Tag Archive | parenting

Today I’m over at Bonbon Break- in the bedroom

Well, I’m not actually over there sitting like a miniature person in the computer screen waving at you. That would be very Willy Wonka ish, wouldn’t it?

But click on over to their holiday issue and read about a coming of age story. Yes, Emma has reached a milestone about old St. Nick.

These are those parenting moments that keep you on your toes.

Enjoy the magic while it lasts. And by magic, I mean, the lying facade of trying to be a magical fat man who spies on sleeping children.

Read here- Bonbon Break

will-santa-return

Wife Confession: I enjoy the hubs away on business trips. Short ones, of course.

I think the further into marriage and kids you delve, the more you realize how much you like to be alone. Or is that just me?

I love my kids, I love my husband. Blah blah blah. You know this to be true. But come on. I love being alone. I’m the Greta Garbo of my peers. Leave me alone to bask in the glow of the reality TV show from my flat screen. Let me nap with the dog on the couch. Let me go poop by myself and change my maxi pad without interruption.

So when McSweetie had a business trip this week, I felt more sense of me time than just when he’s at work. Why? Maybe because after the kids go to bed, I rule the family room and the remote. Okay, I rule the remote most nights anyway. BUT. I got to sit around, pass gas, drink wine and watch all the Lifetime movies a girl could want. And they were holiday Lifetime movies. Even better.

So hubs comes home in the evening from the airport, kids are happy to see him, yada yada, and I’m moaning on the couch  before it’s time to tuck in the boy. I’ve heated up the hot pad twice and stuffed it in my pajama pants. This my friends, is a clear signal that Aunt Flo has come to town and she’s brought her suitcase. Did McSweetie notice this? Not so much. He asks what’s wrong. I mouth ‘cramps’ and give that all knowing look like, ‘poor me, I has armageddon uterus.’ What does he do? He gives me the exasperated look like, ‘didn’t you just have your period’, and says to me “that’s not what I was expecting.”

I stayed quiet, popped some Aleve and reheated my heat pad. I waited for him to fall asleep on the couch while I concocted this entire speech in my head.

Here goes:

“THAT’S NOT WHAT YOU WERE EXPECTING? REALLY? Yeah, well, newsflash bucko, it’s been 25 days since the last one. I’m sorry I wasn’t greeting you at the door wearing nothing but a trench coat and had the kiddos already tucked in bed sleeping soundly so we could have wild monkey sex on the dining room table. Which if you hadn’t noticed already was cleared off of its crap from the last several months.

Yeah, and another thing. You probably thought, ‘oh bummer, looks like the wifey isn’t up for some lovin’ tonight. Whoa is me, I won’t get some.’ But did you ever think- ‘Awww, poor thing. Look at her. She’s done all the chores and even scrubbed the base boards (I did actually, can you believe it?!) and she has an achy uterus and feels poorly.’

But did you think that? Hmm, did you?? NO. Of course you didn’t.

You don’t care that the pain I feel in my baby box slightly resembles that of the first few hours of labor. Where my endometrial lining is screaming at me and I have pain spasms all the way down my butt. Yeah. So there.

Don’t mind me. I just dropped off your dry cleaning, kept the children alive, washed the sheets, scrubbed the base boards (Did I mention I scrubbed the baseboards?) and cleaned up some crap from forever ago, and am sitting here being miserable in my female-ness that I have NO CONTROL over!

So yeah. Go fall asleep on the couch. No nookie for you.

Men.

Self love. Yes, THAT kind.

Please be advised this is no pervy, whack-off post. Any of you who found this by Google or other key words, just go elsewhere. This is about parenting. If you’re looking for anything otherwise, move along.

Masturbation.

Yep. That word. It’s a doozy. What comes to mind when I hear that? That character on Family Guy, was it Master Bates from the Morning Wood Academy?  Ha ha. Insert frat humor here.

Okay. Have you had THAT talk with your kids? I’ve had that talk with my kids. But I’m talking about this talk. The other talk. You know, where you tell them that if they touch themselves they will go blind. Or their hand will shrivel up and fall off. I’m kidding! I just said that small puppies will die. Okay, seriously.

I have NOT had this talk with my kids. We’ve talked about sex and how a baby is made. Emma is pretty clear on most things between a man and a woman. I mean, you know, the basics. She’s had family life in school, she knows about STDs and drugs and alcohol. She’s got it covered.

