Cancer Sucks… Again.

24 Apr
RIP, Sweet Andreea.

     RIP, Sweet Andreea.

I’m not well travelled internationally, but I have been to a few places. One of those places was Romania. I was there working with orphans with my old church, and it was a transformative time in my life. It was a long, long time ago, but the connection I feel towards the country, it’s people, and my memories there, are deep.

Several years after that trip, I was working in Orange County and as my company started to experience some rough patches, I found myself working part time at a local restaurant/bar. It was there that I heard the accent that I loved so much, from behind the bar, and out of the mouth of one of the best people I met while working there. We worked the “slow shifts” together, typically Saturday lunch and a few lunch shifts during the week, but Saturdays were our days to be buddies, since it was so slow.

Andreea was a beautiful person, inside and out. Her laugh was contagious. She was an amazing person, always kind hearted and yet sarcastic and funny. We talked about everything from food, to her country, to religion, to fashion in Paris (which I knew nothing of at the time), to relationships, to so many other things, I can’t even remember. She was one of those people who liked to “get in there” and wanted to know more about how people think and what motivates them to be a better person. She was a “deep friend” not a surface level, “oh that’s cool” kind of friend. She was in my head every time I saw her and we got in trouble ALL THE TIME for hanging out more than doing side work. She was the only person I could say the few phrases I remembered in Romanian to, and she would sometimes just speak Romanian to me, mostly when she wanted to give me a hard time, was in a funky mood, or just wanted to see me confused. I loved her.

Like all friendships that happen in a specific location and have an attachment to a specific situation, when I moved away, we lost touch. I thought about her often, but didn’t do a good job at staying connected. I had moved across the country, gotten engaged, was planning a wedding and was just self-absorbed. I looked for her on FB, but didn’t find her. Then one day, a friend of ours (also from the restaurant) posted a picture of his shaved head… and hers.

Clearly, she had cancer.

I emailed him immediately. He reconnected me to her current contact information and I called her right away.

She and I reconnected. She was doing ok. She was on the up and up. Later, she was in remission. I was pregnant with my first child and though I wanted to go see her, I thought I would have time after the baby was born (as all new moms think) and I was proven wrong. New babies take everything out of you and when you have limited time before returning to work, you prioritize the immediate and literally leave everything else behind. I did that.

Little did I know that today, I would find out that my sweet girl passed away yesterday, losing the fight to the brutality that is breast cancer. Apparently, she was ok, or so everyone thought. Last week, she was hospitalized and yesterday passed. I’m not sure what happened, or why her kidneys/liver failed so suddenly, but she’s gone. Just like that.

I’m heart broken at the loss of her, but am angry with myself for not being a better friend. Last night, I realized that it was my fault for not staying connected to her. I’m the one who moved, who promised to visit, and while I wasn’t ill-willed at all, I was also a bad friend.

I guess this is all to say, that it’s an important lesson learned, though it’s also too late to fix.

Andreea, I love you. Always have, always will. I know you’re with your angels. Rest in sweet peace, my friend.

Te iubesc.

Monday Mom Confessions: The TV Edition

13 Apr

“It’s impossible to do everything right all the time.  Admitting that is freeing – and it’s also encouraging to other moms in the midst of intense seasons.”

~ Kristina Slaney; FamilyWorkLife.com

You’ve heard it a thousand times; “you’re a bad parent if your child watches TV before they’re 2 years old.”

I call bullshit.

If my son didn’t start watching TV before he was 2, I would still be un-showered, un-kept, and totally disheveled. Did I mention that I also have a full time job? I don’t think they would appreciate the “homeless” version of myself that I would have been, if I didn’t introduce the TV to my son at an earlier age.

Let me back up.

I started out completely against screens before 2. Then, my son recognized Elmo and I had no idea how. I had never shown him the crazy red muppet and somehow, Elmo was his buddy, his pal. My early talker (late walker), requested this “lovable monster” so many times a day… So I caved and turned on Sesame Street. He squealed with delight.

After a few minutes, I turned it off, because I felt the motion of the show was too fast for him still. He cried and cried. Sorry, buddy.

Showering pre-TV: 

Before the introduction of TV, my son sat in the bathroom with me every day while I showered. I would haul his high chair into the bathroom, load him up with books and a snack, get in the shower and leave the door open. I spent my showers freezing my butt off as the cold air hit my warming skin under the hot water. But, I did this every day from the time I went back to work, at 14 weeks post partum, until he was 15 months old, and learned to walk. No longer did he want to sit in his high chair and read books. My showers got shorter and colder and more stressful, resulting in days of “oops, I forgot to rinse the conditioner out!” and “I’ll never shave my legs again” and “did I actually use soap today?”  I would literally cram a shower into 1.5 minutes, trying to stop him from climbing out of his highchair the whole time.

I had to do something. I need about 10 minutes to shower in the morning. 20 if I want to get completely ready for the day (no more makeup or hair drying for me at this point). So, I introduced him to the TV and he loved it (duh).

We were very selective on the shows we let him watch and timed everything in a borderline obsessive manner.

We looked for “slow animation” shows that weren’t totally brain destroying and things that would occupy his senses without overly stimulating them.

