Tag Archives: Love

#5WordsToCancer #StrongerThanCancerISurvived

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In one of my usual bouts of insomnia tonight (this morning?) I decided to scroll through my Instagram feed before studying for an exam I have in one of my classes.

If you’re reading this then you know I’m clearly hard at work…

blogging…

but I digress.

In the midst of my thumb swiping, I fell down the rabbit hole into the Instagram page for the I Had Cancer website. It’s a great social networking site for those of us affected in some way by cancer; be it survivor, relative of a cancer patient or someone mid-treatment. It’s also a kickass social platform for people to share their angst, victories and everyday battles with cancer. Our cancer journeys don’t end when treatment does. For many of us, it’s a lengthy journey to take back our life and what little control we have over it.

“I Had Cancer” has launched their #5wordstocancer campaign again. It got me thinking… What if cancer was this tangible entity I could write a letter to? What would I say? What would my five words to cancer be?

you

Dear Cancer,

You may not remember me but I will never forget you.

We met, officially, in December of 2013. You’d been watching me for some time, though only you would know how long that was before we became acquainted. Was it months? Perhaps years?

I had an inkling something wasn’t right. I could feel your presence lingering around me, dropping hints, robbing my curves of their soft flesh for years, leaving behind a frame comparable to that of a pre-pubescent boy. 

When you made your debut into my life that summer (2013), you didn’t introduce yourself properly. You told me your name was stress. But what’s in a name right? So I reserved doubt about your true nature only for conversations with overly concerned family members. 

Apparently their concern was warranted.

By the time you revealed your true nature to me, you had already begun infesting my life from behind the scenes. My colon, my rectum, my lymph nodes. You were a literal pain in the ass. I thought major colon resection surgery was enough to evict your sorry ass from occupying my temple. But being the persistent little fucker you are, I was wrong. 

Too many lymph nodes were tainted by your indecency and overexposure to the healthy cells in my body. So you introduced me to Chemotherapy and Steroids. I hated all of you but I never questioned why you (Cancer) chose me. I never wondered why in all the healthy people of the world you wanted me. You’re a selfish prick, why not me?

 Your friend Chemo took my energy. The steroids brought insomnia, and also an unbelievably strong desire to rotate furniture and clean at 2 a.m. (Who would have guessed right?) My sleep patterns are still somewhat fucked.  Being the bully you are, you taunted me by letting my hair thin just enough to make me self-conscious, but not enough for anyone else (but my hairdresser) to notice. Guess what fucker? It grew back in twice as thick and healthier than ever. 

And my curves? They’re back too. In one year, I’ve gained more weight than I could have hoped for. I fit into my jeans in all the right places. My thighs are so sexy they can’t stop touching each other 🙂 I finally feel like the beautiful woman I am. The warrior. The survivor.

I should really be thanking you Cancer.

You brought me closer to my family. You’ve given me new found friendships that continue to change my life for the better. I’m inspiring those around me and taking better care of my mind and body than I ever thought I would. I’ve tapped into an inner strength that I didn’t even know existed. You tried to take it all from me, but in the end Cancer, all you did was give me everything.

I know there’s always that slim possibility we’ll meet again someday. Just know if we do, I’ll be ready for you. You’ve been warned.

Never or truly yours,

Amber

#StrongerThanCancerISurvived

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If I’m Bloggin’ – I’m Happy!

Or in my case tonight, by my giant nine-year-old
Or the “almost as tall as me” nine-year-old

It feels like I’m on holiday right now; even though my nine-year-old is restlessly karate chopping me in his sleep while his sister strategically positioned her feet  near my head. I’m happy. They’re both sleeping and I finally have a moment to breathe, relax and blog.

I’ve been craving to write a good blog entry for weeks! About anything, everything and nothing at all. So much is happening everyday. If I don’t take time to write it down, type it out; I feel like these moments will be lost forever.

