Sunday, December 6, 2015

Arts and Crafts

Since I have loads of extra down time this close to Christmas, I decided to make my two year old niece a quiet book as her gift. Who am I kidding?  It was really just as fun for me to make as it will be for her - if not more so.  It turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself. The idea behind it is to support fine motor skills and make learning colours and counting fun. 

Felt is a really good medium because for a few reasons. It doesn't fray, it's thicker than most other fabrics and you don't need to sew everything - a glue gun works nicely. For the writing I used 3D fabric paint, as markers tend to bleed on felt. 

This one helps to teach how to button and unbutton clothes - without the pressure. Inside is a heart ❤️

This is to help counting. The tops of the cupcakes come off (glue gunned Velcro) and you can match the number to the corresponding number of sprinkles. 

Again, all the colours are Velcro'd on and can be taken off and matched with the corresponding colour. 

Our family is spread across the country so this is a really good visual. From Nana and Grandpa to Auntie Nancy and Uncle Peter, it's now easy to show little N how close (or far away) all her loved ones live. 

This one with the beads help counting, too. 

The zipper helps fine motor skills and the marshmallows encourage counting. And for a monster, it's pretty darn cute. 

Finally, the hearts help match with colours and can come off the close pins (fine motor skills). 

I sewed the pages together back to back to hide any business and keep the 'pages' a little firmer. I'll use binder rings to attach all the pages together. Then, it's off to the post office so it will make it to Ontaio for Christmas!

I wonder what will keep me occupied this week.....

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Post Op Revelations

Okay, I'm going to try to keep from getting too sappy and emotional - but no guarantees....

First of all, I feel it's really important to point out that years and years of watching Grey's Anatomy and ER did not prepare me AT ALL for this experience.  Like, at all. 

First revelation:  This is the most vulnerable I have felt in my life.   I really (really) like to be in control, and in this particular situation I had no control at all.  Looking back, I honestly do not know what kept me from running from the operating room (it might have had something to do with the hospital gown...) but I actually felt calm going in.  The room was cold.  The table was small.  The faces were unfamiliar.  I had only met the surgeon once before for a total of 20 minutes, and here I was trusting her to cut me open, take out an organ, and sew me back up.  And I get that nurses do what they do every single day, but for me it was all completely new so it would have been nice if one or two of them laughed at my stupid jokes to ease the awkwardness...

My mom tells me I have been saying *me do myself* since I was two years old.  So this was really an exercise in trusting and relying on others to help me do what I could not do sit up and walk. 

I also felt completely vulnerable trusting that my body would do what it needed to do in order to heal.  For me, this was terrifying.  Would it fight off infection?  Would the stitches take?  Would it know how to mend itself back together?  Thankfully, the answer is YES, but it was anxiety provoking, to say the least.  For those of you following, the deets:  My tumor was benign, no cancer or precancerous cells found, and approximately the size of a 18-19 week fetus.  I have a 5 1/2 inch scar that is healing awesomely.

There is nothing like something like this to make you realize how completely um...fragile...we all are.  Driving home from the hospital, I was conscious of every single car, every single red light, every single speed limit.  Like, OMG people....slow down....don't you know we could all die?!?!?!  Do you want to die!?!

Revelation #2:  I have to say that I have a HUGE appreciation for women who have C-sections (read: more than one...)  I mean, recovering from major surgery and looking after a new born baby?!?!?!?!  And doing this more than once!?!?!?!?!  Seriously blows my mind.  Women are power houses.  And the resiliency of people who have gone through horrible things like cancer, multiple and/or invasive surgeries, or extreme pain absolutely ASTOUNDS me.  Humans are amazing creatures and capable of enduring so much.  Like, two of the three people I shared the hospital room with who SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT, despite the guy in the bed beside me who cried all night long, and the incessant beeping of the nurse call button or the monitors.  Who sleeps with all that going on?  Obviously someone with good sleep meds.  But in all seriousness, to anyone who has ever gone through something outside of the norm, you have my admiration. 

Revelation #3:  I HATE being stoned.  I don't need to spend much time on this point.  Just that I would rather be in a bit more pain and be able to finish my sentence coherently than being higher than a kite.  This is a bit upsetting for me because I was looking forward to legitimately and legally being high on Percocet. I mean, I didn't even have enough of an attention span to play Candy Crush.  This must be a Type A quality...