Okay, well maybe I did have THIS talk about Master Bates with Emma. But it was not on purpose.

My children have always been, uhm, you know, precocious. They are big farters and announcers about their farts. They talk about their privates. ALL. THE. TIME. We’re pretty comfortable talking about pretty much anything.

And then, the other day, Owen asks me if it’s true that when you rub your nuts your penis gets hard. Well, I said, I don’t have that equipment so I can’t say from experience. (Yeah, I know, easy way out.) But that if at any time you want to touch your privates, it’s totally fine to do as long as you are by yourself and privately at home. And then I asked him where he heard this bit of information. And he said a kid at school said that rubbing your junk makes it hard. Lovely.
AWKWARD. So I just casually said that if he had any questions he should probably ask his father. And that if he ever feels like touching himself, it’s totally not a big deal and again, reiterate that it is to be done in seclusion. And to please not talk about it with anyone outside our family, like at school or the playground.  It’s best to just come to me or dad with questions.

I think I handled that pretty well.

Moving on to a different day and Emma makes a joke about rubbing the cats balls while she was petting his belly. Technically he doesn’t have any balls, since he is neutered, which is also more fodder for discussion and jokes in this house. We like to talk in funny cat voices and talk about his missing balls. It’s a whole ‘nother story.  I said to please not molest the cat, it invades his privacy. One should only rub their own privates not anyone else’s or any animal’s for that matter. (Seriously, I need to have these conversations? WTF?) So she says, “Why on earth would anyone ever want to rub their privates?!”

Uhm. Well. Uhm. No reason.

Is what I should have said.

But instead, I start to pontificate on the benefits of self pleasure. Well, not exactly. But I said that masturbation is totally normal and nothing to be ashamed or afraid of. It is perfectly common for when you start to reach adulthood and sexual maturity to want to touch yourself only with the means of making it ‘feel good’.

Insert big shocked face from Emma here.

“Oh my gosh!! There is NO WAY that I’m just going to stick my hand down to my vagina because I WANT to! Do I just start flapping around my labias and clitoris for fun? NO!” (okay, this girl knows her parts and it kinda freaks me out every time she uses them in context!)

Me- “Well, your brother was discussing that boys at school talked about rubbing their privates and it felt good, so I was just making sure you were clear on the whole parameters on that kind of thing.”

Her- “DISGUSTING! So dad rubbed his junk when he was a teenager? Like I want to think about that!! EWWW!!! No thank you!”

Me- (Totally not trying to crack up and make her think I think this is a joke. She makes Taylor Lautner pectoral jokes all the time, now she goes all prude on me?) “Hey, that’s fine sweetie, whatever you are comfortable with. And if you have any questions, feel free to ask.” (please, please, please, don’t have any questions.)

Her- “Okay, well thank you for that mom. I’ll just go to bed now and try not to have nightmares about this sort of thing.”

Drama queen much?

So there you go. If you ever need any advice on how to talk to your kids about anything sexual, feel free to ask me. No, actually, I’m kidding. You’re on your own.

But I have said this- as much as we parents squirm and dance around this stuff- if your kids can come to YOU about it, Elle Woods finger snaps to you.

Because parenting is about being there. And then blogging about it after they walk away.

RTLF #22 – my kids

Way back when, before there was Owen, we considered Emma might be an only child. My pregnancy was tough with her. My post partum was no picnic either. Unless it’s a picnic where fire ants crawl in your pants, sting your crotch and wild honey badgers shred your nipples. Not pretty.

James probably had a coronary five times over stressing about the health of his wife and unborn child in a time span of 3 months. He figured we were done in the baby gestating department.

But once the baby-nesia set in, and I was ready for another, I convinced James that Emma needed a sibling. That she wasn’t going to be the token child of some sweet, middle class couple who doted on her and was totally whipped because she was the center of our universe. It was important for her to have a sibling, a counterpart in the family. And if we could grow that little cabbage patch kid ourselves, let’s give it a go.

After Emma’s second birthday, the idea of being pregnant again didn’t seem like a horrible  idea anymore. So sure enough, I got knocked up, and that baby turned out to be Owen. She had just turned 3 when he was born.

Despite the early years of whining, bickering, throttling, and basic sibling rivalry between them, we’ve turned a corner.