85bfcd7befabe015abeb3a1570349c48 - Version 2In January I stood in the middle of seated room of 300, in New York City, to have a fifteen minute conversation – live, in front of everyone, while being video recorded – with one of my everyday heroes; dating and life coach Matthew Hussey. Hussey told me point blank if I continue to sacrifice my love life for the sake of my children’s happiness I’m going to “fuck them up” and cause more damage than good in the long run. His rationale was that they would see their “mum” putting them first and never putting my own romantic happiness in the forefront. Leading my kiddos to believe it was what they were supposed to do as adults. Food for thought. Thank you for that Mr. Hussey, you’ve given me plenty to think about.

Two weeks ago, I traveled from Virginia to Maryland to Massachusetts in one day…by car…toting my children along for most of the journey. One of my best friends crossed the stage at her college graduation in Virginia Beach. I was not only there for moral support but to embarrass the bajeezus out of her by screaming out “I LOVE YOU KRISTIN!” in a very crowded, semi-quiet, stadium size, campus auditorium. Because hellerrrr, that’s what best friends do woman!

It was no small feat for a single mother of two to graduate with honors. I’m still so proud of you Snookum Snookums! When you’ve been friends as long as we have, and know as much as we know about each-other, you come up with silly nick names. It’s out of love, don’t judge.

Mama's first Sox game at Fenway, woot woot! #SOXNATION
Mama’s first Sox game at Fenway, woot woot! #SOXNATION

In April, I finally attended my first Sox game (SOX NATION!) and with the only person in this world I could imagine being there with; my son. I also started a kickass internship with quite possibly some of the most intelligent, interesting and charismatic people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with – acting as an intern and conservation writer for the US Fish and Wildlife Service WordPress blog.

This past Saturday, I pet a Madagascar hissing cockroach. Or as my threenager (about to be four) put it, a “kissing hockroach.” My son rocked it out at both of his soccer games this weekend. My daughter painted her little heart out designing faerie houses for our garden.

Some of our faerie garden supplies, my daughter walked off with the rest. And that glue...definitely got returned. Warning labels about hazardous fumes should probably be written on the FRONT of the bottle somewhere...not on back behind the packaging.
Some of our faerie garden supplies, my daughter walked off with the rest. And that glue…definitely got returned. Warning labels about hazardous fumes should probably be written on the FRONT of the bottle somewhere…not on back behind the packaging.

My 2015 memory box is already flooded with so many invaluable treasures from beautiful moments. And it’s only June 2. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year holds!

A beautiful life isn’t built in a day. A beautiful life, to me, is made moment by moment – when you do that thing you’re afraid of doing, say the thing you fear being criticized for and expand your mindset beyond society’s limitations.

One moment can lead to even greater moment, a connection with a person you may not have met which can lead to a job and/or career choice you never thought you’d have the opportunity to make. It’s all about choice. Will you choose to stay within the boundaries of your self-inflicted comfort zone? Or will you break free and shatter the parameters of your own fears?

Hey Check Out My Port! (part 1)

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Warm weather is finally here in New England! I don’t dare mention the “s” word. You know–that white, fluffy stuff that comes from the sky. Enough of it was moved about in Boston, this past winter, to “fill Gillette stadium 90 times” according to Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker. You know what I’m talking about. Even though it’s May, I’m not going into detail about it because after all this is New England. If it could sn– eh hem, get really cold again in May when it shouldn’t…this is where it would happen.

Warmer weather means less layers and more skin. Let’s keep this rated PG you dirty bird, get your mind out of the gutter…not THAT much skin. I’m talking tank tops, capris, sleeveless tanks. And one more thing for me, for other cancer patients…clear port visibility.

The area that my port was placed in makes it very, very visible. At Victoria’s Secret, one employee in particular always remembers me.  She gives me that “you look so familiar but I don’t want to offend you, so I’ll just ask if you need assistance instead” look. Until she helps me with something in the fitting room.  Then she’s all smiles and says “Oh that’s right! I remember you now from the…” At a loss for words, she touches her shoulder just below her clavicle–where my port is.

There’s also some concerned, elderly, female cashiers at one of the grocery stores I frequent. I can think of two or three of them off hand. This is the part that always gets me. They make conversation with me, idle chit chat, speaking to my kids or asking how they’re doing if they’re not with me. Eyes shift to my shoulder, in a passing glance but get fixated (momentarily) on my port. The next time their eyes meet mine, it’s this look of…I don’t know, pain? It’s a look I’ve gotten to know so well. The look of someone who, by some means, recognizes my port. “My God, how does someone so young have cancer? How could this happen to her?” THAT look.