Revelation #4: Attitude is everything.  I don't miss my uterus.  At least not yet.  I think if it were my arm or a leg that was missing and I could actually see it was gone then I would maybe grieve it a little more.  But I can't see that it's missing.  I don't miss it.  And at the end of the day, it wasn't really a choice.  It had to come out.  I come from three generations (at least) of Miller women who have had the same thing.  I am grateful.  Grateful that we found it so quickly, grateful that I am healing well, grateful that there were no major complications, grateful that I am still ALIVE.  I have a beautiful son (who....well, let's face it....everything is riding on him now as my only biological heir.  He has a lot to live up to...I hope he doesn't crack under pressure...hahahaha, just joking....he's doing pretty well, so far....). 

Revelation #5:  Single parenting SUCKS.  For the first 10 days I had a difficult time even looking after myself, so Q stayed with his dad.  He would come and visit for a few hours.  It made me realize this:  It is impossible to be a *parent* every other Wednesday and Sunday.  When Q came over for a *visit*, he was shy,quiet and things were awkward for the first little while.  I had things planned out so that we could make the most of the time we spent together.  We played board games and worked on some homework and had a cuddle session on the couch.  And then he would leave.  I didn't feel like a parent.  I felt like a friend of the family.  My opinion on co-parenting: Unless a parent is physically or emotionally abusive or there are extreme circumstances, parents should be allowed to parent their child equally - regardless of how inconvenient it might be for the other parent.  It was the worst, most helpless I've ever felt as a parent.  You cannot establish a strong relationship once a week.  It is impossible. 

Revelation #6:  I have amazing people in my life.  I'm not going to lie - I was feeling a little sorry for myself when this all first happened.  Because if you're married and something like this happens, you have someone to bounce things off of, someone to help you make decisions, someone to wake up in the middle of the night and say *What if...* or *Will you still love me if...* and I didn't have that.  I had to make decisions on my own and then deal with the repercussions...on my own.  What I will say is that I have an amazing group of friends and family who have totally rallied around me.  From my brother and sis-in-law who would FaceTime with my niece after afternoon naps to my mom who came to stay with me for two weeks and did everything for me to my BFF who dropped everything to come and stay with me for a week less than a month away from Christmas to those who checked in with me daily just to see how I was doing.  I know these people all had things to do, commitments to keep, lives to live, and they put it all aside to be with me.  It means so much more to me than I could ever say. 

Revelation  #7:  Faith is an amazing thing.  Faith is hard.  It's trusting in something and Someone you cannot see.  But I can honestly say that I would not have been able to get through this without faith. Faith that there is something bigger than me and a plan that I cannot see.  I find comfort in knowing that God's hand is in everything.  It has united me with people from all ages, races, and walks of life.  I have had people praying for me and we've been brought together by our belief that The Big Guy Upstairs has the final say - not some dumb tumor.  While I certainly don't feel invincible, I know Someone who is, and He's got His eye on me.  I'd seriously recommend this faith thing to everyone and anyone who is searching for something more. 

Those are my main revelations.  The Type A, OCD'er in me would really like there to be an even number of revelations, but what are you gonna do about it, right? 

Seven is my lucky number, so I guess it all works out in the end. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Happy Birthday To Me

Being a hypochondriac, I tend to avoid the doctor.  Because if I went to the doctor every time I thought something was wrong, I would be there every other day.  It amazes me that that, with all the things that could go wrong, more often than not our bodies are well oiled machines. 

However, in the spring I kept getting bacterial infections - Strep throat, UTI's.  My period, which was always consistent, knocking on my door every 28 days was becoming a very unexpected visitor, coming whenever it wanted and staying for longer than I would like.  And being a total B**** while it was here.

So I went to the doctor.  We did the whole 9 yards of testing and were relieved to find that the only thing out of whack was my blood sugars.  Low enough that I was not diabetic (yet) but high enough to warrant some radical lifestyle changes in order to ensure I would not be diabetic within the next few years. 

I started by cutting out sugar.  This, for me, was almost as hard as quitting smoking.  I love sugar.  In everything.  I have sweet teeth, not a sweet tooth.  Once that was done, I cut out gluten, dairy and red meat.  Within weeks, I had lost 8lbs and 2 inches from my stomach (probably from bloating...).  I was feeling great.  People were noticing a difference.  Clothes were fitting looser. 