Every now and then the uterus spawn will do something to shock and awe you into thinking that maybe they won’t kill and hate each other forever.

This week, Emma wrote an essay on how her favorite thing to do is spend time with her brother. I think the earth stopped spinning for just a milisecond there out of shear WTFness.

The following is her words, and yes, I melted reading this.

“I have had many memories, but my favorite ones are with my brother. My most cherished moment in my life happened when I was three years old. My Oma and Opa woke me up early in the morning with smiles on their faces to tell me my brother was born.  We drove to the hospital to see the new addition to my family.  When we arrived to our destination I remember being filled with glee.  With my baby doll in my arms that I named Owen to prepare for holding the real Owen, I sat down in the big hospital chair and my father placed my brother in my arms. With the amount of tears and cameras out I knew that it was an important moment. Today, there are small moments that I cling to such as beating my brother at Mario Kart, him saying I look pretty, or even when he laughs at my joke.

Another reason why spending time with my brother is important is he has always been there for me. Two years ago I had a back injury that had me in bed for a week. During the bed rest period I was helpless and scared because I didn’t know what was wrong with me and I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom by myself.  One of the hard days I was really emotional and I needed cheering up. My brother, being the cute little boy he is, came up to me and handed me one of his stuffed animals. It was a giant, blue cookie monster from Sesame Street. He told me to get better soon and he loved me. His words of encouragement were just what I needed. The days of hurt went by faster and I was soon fully recovered. That was one of the many examples of Owen being by my side and helping me get through something. I loved every second of my brother’s words of wisdom.

In conclusion, spending time with my brother, Owen is my favorite thing to do because of amazing memories we have had, him always having my back and life lessons we have had together.”

 
Emma is turning this essay in today and I needed a copy of it to prove to her she did once write this. My work here is done people.

Mom on Strike

Dear Family,

This is not the NFL. No replacement refs here. No SCABS.

When you wake up in the morning, get your own damn waffle. You can reach the toaster.

Pack your lunch.

When you can’t find your socks, look in the drawer. Or the dryer, or the hamper. Have you ran the washing machine? It’s not magic, it doesn’t run on its own. Oh and don’t just load the blasted thing, put that shit in the dryer, then FOLD. IT. Yep. Guess what? Folding and putting the laundry away is THE BORING part. Uh huh. You may think ‘you’re all that’, putting them dirty clothes in the machine. But that don’t make you a hero.
The battle is in the taking those socks, making them into sock balls. Taking t-shirts that are inside out and putting them right side in.  Or out. Whatever. Oh dear GOD how does every motha fuckin’ shirt get inside out in the wash??? I don’t take off my shirts and put them over my head like that. Is that necessary?

Okay, moving on.

Garbage on the floor. Throw away your own furkin’ wrappers, kleenexes, band-aids, used ones especially, popsicle sticks, gogurt tubes…. oh my gads, is this a frat house??? Throw away all toe nail clippings. I shouldn’t have to ask you twice.

After dinner, if I’m at a PTA meeting, you know one of the many things I do for free, don’t just pile up the dishes on the counter over the dishwasher. Put them IN it. Put the pans in the sink. Put away any leftover food in the refrigerator. Oh, and this is big, WIPE. OFF. THE. COUNTERS. I know it’s hard. It can be yucky. What, all those crumbs and spills. Yeah, disgusting.

If I make the danged dinner, least you can do is clean up after it.

All your clothes and random belongings need to go up to your room. That means all of you. I’m tired of looking at your thermals, hoodies and soccer shoes. Why are there always socks in the family room? Hair accessories are the same. Do they multiply like bunnies? Why are there always bobby pins and hair elastics in every room of the house?

If you have a dish in a room of the house, other than the kitchen, put it away. I don’t want to find your milk glass in your bedroom two weeks later.

Toilet paper needs to be replaced on the roll. How many times do I have to say this? If you are using the last roll, go get several more from the bathroom cupboard.

If you use the last milk, go into the garage fridge, and get the next carton.

All tools need to be returned to their proper place. That means a roll of tape goes back in the office. A hammer goes back in the garage.

Please don’t leave Nerf weapons randomly on the stairs. Someone will trip over them. Okay, I will trip over them.