Here’s our list of first shows:

  1. Turtle Tales: Sammy’s Adventures: This is a great movie about humans rotting the earth/water for sea animals, as told my an old man turtle (Sammy), as he relives his adventures with his best friend, Ray. The story is sweet, the music is good, but the animation is SLOW and mostly takes place under water, so it has that delayed movement feel to it. This is still a favorite movie for Remy, except now, he screams “SHARK!!!! SWIM AWAY SAMMY!!!!” as he watches it. This is available on Netflix or to download on iTunes, if you need it on an iPad for travel purposes.
  2. Jonathan Bird’s Blue World – Turtles: A common theme, Remy loves turtles. All of the Blue World TV shows are awesome, educational and beautifully shot. Remy calls Jonathan Bird, “Rocka Bird” and knows more about turtle life (including their mating and egg laying/hatching) than I knew at 37 when we first discovered the show. Another favorite episode is “Sully the Pilot Whale“. There are a ton of other videos here as well: Rocka Bird on the Youtubes. A nice thing about this, is that it’s YouTube based, so you can watch it on any device you own.
  3. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood : The Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood legacy continues with this cute little animated tiger, named Daniel. Every episode has a “lesson” and a cute little 1 line song to go along with it (songs like, “Keep trying, you’ll get be-et-ter!” will be used in our house for as long as it takes Remy to continue to try to do something himself, instead of always asking one of us to do it for him). Super slow animation and really sweet nostalgia as you hear the theme song, “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” play. Available on Netflix, PBS Kids App (if you don’t have it yet, you need it), and the PBS Kids channel on Roku/AppeTV.

So, there you have it.

Now, at slightly over 2, my son knows how to use a remote control, knows how to sit and watch a show and yes, my showers are longer and better, and I can actually “park him” when I need a break, or need to do the dishes without him wanting to be picked up or played with. He watches several other things now too, like Dora the Explorer and The Cat in the Hat, among others. Sometimes I even let him watch TV on an app on my phone, while we snuggle away the early morning hours, when my pregnant booty needs just a few more minutes of sleep!

Mama needs a break sometimes and this is our way of ensuring his safety, while making sure I can still function/don’t smell bad.

Monday Mom Confessions – The Dirty Truth

30 Mar

“It’s impossible to do everything right all the time.  Admitting that is freeing – and it’s also encouraging to other moms in the midst of intense seasons.”

~ Kristina Slaney

How many times have you heard the phrase “wash your hands” in your life?

Me too.

I wash my own hands all the time and almost every night after dinner, you know what I think?

“I didn’t wash my son’s hands before dinner!!”

Best part? He uses a fork when he wants to, but if he’s super hungry, he eats with his hands. Yes, the same hands the played on the floor, were at daycare all day, and the same hands that pet not one, but our two dogs… All those germs… Right into his mouth.

I’ve even splurged and purchased soap just for him (Kandoo’s foam soap) and I still forget sometimes!

To be fair to myself – and so you don’t call the cops on me – it’s not a nightly thing, just a few days a week. Cuz that makes it better right?

I am the worst mother of all time. 

DISCLAIMER: I started planning/writing this post a week ago and somehow, I’ve remembered to wash his hands every night before dinner since. #accountabilityworks 

What’s your mom confession? Post in the comments or link up from your blog! I’d love to share stories, cuz mama, the struggle is real.

Monday Mom Confessions

23 Mar

“It’s impossible to do everything right all the time.  Admitting that is freeing – and it’s also encouraging to other moms in the midst of intense seasons.”

~ Kristina Slaney

Every Monday, my friend Kristina posts her Monday Mom Confessions. I love reading her self-proclaimed confessions and have decided to link up with her and start posting them myself!

Since this is my first MMC, I’m starting light…

If you have a toddler, you’ve likely started waiting to stuff your face full of dessert until after bedtime, lest the smallest bite of something sugary keep your little monster up way past your “you time” at the end of the day. Missing my “me time” or “husband time” (on the few nights a week he’s home) makes me cranky, and with a budding baby in my belly, it’s more necessary that ever to get my perfect (and totally un-sleep trained) boy down for the night. Come on, I mean, it already takes a solid hour+ to get him to sleep, so whatever is left of the night is all mine (screw laundry). Sugar be damned.

Last night, we got some great news. Our home that we’ve been living in (renting) for several years was recently sold. Our new landlords bought the duplex under the agreement that they would be living in one of the two units… which are both currently occupied. We live in a beautiful, old building from the 1920’s that has two identical units. One of top of the other. We used to live upstairs, and now we live downstairs. Needless to say, we love our building, we love our neighborhood, we love our neighbors and we love living in the middle of the city, where everything we need is incredibly close by. People say LA has the worst traffic, but they just live in the wrong place. :) Anyway, for the last 2 months, we’ve been waiting for the new owners to let us know which one of the two units they planned on moving into. We knew that LA’s rent control laws protected us (we’ve lived there longer than our upstairs neighbors), but that doesn’t mean that the new owners would follow the rules. We were just nervous. The idea of being uprooted just a few months before the new baby comes, and in the middle of finals for my husband, was terrifying.