Then I felt it.

I wasn't quite sure what "it" was.  It was hard and it was in my abdomen.  I knew I had been eating better, so the thought crossed my mind that under the layers of fat that had been shed I had rock hard abs and wouldn't have to worry about doing 100 sit ups every night and every morning.  I was also hoping the same phenomena would show itself in my behind and thighs. 

I was in the doc's office getting results for something else and this voice in my head kept saying, "Tell her about it.  Tell her about it.  Tell her about it."  So I did.  Prefacing it with my, "I know I'm a hypochondriac, but..."

This led to a very awkward moment whereby I had to tell my doctor 3 times I was sure I was not pregnant because I have not had sex in a very long time and I was certain that was a necessary link in the pregnancy chain.  My doctor should not play poker because her poker face sucks.  She went white and very serious and had me in for a CT scan within days.  The next day the result:

I do not have rock hard abs.

I have a rock hard tumor.

In my uterus.

The size of a melon.

Days after that, I had appointments with specialists and biopsies were booked.

Ten days later I was sitting in the specialist's office when she told me it has grown even more and is now sitting just under my rib cage.  I look...pregnant...  Two minutes into our visit, we had booked a total hysterectomy for the following week.  That's this coming Monday.

Monday I will join the hundreds of thousands of women who have gone before me with reproductive "issues" and total hysterectomies.  Two of which are my paternal grandmother and aunt. 

Monday I will no longer be able to have any more biological children.

I've been trying to figure out how I feel about that.  My whole life, I thought for sure I'd have oodles of children running around with my blood running through their veins.  When Q's dad and I split, I thought for sure someone else would come along to make that dream happen.  And now, here we are...he (whomever *he* is) hasn't shown up yet, and now my uterus is exiting stage left (or abdomen, lower right).

Here's the thing, I think I'm totally okay with it.  Like, I've forced myself to try and get really sad over it - but I just can't.  Maybe I'm in shock, because from finding the mass to surgery date has been just under a month.  But maybe, I'm just okay with it.  I would rather choose life, than hope for something that might not ever happen.  My life has taken many twists and turns that I certainly have not planned, but every twist has turned out better than I could have ever planned.  The truth is, I'm relieved.

I'm relieved I found it.

I'm relieved I listened to that little voice in my head.

I'm relieved the doctors have moved on it so fast.

I'm relieved soon my organs won't be so squished and my lower back won't hurt and my tummy won't feel so bloated and it won't feel like I have to pee every 5 minutes. 

I'm relieved technology has come so far that this is considered a *low-risk* operation and that my gynecologist is totally hip and wears Fluvogs.  I feel like I can trust some one's judgement in the operating room if I can approve of their fashion choices. 

And then let's talk about the blessings:

No more periods.  NO more cramps.  4-6 weeks of spa (I mean, recovery...) time.  And like 10lbs instant weight loss.

Also, I have been reminded over and over again just how am blessed that I have so many wonderful friends and family around me who have listened while I've processed things out loud, who have been praying for me, and who have been gifting me with awesome things to do with the next six weeks of free time that I have on my hands (adult colouring books and the newly released Humans of New York book).  Any my mother, who has dropped everything to nurse me back to health.  What would I do without my momma?

I wasn't going to blog about this, because it's my uterus.  And that's kind of private and uncomfortable and taboo and gross.  But here's the thing...women everywhere are suffering from similar things.  A mom on Q's hockey team is going through the same, and a colleague at work, and a dear friend, and so I thought it's a shame for us all to be suffering in silence.  Let's talk about it and not be shamed. 

Let's talk about it.

Because it's not going away. 

Fibroids, tumours, endometriosis, cysts.

They're not going away.

So tell your story.  I bet there will be at least 10 women around you, suffering from the same, and wishing there was someone to talk to about it.

Women have to be there for other women.  We *get* each other.  Every experience should unite us in our womanhood. 

I don't know if mine is cancerous.  Once it's out, they'll send it to the cancer agency and they'll run tests and also go over the two biopsies I've already had.  Chances are very low that it I'm remaining optimistic.  But I'll be sure to tell you all about what they find, because I want to know all about it.  How much it weighs, what it looks like, does it have teeth (ala steven king....)?!?!?!  Right???  Who wouldn't want to know??