Now that we have that established, I think I’ll go to the spa, and then eat bonbons watching an entire season of Boardwalk Empire on DVD from the library.

Someone call for pizza.

My attempt at household inspiration

I see all kinds of sweet plaques of inspiration, quotes, and passages for people’s homes that folks post on Facebook or Pinterest.

Gone are the needlepoint cross stitched framed hangings of “Home Sweet Home.” Not that people don’t have those, it’s just different now.

So I thought I would hop on the band wagon and get something endearing for our home.

Here’s the plaque:

So nice, right?

I showed it to Emma.

This is what she told me when she looked at it:

Douchey kids and parents without a sense of humor.

I am pretty nice. I am. Ask folks. But I do bottle up my frustrations. So I’m smiling on the outside, and inside, I’m shaking my head going , ‘what the fuck?’  WHAT in THEEE FUCK are you thinking people?

Okay, here goes. Deep breath.

Do you lie to your kids? YES! We all do people. Our mom shaming craze is taking over Facebook. Woo hoo. I love a funny joke. I am the queen of self deprecation. I will dance around in a leotard wearing a turban if it makes you laugh.

But if you don’t think when I confess things I do behind my children’s backs isn’t funny- that’s okay. I guess. But I guess we won’t be friends. And that’s okay too. I mean, how do you NOT laugh at such honesty from moms?

Poor Somewhat Sane Mom got in some trouble from some ass-holey trolls who said she was a mean mom, a liar, a bitch, she needed to go grocery shopping, they felt sorry for her kids. Whatever.

Wow. All over a granola bar. A fucking granola bar. You say there are no more in the box. Eat one behind their back. No biggy. A unicorn isn’t going to drop dead somewhere people. Tinkerbell isn’t going to die because you told a fib to your kids.

Here’s a fib I tell my kids. Put your tooth under your pillow so the Tooth Fairy can come and bring you a dollar.

Yeah. That is called a LIE folks. Do you tell your kids- “put your tooth under your pillow so I can trip over random objects in the dark while you sleep and try to shove a dollar under your sleeping little melon without waking you up.” Huh, do you?

Lighten up people.

When you see a splayed out opossum on the road with it’s entrails on the concrete out like sausage and meatballs, do you say, “Wow, sucks to be that fella. Must have hurt real bad when the front end of a large moving vehicle crushed his insides and caused massive injuries and bleeding.” Huh, do you?  Or do you say, “that little opossum is sleeping with someone’s ground hamburger next to them.”

Do you see my point here?

Okay, I would also like to address the assholey little crotch fruit of other people that like to go around kicking, smacking or just spewing their little demon antics on every one.

When your kid hauls off and hits another kid, do you stay standing 10 feet away and say, “hey, let’s not hit, okay?” Or do you run on over to your uterus spawn and take his arm and say, “knock it off! Apologize or we are leaving!” Huh, do  you?

Just asking. Because I see a lot of just parenting from the sidelines. When my kids would do shitty behavior, especially around the age of when shitty behavior is rampant- translation- preschool years through elementary on through middle school…. (ha ha, I’m kidding)… I would get up in their grill and make sure they knew that I was on to them.

Are parents afraid of hurting their kid’s feelings? Are they afraid that if they blow it off in front of other parents those parents will somehow not notice the douchey behavior of the other kid?

Don’t raise a Nellie.

I don’t know.

So there you have it people. My rant on people who parent without a sense of humor and assholey uterus spawn whose parents enable their assholey-ness.

I can only save the world so many folks at a time. If you need a funny intervention or a wake-up call regarding your kid, just message me and I’ll slap some sense into you.

RTLF #16- Ashley’s story

I am doing a series of stories for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I’m reading Mary Tyler Mom’s account of her baby daughter Donna and their journey through her cancer. She chronicles Donna’s cancer in a series for Huffington Post for this month of September. You should follow it too if you aren’t yet. And share it. Please, please share it.

Last week was Siona’s story. A heart-rending tale from Siona’s mom of love and loss. Today’s is about Ashley- a survivor. But it’s not always rosy and easy. This is for sure.

“I want to be unaware of childhood cancer.”

This is what my friend Christin said when I asked her to help out with my blog series this month. I don’t blame her. She’s pretty blunt and to the point.  Her 7 year old daughter Ashley is a cancer survivor. Wouldn’t you want to hide under a rock and pretend there is no such thing as childhood cancer? Especially since for 2 1/2 years, they lived the days of treatments, fevers, surgeries, infections, hospital stays… more acutely aware than most of us.