You’d think with as many times as I’ve seen it, I’d be conditioned to not feel what I do when it happens. But I do. And every damn time someone gives me that look, it makes me want to burst into tears.

Not because I feel weak or think I’m too young to have had cancer. It pulls on my emotions because of the genuine element of human compassion behind it. Because I have never seen so much empathy, love and genuine concern from both people I know and total strangers in my entire life.

I’ve seen men as big as Sasquatch look like they’re about to cry when they hear I had cancer. Journalists, who are tough as nails in the field, look at me with such endearment because of what I endured.

There are still kindhearted, loving and sincerely good people on this earth.

It gives me hope.

Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?

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(above: My daughter and I after building our first snowman of the season!)

By now, I think most New englanders would agree…whoever pissed off Queen Elsa needs to go and apologize so we can get out this prolonged state of frozen Arendelle. It’s been snow, snow and more snow for four straight weeks in my neck of the woods. But before I got sick of the cold, there was this beautiful afternoon I shared with my daughter.

 The type of chemotherapy treatment I went through was 5-FU with Leucovorin and Oxaliplatin. Now every cancer type has a different type of treatment and each stage of cancer can also have treatment variations as well. Some people need chemotherapy and radiation, others need just one or the other. Some are extremely fortunate and only need major surgery to remove the tumors/affected cells.

My cancer treatment regime consisted of major colon resection surgery, followed by 12 rounds of chemotherapy. One chemo session every two weeks. Because of low blood cell counts (such as platelets and white cells) my treatment stretched out over nine months instead of six.

There are also different reactions to different types of chemo. Some people get hot flashes, experience pain with extreme heat or when eating/drinking anything hot. My reaction was sensitivity to cold.

Beginning chemo in early February, in New England, definitely wasn’t something I had prepared myself for. The residual effects of chemo left my body defenseless against the harsh, bitter weather. I couldn’t play in the snow with my kids. I couldn’t eat or drink anything cold unless I want to feel like I was swallowing broken glass. Anytime I went outside into the freezing air, I had to bundle up (picture Ralphie from “A Christmas Story”). Scarves, a hat, gloves, sometimes two layers of jackets and two pairs of sweatpants was my uniform of choice from February to May last year.

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You can imagine the elation I felt in January when we had our first heavy snow fall of 2015! I couldn’t wait to get outside. My daughter and I threw on our snow gear and headed out onto the back deck as the snow continued falling. It was the perfect texture for snowman building, fluffy and easy to pack. Not too fluffy where it won’t stick together but not full of too much moisture either. We had a blast playing in the snow together.

To be out in the cold without experiencing pins and needles in my face, feet and hands was amazing! The tingling sensation I had associated with cold weather was gone. I kept waiting for the pain to set in, but it never did. Time passed quickly as we built our own personal version of Olaf. By the time my daughter and I went inside, my son had finished watching a movie he started with my mom before us girls had gone outside. That means I had been out in the snow for nearly two hours without the slightest bit of discomfort!

The further out my survivorship goes, complacency becomes easier to settle into. It’s only been five months since my last chemo treatment. Already it feels like this bizarre, waking dream that’s since passed. Surreal. Until something gently reminds me.

Each time I go back to the Infusion Suite, sit in that big blue chair and get my port flushed or have blood work drawn, I’m reminded. All of 2014 was spent, literally, fighting for my life. I love harder, laugh louder, dance crazier and live my life moment to  moment because of what cancer taught me.

I’m still sick of the snow at this point. Fortunately for me though, this winter, it’s because of an entirely different reason 🙂

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Pay It Forward :)

My children and I were getting a little stir crazy last week. We have a pretty busy schedule but the routine of it all gets a bit overwhelming sometimes. I’m the kind of person who needs adventure, variety, to not be doing the same thing each day. Since my son has something going on every day after school Monday through Friday…every…single…week…it gets to be monotonous.

