Archive | April, 2015

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.

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