This whole event has actually strengthened my faith in God, my faith in the knowledge that whatever happens, I'm in His hands.  It's been so comforting, and I am filled with peace.  In fact, for the past month, I've had this song in my head that I used to sing as a little girl in church:

I'm in His hands
I'm in His hands
Whatever the future holds
I'm in His hands
The things I cannot see
Have all been planned for me
His way is best, you see
I'm in His hands

So funny I haven't though about that song in probably 20 years and lately I've been humming it every day.  I know this isn't something I was expecting and it certainly wouldn't be on my list of life plans, but it's happening and I know that how ever it turns out, I will be okay.


I'll never have another period again.

Which leads me to this thought:

Maybe PMS isn't a thing, and I'm just this way...

I guess we'll find out.

On Monday morning, at about 11:15 if you're not doing anything please say a little prayer for me.  Pray that God will guide the hands of the surgeon (and that she picks super cute scrubs for the operation), that He will assist my body with pain management and healing, and that everything will turn out the way He has planned.


And the hospital better throw a rocking party, because it will be the third anniversary of my 35th birthday on Tuesday.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Hurry Up and Wait

Okay, so life has thrown me a few changes lately.  And I don't really like changes.

My baby is growing up.  He doesn't need me as much anymore - or maybe he still needs me, just in different ways.

My brother and his family moved to Ontario. I've been so blessed in my life to count my brother and my sister in law as two of my best friends.  And so them leaving leaves me feeling empty.  I know deep down that this is a good move for them but I feel like a piece of me moved along with them. They took my niece with them too, despite my offers to keep her and allow them to visit her whenever they wanted.

So I've spent the past couple of months trying to reinvent myself.

I'm not trying to *find* myself.  I already know who I am.  I think I've been trying to *change* myself.  Push myself way outside of the boundaries of who I am and push myself to be more extroverted.  Push myself to enjoy things that I don't really enjoy.  I mean, I thought that I should meet new people and get out there and do new things, like maybe joining Toastmasters or an acting club or a choir.  I joined *another* dating site.  I seriously considered moving.  I considered moving in with a friend and having home stay students.  I looked into adopting a dog.

(Well, the last one is totally me. I would love, love, love a dog.)

But then I realized that all that is not me.  At least not me right now.  Because why do I need public speaking skills?  Because I can't act.  Because I haven't sung in almost 20 years.  Because dating sites are so not my style.  Because there is nothing wrong with where I live *for now*.  Because I love my friend, but I don't have what it takes for home stay students.  Because with Q I'm not home enough for a dog.  It wouldn't be fair for the dog.

And I would NOT be happy doing all that NOT me stuff.

Where does that leave me?  Where does that leave me right now?


It leaves me waiting.


But here's the thing.  Waiting is not bad.  I know what has been placed on my heart.  I know that the waiting now is preparing me for the future when my time comes and then I will be ready.  The waiting now is for rest and reflection so I will be confident when when it is time to *be*.

Presidents are not allowed to be under 35 - but seriously look at the average age of the candidates running now.  Nelson Mandela spent 20 years in jail, resting, before he was voted in as the first leader of a democratic South Africa.  And because I love women and love to support their successes...Amelia Earhart was 40 when she took her fateful flight and made history.  Mother Theresa was 69 when she won the Nobel Peace Prize.  Sarah was 90 when she had Issac.

For now, I will take the time to rest.  I will read books.  I will write.  I will read some more.  I will go for walks.  I will laugh with friends.  I will get healthy.  I will watch Pee Wee hockey games and cheer for #12.  I will help with homework.  I will try to remember to go to PAC meetings (I forget every single 3rd Tuesday every single month).

Because I know that when my times comes, I will be busy.  I will be moving mountains and I will be taking names.  (okay, I may not be that influential...but who knows maybe I will).

I don't know yet what it is I will do...maybe I'll run for office (is that a thing in Canada??  It sounds way cooler than 'I will run for MP') and revolutionize politics by being the first honest leader who really wants to make things better for all classes, whether you're homeless or a billionaire.  Maybe I'll run a Fortune 500 company ( that a thing in Canada???  I should really read up on Canadian catchphrases if I'm going to be running the country.)  Maybe I'll be a famous author after writing an amazing novel that changes every one's life for the better.