I’ve known Christin and family for 6 years. Ashley was an infant when I met Christin. Tons of fun and a huge personality is how I describe my friend. She never minced her words on how hard it was raising a 1 1/2 year old boy with an infant daughter. Oops, Christin got knocked up when Dean was only 3 months old. She cried when she learned she was pregnant. I would too. But that doesn’t make her any less grateful of a mother to two healthy children.

Ashley, age 1. Uhm, yeah, that is cuteness alright!

If you met Christin you would notice her huge smile, her charisma and her wit. She’s as sharp as a tack and cracks me up all the time.  She’s a stay at home mom to two kids, a first grader and a third grader. She has a husband who runs a company called Baconsalt. She’s never idle or bored. She is always on the move. Now that her kids are in school, she has some ‘normal’ mom time. No more trips to the hospital and days for chemo. But is she doing cartwheels? Hmm, not quite.

I asked her if she thinks about Ashley’s leukemia every day, or has life started to distract her from all that. Yes, there are days she is able to be carefree, but once a month Ashley goes in for blood work, so there is that reminder.

When Ashley had her last chemo back in December 2011, well wishes and congratulations were abound for the family. Every one was celebrating. Christin had a quiet reserve. You wouldn’t know it, but on the inside, Christin was terrified. The safety of treatment, scrutiny, observation and specialists was not going to be routine anymore. What paralyzed her most- the thought of leukemia returning.

You don’t get a Cancer Free card when you are a kid with leukemia, unless you’ve been 5 years in remission. Ashley is coming up on her 3 year mark. The biggest chance of relapse is in that first year. Statistics and numbers occupy your thoughts.

Let me take you to the beginning:

Ashley was diagnosed with ALL acute lymphoblastic leukemia in September 2009. This is called the ‘good kind’. I know, stupid, but bear with me. She had the  Type B cell kind, again, the ‘better’ one. (Type B is  for better) (Type T is for terrible). There’s little alliteration  tricks to help parents remember. Although if you have a kid with the Type T, I’m doubting they use the same one.

Ashley had been a tippy-toe walker since around the age of 2. They were trying physical therapy and treatments to help her walk flat footed. The tippy-toe walking had been severe enough to cause Ashley not to be able to run, jump and land on her feet. So when a 4 year old Ashley went to her pediatrician wearing a diaper, Christin explained that Ashley said she couldn’t feel when she had to go poop. So to avoid accidents, she was wearing a diaper. Even though she is potty trained, Ashely knew, 4 year olds don’t wear diapers! So their doctor ordered an MRI to check for any nerve damage from the tippy-toe walking. The MRI showed spots on Ashley’s spine. The radiologist happened to glance up on the scan and catch them. Attention was focused on Ashley’s pelvis area, not her spine, so for the radiologist to look up and notice- was what changed the course of their lives completely. Hindsight also says, it’s what saved Ashley’s life.

After the MRI came blood work to check those spots. It came back clean. Then a CT scan was ordered. Came back clean. Thanks to the perseverance of their pediatrician, she wouldn’t stop until she knew what those spots meant. A spinal tap was ordered. The bone marrow aspiration tested showed leukemia. That day was when the bottom of the world dropped out beneath Christin and her husband Dave.

Immediately, surgery for the port access was done, chemo started and the dizzying, numbing existence of living at Children’s Hospital in Seattle began. Because the leukemia was caught at 33 %,  eight days after diagnoses and chemo in her system, the doctors announced the leukemia was essentially gone.

Ashley during treatment. I can hear that laugh!

Ashley is a stubborn, head strong, iron willed girl. I’m thinking she told cancer to Fuck off and it did.

That damned port was the bane to Ashley’s existence. For 2 1/2 years she hated that thing. It bothered her terribly. Access times were agony. Yes, it was part of what was saving her life. But tell that to a 4 year old!

Last December when chemo ended, it wasn’t until that port was removed a week later did Ashley feel liberated.

I asked Christin how wonderful that Christmas must have been for them. Ashley being chemo free, no more port, no more frequent visits to Children’s. She said it was awful. Christin was terrified.