On to the good news – Sunday night, the new owners came over to “discuss their plans for the house” and the end result is that we get to stay!!!! 

How does this relate to my MMC??? Well, in of the excitement that the new owners brought with them, we needed cake. Thankfully, we live within walking distance to the BEST bakery in LA (in my opinion), Sweet Lady Jane. Onward ho! We marched ourselves straight to SLJ for some cake… and 7:00PM on a Sunday night. Shoot.

Remy can’t eat cake at 7:00PM or he will NEVER SLEEP AGAIN!!! Our evening of watching House of Cards will be damaged and a sour bedtime on a Sunday night, just leads to a rough(er) Monday morning. Waaaaaaaahhhh.

We walked back home with our cake in a togo box, and my excited little man cried when he only got ONE bite (mostly blueberry) of his triple berry shortcake, before bed.

But here’s the best thing – CAKE MAKES A GREAT BREAKFAST. Especially when it’s loaded with fruit (triple berry) and milk (lots and lots of whip cream frosting). Cake is a grain, right? We’re talking BALANCE.

Saving a piece for the little guy, while trying not to smear the goodness all over my face, took some serious self-control, but by some magical mystery, he was asleep by 8:30, woke up at 6:45 and didn’t get out of bed until 7:30 this morning. By 7:45, my little darling was hands deep in cake. For breakfast. He actually woke up saying “Memy’s cake! Memy’s cake time! Wake up! Cake time!”

Cake for Breakfast!

Cake for Breakfast!

The ultimate confession? He’s at daycare today. If he goes bonkers on a sugar high… He’s on someone else’s watch.

Lesson learned? Save dessert for breakfast. It won’t challenge bedtimes, and he’ll have plenty of time to burn off the sugar rush by nap time. :)

What Would You Do with $100?

13 Mar

Have you guys seen those awesome ads by Dollar Shave Club before?

I mean, if you’re like me, you go to Target for absolutely almost everything your home needs, and when your husband’s been a little too scratchy to kiss (you know what I’m talking about, don’t lie), you think of buying him a new razor as a hint gift.

Anyway, as I peruse the aisles, I am immediately overwhelmed by options. I know what razors he likes, but damn they’re expensive, so isn’t there another one that’s less expensive that he might like just as much? And then I think “I guess I’ll just have to sacrifice my face if I want to kiss my husband this week.” Because really, spending $24.0o on razors seems dumb and the cheap-o brands at normal stores are going to cut his precious face so, oh well. I just won’t kiss him for a few days, or substitute my normal skin exfoliant with kisses.

Then Dollar Shave Club sends you an email and says “did you know that you can save $100 a YEAR on razors that have the same integrity and quality as the ones at Target?” and you say “Whuuuuuuuhhhh???” (Plus, living in Los Angeles, that’s one less thing you need to spend $.10 on a bag to carry out to your car, when your arms are already loaded with laundry detergent, toilet paper, and a toddler, because Dollar Shave Club razors are delivered directly to your door once a month. And yes, in LA, we have to pay for every single bag that we use at a any kind of store, because you are expected to bring your own from home, and lets be honest, toddler = memory loss = I pay for bags WAY too often.)

Well, we signed up a while back and have been happily smooching since… unless he’s just too tired to shave, and then the face is sacrificed anyway. Oh well.

So then you think about it… WHAT WOULD I DO WITH $100 TO SPEND ON ME?!?

MY LIST OF THINGS TO BUY:

1. New size 8 toddler shoes for Remy.

2. Really good steaks for dinner and a nice bottle of wine for husband.

3. New hoodies for Remy (spring weather appropriate)

4. New rug for Remy’s room at Costco. You know, one he and the dogs haven’t peed on yet. 

5. New socks and underwear for husband.

6. New Storage buckets for the baby’s room.

7. New blender for smoothies.

WHHHHYYY???

As a mom, you know that the hardest person to spend money on is yourself. So, nothing on my list works, because none of those things are actually for me, they’re for my family, and of course I enjoy the things that help make their lived better or most organized, just as much as things for myself, but still… the question was “What would I do with $100 to spend on me?”

Here’s the impossible task, fellow mamas: Think of your own wants. (just for 5 minutes!)

I would:

1.Go to the Korean Spa for a full day of rest and body treatments leaving me feeling more like a piece of kobe beef, than a human (minus the whole being turned into a hamburger afterwards part)

2. Buy several new books (real books with covers and pages that aren’t on an iPad) that I’ll never have time to read, but will help me feel like maybe I will at some point (there are several books I FEEL like I’ve read already, because of how long they’ve been sitting around, but still.)

3. Buy a good, new, hypo allernegic, goose down pillow for myself. A really squishy, yet somehow totally supportive one.

4. Get a babysitter and go on a date with my handsome husband (to somewhere cheap, cuz babysitters are like, the highest paid people in LA kind of expensive).

So, thanks Dollar Shave Club, for inspiring me to think about myself for a moment, for saving my family $100 over the course of the next year… and for making my husband smoochable all year long.

Now, if only I could figure out how to have time for myself…

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