Truly, truly what I hope for and pray for every single day is that God will use me to change lives of young people.  I pray that he will send me a partner who wants the same.  Every day I hope for a husband who's heart also waits for me and wants to foster/adopt as many children as we can.  I hope that we can show these children that they matter and they are important and they are capable of great things and they deserve to be loved greatly.  I hope that we can plant seeds in these young minds and hearts for whatever time we have them, so that one day when they are grown and alone and faced with two choices, they will choose the good because they remember they are worth the good.

I feel this calling every day.

Every day when I hear of mass shootings, I feel this calling.

Every day when I read of the teenager who overdosed on drugs, I feel this calling.

Every time I see someone begging on the street for spare change, I feel this calling.

So for now, I wait.

I rest.

And I prepare my heart for what's next.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Someone Turned Onety One (or eleven...for those of you who are normal...)

It seem as though this blog has kind of morphed into a once a year check-in / birthday letter to Q.  Truth be told, I've gone through a bit of a writer's block and life has just become a routine of work, hockey (for Q...def not me), school, sleep, eat and repeat.  No one wants to read about that on a blog.
But lately we've gone through a lot of changes - well, to be more specific, Q has gone through a lot of changes lately and my hope is that if I write about it, I might stop bursting into tears at random, inappropriate times.  (p.s. I am not a crier...)
See, my Q is growing up and the past few months have been both beautiful and devastating for me all at the same time. 
Q is eleven and for us, that means spending weeks away from home with the grandparents - all of them.  It means sitting in the front passenger seat of the car.  It means FLYING in an AIRPLANE all by himself.  It means staying home alone after school.  It means owning a cell phone (for safety while being home alone).
This is beautiful and exciting, because Q is doing exactly what he should be doing.  He's growing up.  He's following the path that many boys have walked before him on their way to becoming a man.  And who am I kidding?  We all know I'd probably be freaking out if he weren't meeting these milestones with such perfect timing and accuracy.  None of it has been forced either, my Q is eagerly jumping from milestone to milestone, barely stopping to take a breath.  And he's not just growing personally.  He's physically growing...and that makes my bank account cry. 
We've had so many great conversations lately.  He is such a smart insightful kid.  He's an old soul and some of the things he says actually make me think about the choices I am making in my life.  While he was in Calgary, we had some awesome text talks.  One day he asked what I was doing and I told him I was just watching a movie because all my friends were out of town and I had no one to go to the beach with. 
He texted, "Maybe it's time you made a few more friends."
And maybe he's right.
The past 11 years I have devoted my life to Q.  Where I live, where I work, is all because of Q. And I have willingly given most of my spare time to him - because it's just him and me, I've been blessed enough to have that time to give to him.  I've not really dated.  My hobbies are relatively fluid (as in, I can read in a hockey rink while he's practicing).  My friends are used to either Q coming with me, or me bailing at the last minute.
Q doesn't need me as much anymore. 
And I'm completely lost.
This is the sad thing for me.  I don't know who I am if I'm not *little* Q's mom.  I've loved being needed by him and the center of his little universe and it makes me so sad that his universe is getting bigger and bigger.  I have shed many a tear over this.  I am mourning the loss of my baby.  (geez, am I being like seriously overly dramatic?!?!?!)  I don't know if it's different for women who are married or who have more than one child - because they have a spouse or other children to distract them. 
But if every woman goes through this, I can completely understand why we have the reputation of being crazy emotional. 
Because if you pulled up beside me at the stop light yesterday, you would have wondered why that red light made me cry.
I'm super proud of my boy.  He's becoming such a great *person*, you know...not just a little boy, but a person.. 
I will leave you with one little story... While texting me on his trip to Calgary with the grand-parentals, he asked what I was doing.
me:  I'm watching 'Far From the Madding Crowd'.  It's about a woman who has 3 men who fall in love with her.
Q:  Weird
me:  Well, yes.  It's definitely not a movie you'd want to watch 
me:  Who doesn't want 3 men to fall in love with them?
Q:  Would you?
me: No.  Probably not.  It causes her many problems
Q:  Ya.  That's what I mean
me: Ha.  You're very smart
Q: Ya
(and yes, I use punctuation in texts..)