What if the leukemia came back? This thought permeated Christin’s existence. The safety net of treatment was gone. Without it in her system is the leukemia going to rear its ugly head again?

This year, she says, her breaths are a little deeper than last year. As they approach the 5 year mark, there’s a release of tension uncoiling, slowly, ever so slowly.

After the new year, then blood work will be every three months. Which sends her thoughts into wondering if she is further from being checked frequently and what danger this poses. You can’t blame her for the paranoia. You can tell a parent that statistics of their children being hurt in a car accident, or riding their bike, are more than their risk of getting cancer.

But a cancer parent veteran is always that. A cancer parent. We haven’t even begun to discuss the guilt you can feel as well when you’re the parent whose kid lived. And you know parents that wish they could worry over blood work.

It’s a constant cluster fuck. Excuse me, but it is.

What we can focus on is Ashley at this day and time is a beautiful, thriving 1st grader. She had her tippy-toe surgery to correct her feet. Now with that behind her, the world is her oyster. She is still as stubborn as ever. But a sassy Ashley, is a healthy Ashley. And when you’ve seen your kid limp and exhausted from chemo and steroids on the couch laying with a blanket and stuffies, you take those parenting moments that make you want to pull out your hair. Because it’s life.

Ashley today. Her hair is long and wavy and beautiful. But her best accessory, that big smile.

Please spread the word of Childhood Cancer Awareness. Spread Ashley’s story, Siona’s story, Donna’s story.

Thank you.

RTLF #15- Siona’s Story

I had mentioned last week that I will do a series of stories for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I’m reading Mary Tyler Mom’s account of her daughter Donna and their journey through her cancer. She chronicles Donna’s cancer in a series for Huffington Post for this month of September. You should follow it too if you aren’t yet. And share it. Please, please share it.

My friends, the Shahs, found out in 2008, their daughter Siona, had Leukemia. She was only 4 years old. Not that any age is okay to get cancer. Isn’t it funny when we say that? She was only 2 years old, or 10 years old?  How  about 90? Would that be okay?  I don’t know.

I asked Siona’s mom to write her own words for their story. She does a beautiful job. Please read and share to spread Siona’s words of strength. I’m amazed at the Mary Tyler Moms and the Reshmas that I know.

And pay attention to the end. Siona’s older brother Sohil included a list of Siona’s lessons. We forget sometimes how siblings are affected. How one day, you become an only child. What burden does that carry? Sohil is a clever, smart and easy going young man. I admire him too for his strength and wisdom. Everyone can learn from Siona’s story-

This is Siona. Smiling like always.