I was looking forward to coming home and throwing on my jammies after my son’s appointment that day. A few days earlier, the Patriots won their game against the Ravens. Which meant that one of my son’s fave local restaurants was serving up the kids menu for free all day! No, it’s not organic but I figure once in a great while won’t hurt anything. My son was oober excited so I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d rather come home than go out to eat that night.

We left my son’s appointment later that night, heading to the restaurant. Dom (my son) and Izzy (my daughter) were so well behaved I thought I must have walked right into the Twilight Zone for sure! I mean one behaving okay, but both of them? Wow. Not only were they behaving but they were entertaining each-other and the surrounding tables with their comical theatrics.

(SIDE NOTE: Izzy is obsessed with Disney’s Frozen right now. Absolutely obsessed in every sense of the word. To the point where normal everyday conversations become lines from Frozen. Last night when I told her it was bedtime, she went to run away from me and said “Mommy, you have to tell me ‘Elsa stop!’ okay?” Then tonight she went to kiss me. Lovingly, she placed a hand on each of my cheeks. Looking into my eyes with a kissey face on her lips, she said “Oh Ana, if only someone out there loved you.” [this is what Hans says to Ana in the movie for those of you who haven’t seen it] This was followed by excessive giggling and “Oh Mommy! I’m such a little stinker huh?!?” Like I said, obsessed!)

Anyhow, she was belting out “Let It Go” in her loudest Disney princess voice as we waited for our food. I leaned in close to her and let her know she needed to use her quiet, inside voice to sing. This little goofball looked me square in the face, laughed out loud and then (in a very not so quiet, outside voice) said “Mommy! I farted! Oh what’s that smell?!?! Who did that?!?”

On their way out, a couple I’ve known well over 15 years stopped by our booth to say hello. They had been sitting in the back of the restaurant (unbeknownst to me since my back was facing them). I hadn’t seen them in years. It was great reconnecting with them over pictures of their grandchildren, joking about the times we had when I used to work for them. They each got a huge hug from me before going on their way.

Me and the kids went back to our meal. I kept thinking how I was going to leave a pretty sweet tip for our server. He brewed a fresh pot of coffee for me, brought my soup out as soon as it was done (still piping hot) and kept our “to go” order of ice cream in the freezer so we could pick it up on the way out. All without me asking. It was such a great night. The energy was light, care free.

When it came time for the check, our server told me that the couple I had been speaking with earlier picked up our tab. Even gratuity had been covered. I was speechless.

So this is my message to you. As we all start off 2015, let’s start it off right. PAY IT FORWARD! A simple act of random kindness doesn’t have to be done for someone you know. That’s the joy in it. You don’t have to be dough loaded to make a difference. Sending a personalized “thank you” or “thinking of you” note/card can be all it takes.

Whatever you put out into the Universe comes back to you, I truly believe that! It may not be today or even next week (well…for some people it might) but at some point there’s a boomerang effect. When someone does something special for you, keep that good deed moving forward. Do something selfless for another. You’d be surprised how much a simple act of kindness can change someone’s day for the better 🙂

‘Tis the season…for a healthy colon…Part 2

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As my mother drove us home, I answered a call from one of my older brothers. “Hey Wonder Woman!” It had become his new nickname for me since I began going through cancer care. “Hulkster!” Yeah, that’s right, Wonder Woman and the Hulk. Cheesy as it sounds, that’s how we roll!

My brother is a man of few words. But I know him well enough to know just how elated he was by the news. Over the last year, I could hear the concern in his voice more than once when we spoke about my treatment or diagnosis. As hard as it was for me to go through, I think it may have been even harder for friends and family to witness. Sitting by the sidelines, watching someone you love battle a potentially life-threatening disease, unable to do more than offer your emotional support…it’s heart-wrenching.

The holidays will be so different for my family and I this year. I was diagnosed five days before Christmas last year and went in for surgery on New Year’s Eve. I only shared the news with my siblings, parents and a few other friends and relatives until after the holidays. I had battled the decision to tell everyone via Facebook but didn’t know if I was ready to.

The day after my colon-resection surgery, New Year’s Day, I decided to share my diagnosis with everyone else via social media. The responses ranged from sadness to encouragement. A few people even thought my account had been hacked.

