

I’m trying!!

Ok, I normally am a positive person…ok…I normally try really hard to be a positive person.  I do however struggle with being positive as the long months of winter start to take their toll on me.  With 4 days to go until Spring is officially here, I would have hoped to not have to see this anymore….

I’m trying…I really am.  I have many things just crying out for warmer weather…..like this….

That’s right!!  It is March 16 and that is my Christmas tree sitting on my front step.   I’ve been waiting for Richard to throw it out…but he’ must be waiting for it to get warmer too!!

Teenagers…

My husband once put his butt through his parents basement wall.  It was innocent enough (he tells me) and him and a bunch of buddies got together when his parents were gone to Las Vegas (remember this later!)  They were goofing around and he managed to get himself tackled into the wall.  Now back in those days I find there was a lot more respect for the position of parent and for the parent’s things…such as the wall.  Well Richard being responsible rounded up a few of those friends the next day and actually tried to repair their mess.  He also called his parents to let them know right away what had happened…I commented that he was smart to give them time to cool off!

Now we fast forward some 24 years and his daughter, who is just like him, decided to have a small get together with her friends….while we were in Las Vegas.  See where I am going with this!!  Such similarities!  Now she didn’t call me, but she did make sure the house was clean when I got home.  And it would have been no big deal until I went to dust my brand new coffee table the other day.  When I called her up and quizzed her about it, she had no idea the carving was there and she was mad.  She told me today that she thought her friends had more respect than that…I said I wish they would have.  Because there on my new table is a carving…not an accidental dent…an actual carving….of a swastika.  Who does that????   I must say, I was a little irate as was Richard.  What kind of teenager goes to a friend’s house and does that?  Where has all the respect gone?

Continued on….again

Now came the hard part.  I had gone back to continue school but it was not where I really wanted to be.  I am sure that my parents were stressed out completely…their 19 year old daughter dating a man with two kids who was not divorced yet.  I sit here now with a daughter turning 18 in a month and wonder how I would feel in one year if she was doing the same thing.  Puts things into perspective a little bit!! 

By April of 96 I was done school and moved in with Richard and the girls.  We were confident in the fact that I wasn’t going anywhere and I had won over all of the affections of the girls.  Life was good.  I could be brutally honest. I could tell you all the times that I felt inferior to his ex-wife…all the times when I wondered why I jumped every time she called.  But the funny thing is that I look back now and realize how easy we had it.  She rarely came around at first which allowed me to bond with the girls and when she did come around it was only for an afternoon.  She never demanded holidays or weekends, I was the one that offered.  She never made me feel unwelcome, she has always known that she was the one that chose to leave.  As I look back, I realise that I feel sorry for her, sorry that she missed so  many wonderful things about the girls growing up.  She missed Daniele learning to talk, Taylor starting preschool.  She missed their first day of Kindergarten when I showed up to get them at the end of the day and they ran to me for a hug.  She missed it all.  Stuff like that, the stuff you can never get back. 

I will still remember the first day that Taylor called me Mom.  Daniele was so much younger and called me mom for a long time before Taylor ever did.  We lived in a very very small town at the time and there was a girl across the street that was Taylor’s age.  They were the best of friends and played almost every day.  Taylor was bugging me to go play one day so I told her that as soon as Daniele went down for her nap, she could go outside.  About two minutes later, her pudgy little cheeks peeked in the door and called me, “Mom, can I please go play with Tamara?”  She said it like she had called me that since birth.  I stopped for a second, registered what I had just heard and called back “Go ahead, stay in the yard please”.  That was it…and she never called me Tanya again.  Back then it seemed like it took forever, but really, we just let them decide when the right time was for them and that is it.  We always said we wouldn’t encourage or discourage it if they ever decided to call me “mom”…we wanted them to feel comfortable with whatever they chose to call me. 

Life was good.  No…life was great!!