Written by Siona’s mom- Reshma~

When your children are born, as parents you have this feeling that everything is well with the world.  You actually wonder what you ever did prior to having them and couldn’t imagine your world without them in it.
As they grow, every now then, they get ill and for a moment you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach.   The wave of relief when the doctor tells you it’s nothing serious, puts you back in that ‘all is well with the world’ place.
On a hot summer day in 2008, I took the kids to their first swim lesson together.  My son did well, but Siona, my daughter, cried through the whole lesson.  It was very unusual for her to be clingy and cry so much.   I made a note to ask the doctor about it later that day.  I was taking Siona in for a checkup because she had been sleeping a lot and she had a low grade fever.
The doctor took a look and ordered blood work and said it was probably mono, but blood tests should confirm it.  I went about my business thinking it would all be fine…the doctor said so.
The next morning, my husband woke me up early to say the doctor had called (at 5:30 a.m.) to say that we had to get Siona into Children’s ER in Seattle.  No explanation.  They couldn’t discuss it over the phone.
From that day onward life was never the same and would never be ever again.  Siona was diagnosed with High Risk T-Cell Leukemia on June 26th 2008.  We didn’t go home that day.  Siona was admitted to an overflowing cancer ward.  I will always remember that first night…listening to the other children in the room crying in pain and being sick.  The thought of Siona going through what those children were going through was unbearable.
Siona showed spunk from the very beginning.  When the tech came in to draw blood for the tenth time that first day she had no more fingers left to poke, except one.  She was mad, it was late and the tech couldn’t get blood.  I screamed at him to leave and Siona calmly gave him her only unbandaged finger – the middle one.   Appropriately, it symbolized my feelings to a tee. ‘Take that cancer!’
Life puts many obstacles in our way and how we choose to deal with them makes us who we are.  Children don’t even see these obstacles.  They are usually experiencing everything for the first time, so to them, if it is new it must be normal…right?  To Siona, every kid was doing the things she was.
Siona never cried about what was happening to her.  She cried when she was in pain when it was at its worst.  She took the daily needles in the chest, feeding tubes shoved down her throat and the constant prodding and poking in stride.  The long hospital days and long stays were accepted without question.  She would look around in the waiting room and comment on another girl’s cute shoes or notice a child crying and say, ‘He/she is not happy today.’  I could tell it would affect her.  She was always smiling and wanted that for the other kids too.  Her goal was to get out of the hospital as fast as she could, so she would opt out of the ‘let’s count to 10 before we rip this tape off your chest’.  Honestly, there is no gentle way to take a needle out of your chest!  She would say, ‘Just do it!  I want to go home and ride my scooter!’
The first year was the hardest.  The chemo made Siona very sick and also shut down her adrenal system.  She was on a feeding tube most of the first year.  She was a sight!  She would be running, riding her bike, and playing without a care – all with the tubes hanging out of her.  Cancer wasn’t going to slow her down.    As she grew older, Siona started to notice that she wasn’t getting to do the normal things other kids her age were doing.  The first day of kindergarten and getting on the school bus she had always wanted to get on weren’t going to happen for her.  We would keep the windows shut so that she couldn’t hear the kids outside.  Once, and only once, did she say to me, ‘Mama, I wish I was normal.’
Children with Leukemia go through a longer course of therapy.  Girls go a total of 2 years, boys 3.  After the first intense year, Siona went on maintenance therapy for the next year.  She was doing well until March 26th of 2010 (ahhh the 26th again!).  After a routine blood test the results showed some abnormalities.  Siona had relapsed.  It was like re-living the first time we found out, but worse.
With cancer you are bombarded with statistics.  Your child’s chances of survival are based on percentages.  It’s terrifying.  Siona’s chances weren’t great this time around.  The first time she had had an 85 % chance of surviving.  Now?  5% if she was lucky.   Siona needed a bone marrow transplant and donors for children of Asian descent are hard to match.  Her brother, who had decided he was going to save her, wasn’t a match for her.  We found two blood cords that may have worked, but first we needed to get Siona into remission.
We went to St. Jude’s in Memphis where they are 10 years ahead of all institutions in the search for a cure for childhood cancer.  We found out that Siona actually had a rare subset of Leukemia called ETP Leukemia.  It was newly discovered by doctors at St. Judes.  We were thrown back to the beginning…again.  A whole new diagnosis for which chemo is useless.  Siona should have had a transplant while she was in remission.  We were devastated.
We brought Siona home because that is where she wanted to be.  St Jude’s had new treatments, but they were all experimental.  No guarantees.  Siona was all about ‘Home’.  She just wanted to be home with her brother and family.
Through Siona’s illness she remained positive and would tell US everything was going to be okay.  We would call her the ‘wise one’ because she would say things that a 4 or 5 year old would never say.  She observed people closely and if she heard or saw that someone was hurt or down, she would try to cheer them up.
She once said to her brother who was sad to see grandparents go home, ‘Just because they are gone doesn’t mean that you won’t see them again one day.’  She was very practical girl in matters of the heart.  Her fashion sense on the other hand was a different story.  She was all about purple (a happy color in her mind), pink, and lots of bling!
She lived everyday to the fullest.  At least to the point her body would let her.  She loved holidays; Halloween, Diwali, and Christmas.  She loved to be with family and sing, do her arts and crafts, dance in her princess dresses and heels, and to giggle with her cousins.  She would look into the sky at butterflies and birds and wondered how it would feel to fly ‘free’ as she put it.  She taught many of us so much about life.  It was hard to think someone so young could be so mature and matter of fact.
She was so excited for Christmas 2010 to get here.  We know she hung on for that reason.  During her last week with us, she said her goodbyes in her way.  She told me, ‘Mama, I’m tired now.’ She made calls to family and left messages in the middle of the night.  She told me to ‘Be calm Mama, be calm’ right before the paramedics came to get her.  The night before she passed she told her Dad, ‘Daddy, I’m flying free!’
She is free to fly high in the sky now.  Free from pain.   We miss her terribly.  The house is too quiet without her loud voice and happy chatter and singing.   How do you learn to be an only child if all you can remember is having a sibling?  How do you parent an only child when all you remember is parenting two?  We are all re-learning how to live life without Siona.  As she said, ‘Just because she is gone doesn’t mean we won’t see her again one day.’
After Siona passed away, her brother sat down with his Dad to write down everything he had learned from his little sister.   He learned the most from his sister.   Her lessons to him became Siona’s Life Lessons for us.   He tries to live everyday with as much zest and enthusiasm as she did.  She would be proud.  We have included ‘Siona’s Life Lessons below.  They keep us strong and focused…living everyday with the way she would want us to – with purpose, making a difference.