The holidays were a difficult time for us, not knowing what to expect or what the new year would bring. While everyone else was opening gifts and celebrating–my family was sharing tears, facing fear of the unknown. We faced it together as an unbreakable unit but it didn’t make it any less concerning.

This year, I’ll be spending the holidays without fear of the future. I am so eager to see what the new chapters of my life will bring. I’ve already been graced with meeting so many like-minded individuals. Like-minded, in the sense that we share passion for living extraordinary lives. I’m not content to live a life by the nine to five standard  that society says I should. Cancer has catapulted me full force into tapping into the energy of creativity, of visualizing a beautiful life of my own doing. I can hardly wait to see what 2015 brings. I look forward not with anxiety, fear or worry but with clarity, eagerness and anticipation. Bring it on Universe! I am so ready 🙂

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Present Day; Post Chemo Moving Forward

Where have the last two weeks gone? A book signing event, an Abraham-Hicks workshop, a children’s birthday party, Canadian Thanksgiving celebration, day-trip to Salem, Mass., classes, homework, housework, third-grade basketball signups; pre-workout, reps, set, repeat, protein shakes, homework, doctor’s appointments, housework, massage therapy, Reiki, doing laundry that multiplies quicker than jack-rabbits, group meetings for class assignments, redecorating, parent/teacher conference, catching up on “The Vampire Diaries”… (breathe!)

Life is always an adventure when you’re a single mom. Especially when you have two, high-energy, extremely bright children.

My life is almost back to normal; my body feels stronger than it has since my cancer journey began. I’ve gained nearly 15 pounds since I was first diagnosed, since surgery, since chemotherapy treatments started. I am so thankful for the weight gain (as the song says, “I love my butt and I won’t shut-up!”). Thankful for chemo being over, thankful for my son…who just sat down at the table with me, and his laptop (my old computer) and said “Oh look at me! I’m all type-typey, nerdy-nerdy like my mom!” Then he began to button mash the keyboard, like a mad man playing the organ,  causing a fit of hysterical laughter. Love that kiddo of mine.

In the months to come, I have several follow-up appointments; oncology, surgical, nurse-practitioner of oncology, GI specialist, an ultrasound, a colonoscopy and lab work.

(Side rant: to those of you who keep putting it off…get it done! It has the potential to save your life, it saved mine. You don’t feel a thing. If you’re scheduled to have one or your doctor is recommending you do so, get ‘er done!)

To be sitting here with my son, watching my daughter play; it’s the greatest gift I could ever hope for. Cancer has taught me to prioritize, live fearlessly, love with my whole heart and make each day count.

Cancer was a much-needed catalyst for me.  I never would have pushed myself so hard to do so much. It’s unfortunate that it took getting diagnosed with cancer for me to change my life so drastically. But I am (and will always be) grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity to do so. I’m one of the fortunate ones.

I never once questioned “Why is this happening to me?” But I do question so much else about it. When I see other cancer patients suffering, losing hair, losing hope; it breaks my heart. Especially pediatric cancer, it’s unbearable. When I look back at this year, it’s easy to admit just how difficult it was. Yet the energy has changed so much since the beginning of the year. There’s so much more than a road to perfect health before me.

Recently, I attended a book signing for “Buried Beneath the Words” author, Betel Arnold. We connected instantly. There were so many parallels in our lives. She saw herself in me; a young woman with hope and dreams bigger than the sky. She made direct eye contact and without blinking said, “You are destined for great things. I can see it all over you! I’m so happy for you and the path you’re on. You’re going to accomplish so much and I would really like to be part of it.” Her words moved a mountain within my spirit.

For the most part, I think my life is in pretty good order. It’s taken some time to find myself. Everyday is a learning process but living with gratitude has become a way of life, a state of being. I’m no super hero. Yes I have battled cancer, gone through chemo and am raising two children on my own while obtaining my bachelor’s degree. But I have my days just like anyone else. Having tough days is important for contrast. It gives me greater appreciation for the moments of joy; for the days when everything just seems to flow.