Prayers…

Today I am giving my kids a few extra hugs and “I love you’s”.  One can’t help but be thankful they are here when you see such devastating footage as what we see on the news today about Japan.  We are sending out prayers and love across the world today.

Vegas Highlight Reel…

Check out the Loving Travel tab up top to see our daily hightlight reel of the good times we had in Las Vegas!!

Tomorrow…

I am going to get my hair cut tomorrow.  I have yet to decide what I am going to do with this hair.  I believe that I have tried every style and color that is possible…there was this one time I even tried green.  Of course it wasn’t on purpose but when a person is going to Las Vegas for the first time and constantly battles gray hair, it is a problem.  So off I went to the drug store to pick up a box color and thought a nice ash brown would suit me.  I lovingly convinced Richard that he was a chosen hairstylist and he managed to get the color on my hair.  And then the wait…10 minutes, 20 minutes….for stubborn gray….30 minutes.  I washed it, dried it, looked in the mirror and cried.  We were leaving for Vegas that night at 7 pm with a large group of friends and my hair….was green!  Very green!!  I booked an emergency appointment with a random hairdresser…I refused to go to Vegas with green hair.

When I got to the salon, she told me I had two choices.  Strip the color and re-color it, or hack it all off.  Really??  Well duh…strip it off.  But she says “it should only take about 5 hours….”  uh huh…we were leaving in 3.  It is a good thing that I have hair that grows fast and I really have no problem hacking it off because that is what we did!  I got to go to Vegas with a cute (ugh) little short cut!  Note to self : When leaving on holidays…color your hair at least a week in advance.

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I am going to do this…

Along with my other touristy Las Vegas things I plan to do…I will be going here

And…I will be eating this

Frozen Hot Chocolate!!  Yummy!!

All my time….

The last couple of days between parenting, housework and everything else, I have spent all my time researching what we should do in Vegas.  Besides our tour at Zappos, I want us to do something different that we normally wouldn’t do if the kids were with us.  I have discovered that there are endless amounts of things to do.  There is skydiving, ziplining, shows, comedy clubs, you name it…it is in Las Vegas. 

Right now there is this completely touristy thing…ziplining down Fremont Street.  If you want to zipline and not leave the city, this is the place.  You go down an 800 foot line right under the canopy of lights on Freemont Street.  The cost is very good too…$15 during the day and $20 at night.  Not bad for something different and entertaining!!   The website is www.fremontstreetflightline.com

We also want to go and see some shows.  We have been to Vegas at least 5 times and have only ever gone to one show.  I have heard all good things about every one of the Cirque Du Soleil shows especially “O”.  The only problem is that if you are trying to travel on a budget, shows can get very pricey!  For “O” adult tickets can run anywhere between $100 and $165 per person. 

Richard thought the Richard Petty Driving Experience looked pretty cool and when I looked at the reviews, everyone said that it was well worth the cost.  It can range anywhere from $99 (ride along for 3 laps) to $3500 ( 40 laps of intense driving).  If you are a true NASCAR lover, they say that this experience is well worth your time and money.

One thing that we have done that I would do again is the Bodies exhibit at the Luxor.  It costs $32 per adult, but well worth it if the human body fascinates you.  There are many full bodies and over 200 organ specimens that are meticulously preserved so that you can see what the inside of your body truly looks like.  It also showcases healthy lungs versus “smoking” lungs and other diseases and illnesses.  If you have a child who is at all looking into pursuing the medical field, this would be the perfect place to take them.  And since we are staying at the Luxor this trip, I may just check it out again!

And I think….just for fun….Richard and I will go to Minus5 for a drink.  It is a cool (very cool) bar that keeps its temperature at minus 5 degrees C.  Everything in the bar is made of ice…the bar, the chairs, the tables, even the glasses.  When you go in, you get a parka, boots and gloves and in you go for a special little cocktail!!  You know, it’s for us Canadians that are feeling homesick!!