Siona and her mom, Reshma

‘Siona’s Life Lessons’:

  1. Live with a smile.
  2. Never give up and always try your best.
  3. Be kind and accepting of people.
  4. Don’t complain about things that aren’t fair.
  5. Be happy with the small things in life such as hot cocoa at Starbucks or going to lunch with daddy, mommy or Mr. Lampy (as she called Sohil sometimes).
  6. Be positive and laugh out loud.
  7.  It’s okay to fly into the sky as long as you have lived with a purpose.
  8.  Always be kind to spiders, because they too have a Mommy and Daddy.
  9.  Always be truthful and tell it like it is.
  10.  Always enjoy moments – big or small.
  11. Be “just the way you are”.
  12.  Make a difference in people’s lives.

The backs of the shirts for our Team in Training for the Rock n Roll marathon and the Big Climb for the Leukemia Society. We are proud to wear Siona’s angel wings.

Thank you Reshma for sharing Siona’s story with us. It’s beautiful and inspiring. I know it was hard. I love you for helping me spread the word for you.

http://www.sionashah.com/

Yep, parents have sex. Ew, gross!

Like the Modern Family episode- the Anniversary- the kids walk in on the parents to surprise them with breakfast in bed.

They get more than they bargained for.

Luke- “It looked like they were wrestling and dad was winning.”

.
I should send the following dialog to ABC. I think they would appreciate it. My screen play is in the works.  Okay, I will try to capture every essence of the HORROR my daughter experienced during this conversation:
(Some background, my daughter is 12. She is a very mature 12. Knows the birds and bees stuff. But she still thinks sex is icky (thank GOD) and she definitely thinks the thought of her parents having sex is SUPER ICKY)

Me: You and your brother need to go to bed before 10 tonight. You guys have been staying up too late. Plus, mommy and daddy need some mommy and daddy time.

Her: What do you mean ‘mommy and daddy time’?

Me: Well, you know, it is after all, your father’s birthday. It would be nice not to watch Phineas and Ferb before we go to bed, and also get some time together. (So trying to be subtle here.)

Her: Eww!!!! WHAT???? You do not DO THAT??? Are you saying you and dad do THAT in the house??

Me: Where would you like us to do it, in the back yard?

Her: MO–om! I mean, don’t you like, DO IT when we are gone?

Me: When are you and your brother gone and we are home alone? Never. So yes, when you go to Grandma’s in a couple weeks, we’ll have some time then. But every other week, we gotta do it under the same roof as you.

Her: So, when we are home sleeping in our beds, you and dad are all, like, kissing and stuff NAKED??? What if Owen walks in?

Me: We take our chances and lock the door. (seriously, I’m grinning so hard on the inside during this convo.)

Her: Well, then I’m coming in your room at night from now on to prevent that from going on!

Me: You sure you want to do that? I mean, what if you come in at accidentally the WRONG time?

Her: OHMYGOSH!!!! YOU’re right!! I’m never coming in your room again. Oh, I’m going to throw up.

Me: Seriously, sweetie. It’s no big deal. We had to make you and your brother at some point. Just think, each of your grandparents did too. And THEY have 3 kids each.

Her: OH MY GOD!!! SCRUB MY BRAIN SCRUB MY BRAIN!!!! WHY did you SAY THAT??? Now I can’t help but think…… oh….. EWWWWW!!!

Me: <giggling> I’m so glad we had this talk sweetie.

Her: I’m going to go scrub my eyes and watch kitten videos on YouTube. I might vomit first.

Me: You do that honey. Just remember, bedtime is 9:30.

Her: <No words just the hugest eye roll EVER.>