After going through chemotherapy for nearly eight months, even the bad days are a blessing. For every toddler temper tantrum and eight-year-old melt down, for every sink full of dishes and pile upon pile of never-ending laundry needing to be done; I’m truly thankful. These are days that I still get to be here for, experiencing the gift of life. The good and the not so good. Even when my children make me want to pull my hair out, I have to be thankful there’s still hair on this head to pull. It’s all about perspective.

Gratitude, Day 18: Family is Everything

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DAY 18:

Thursday/September 25:

There were so many moments of gratitude for me on Thursday. I can honestly say Thursday was the first day, in nearly a year, that I felt like myself again.

Before my cancer diagnosis I would cook 3 to 4 meals per week. This involved loud, booty shaking music being played, dance parties in the kitchen with my kids, “hip-bumping” with my boy and singing off key (loud and proud) with my daughter.

Dinners aren’t just sit-down family meals in our home. They’re a chance to laugh, play, share and bring my family closer together.

I’ve been so exhausted since treatment began that moments like these became scarce. I was still preparing meals, but not as frequently as before. And we surely weren’t dancing around the kitchen, as often, either.

Yesterday, though, was different. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. My children were so well behaved. Not only were they behaving for me but they were getting along with each-other as well. Which, if you’re a parent of multiples, you can totally appreciate.

Thursday night I cooked up some organic steak tips with garlic, onions and teriyaki sauce. Organic sweet corn and lemon-infused, Sicily-inspired, whole grain, non-GMO brown rice. (Sorry if I offend the vegetarians out there but yes I do enjoy steak and poultry. It’s always grass-fed, humanely-raised, organic beef that my son and I eat. My daughter is a born vegetarian and won’t touch the stuff.)

I brought my Mac in the kitchen and turned on my iTunes playlist. The song “Wobble” came on and my son came running into the kitchen to dance with me. He bumped his hip into mine, trying to see if he was strong enough yet to unground my feet with his motions. (The answer to that is “Nope, sorry little man, not even close!”)

My daughter was doing her own little dance; popping her hip out to one side while spinning in circles at the same time. My son’s face was overtaken by the infamous “duck face,” followed by ear to ear grins and self-confident head nods.

Once I finished cooking, and dancing, my son helped me set up the dinner table. “Mangia, mangia!” I told them as we all sat down once I fixed us our plates. We three, musketeers, me and my babes. My daughter raised her fork, giggled, then repeated, “Mangia, mangia!” The three of us held hands, as I said a prayer of gratitude; for the food we were about to eat, for the blessings of family, for allowing us to share in that moment. Oh, and my eight-year-old son? He gave thanks for there not being a zombie apocalypse 🙂

Gratitude, Day 17:

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DAY 17:

Wednesday/September 24:

To say I’ve been fortunate in family-life, would be an eloquent understatement. The past ten months, since my cancer diagnosis, has brought the ones I love even closer to me. They have gone above and beyond to lift my spirits; providing love and laughter. Sharing in my tears, providing an ear or two to listen, cooking dinners, watching my two young children when fatigue kept me in bed for hours on end.

They’re my earth-bound angels, every single one of them. From my aunt and uncle and parents who were there at the hospital with me the day I underwent major surgery. To my sister, her best friend and my niece–who all helped look after my children while I was in the hospital recovering. My siblings accompanying me to chemo treatments. Friends sharing funny videos and quotes on social networking sites. My ex-husband’s family, sending prayers and their love. My children guiding me through, tethering me to life, allowing me to live in present moments of sheer joy.

First thing Wednesday morning, upon waking, I meditated as usual. Then checked into Facebook to find myself tagged in a post by one of my nieces. A few friends and family members have been nominating each-other, myself included, for daily gratitude postings on Facebook. It helps keep the positive energy flowing. There are so many negative things that social media can be used for. We choose to keep it uplifting with moments of gratitude and motivational quotes.

After reading my niece’s post, you’ll understand just how my gratitude moment went “from a trickle to a roar!” as the fairies of Pixie Hollow say 🙂

“I am greatful for my aunt Amber …for being the kick ass super women she is! She has been through soooo much over the past couple years or more and you would never know. She has such a great spirit true definition of a FIGHTER! Anything she has set out to accomplish has been accomplished. Her love for life and all it has to give her is something to admire. Her never ending faith that every little thing is gonna be alright. ..the fact that she has gone through 12 chemo sessions and came out with an even better love for life and with her beautiful smile even brighter. She is so positive and full of love …I myself have no idea how she does the things she does and still can be “our Amber” . With this said I am greatful that she has shown cancer who is boss and continued to raise two kids on her own! That’s what our family calls Amber Strong. ..so my beautiful amazing aunt I love you sooo and I am blessed for you and all you have conquered!”

Thank you for posting what you did darlin’, love you kiddo!

Gratitude Day 14: Snuggles With My Boy

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This week has been such a blur. While I’ve had several moments of gratitude throughout the past four or five days, finding time to blog about them has been a bit of a challenge. It’s just been so busy–good busy–between classes, my children and everything else in between. It’s the everything else in between part that takes up a decent chunk of my time. Going here and there for my children to different appointments or scheduled activities, my own appointments, homework, making a bajillion phone calls to get this thing done or to move that thing along. The days I have a moment to breathe, a moment to take it all in, be grateful…I am so very thankful for those moments.

DAY 14 (Sunday/September 21):

My eight-year-old son is intellectually advanced for his age. I know I’m biased because he’s my son but this kid has been speaking in complete sentences since he was 18-months-old. He only spoke a few words here and there until he was a year and a half. Then he began daycare. Within one week, he was using full-blown sentences.

I was living in Colorado at the time; long distance phone calls to my mother were a daily occurrence. One day we were on the phone and she heard my son talking to me in the background. “Oh, is so and so over?” she asked. “Nope, that’s your grandson talking!” She was astonished at how his verbal communication skills had advanced so quickly. Maybe he was listening, in utero, all those times I read to him through my pregnant belly. Who knows really, but he’s sharp as a whip. His doctor told me that “he’s going to be a famous lawyer someday and buy you the house of your dreams.” In our family he’s known as “The Great Debater,” a child beyond his years who loves to make compromises in order to get his way. And believe me, this kid is damn good when it comes to bargaining.

Last winter, my mom asked my son if he wanted to make ten dollars shoveling a walkway out of her snow-covered back patio. He agreed, eager to make himself a few quick bucks. About half way through, he came into the house and said “Hey grandma, if I shovel the stairs off can you make it twenty?” My mother looked at him, wide eyes, trying not to laugh but also not wanting to shut him down. She said “How about I make it 15?” For nearly ten minutes they went back and forth, trying to come to an agreement as to how much he should be paid. They ended up settling when my mom told him it’s 15 or nothing at all. I do believe my son has met his match in wheeling and dealing when it comes to his grandmother.

He may be eight-years-old but, sometimes, I honestly feel like I’m raising a teenager. The issue with children who are so ahead of the learning curve, is that emotionally they’re still a child. But intellectually, they’re already years beyond their chronological age (words from his pediatrician). Which can make things like rule setting, and following, a challenge.

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My gratitude moment for Sunday occurred in the evening. My son didn’t give me the slightest bit of difficulty when it came time for bed. He talked me into watching a movie with him, even though it was a school night. Once we got all settled in and ready to watch the movie, he snuggled right up to me until he fell asleep.

I’m thankful that he’s still in the phase where he wants to spend time with me. He still loves cuddling with mom, which he probably wouldn’t be too thrilled about me sharing on a public blog! He also isn’t embarrassed to tell me he loves me out in public or give me a hug when I drop him off at school. Giving him a kiss on the cheek or forehead is a major no-n0 at school, but I’ll take what I can get. I usually end up laying a smooch or two on him anyhow, mom always wins!

One thing any parent can tell you, is that time spent raising children is always fleeting. Before you know it–you blink and they’re going into elementary school, getting their driver’s license or leaving the nest altogether. You have to cherish every moment before they’re grown. All those childhood memories build a foundation for who your child will become as an adult. Believe me, those trivial moments all add up. They’re some of the most wonderful moments for parents to experience but also some of the best memories your children will have.