The Hardest Conversation

This is long so please bare with me!

Seeing all the posts about Cameron Boyce conjured up a lot of emotions, maybe because I knew Meg would be seeing it too and now she’d be exposed to some of the ugly truths that were out there and associated with epilepsy. It made me reflect a lot on our own journey and how things have evolved and changed as she’s gotten older.

When I opened my phone and read the news I froze. It hit me like a punch in the gut! My heart began to ache as it often does when I see these tragedies in some of the groups I’m in and when I think about how some of the foundations like Danny Did and Chelsea Hutchinson came to be.

I wondered how Meg would react to the news? When she was little it was easier to shield her and keep everything happy and positive, but now she’s almost 17, the information is out there, and she was going to see it!

We live in a social media culture where a smorgasbord of information is available at our fingertips. The internet is unedited, its raw and it can be pretty harsh. News like Cameron Boyce’s death is often splashed all over the internet in mass amounts without any thought for who might be reading it. People make assumptions without facts and lose filters they’d normally have in person. Emotions run high and it can be overwhelming.

I’m not speaking sanctimoniously, it’s been a learning moment for me too, I’ll admit I’ve participated in this culture. We see a post and are quick to post our fears not thinking who might be on the receiving end. At the same time the good parts of social media aren’t lost on me as I know the power and global reach of social media when it comes to raising awareness. A double edged sword I guess?!

When Meg was little we advocated hard, I was fiercely protective and unapologetic for it. We were in and out of hospitals, and I wanted to protect her in any and every way I could. I wanted to learn everything and put all that information out there, because in my mind the more people knew about epilepsy the safer she was. I took a lot of flack from moms who said a lot of hurtful things and gave very critical, unsolicited advice. I was often written off as hypersensitive or as a “helicopter mom” that one was used a lot! The truth is, most of the time, I really just needed friends. It can be a difficult journey and as parents we beat ourselves up plenty, wondering if we’ve made the right decision on the meds, the procedures, the doctors, the hospitals, the care, etc… If you really want to help someone be a friend, be inclusive and don’t judge, but I digress!

We made some unbelievably supportive friends online (one of the most positive parts of social media for us) and we even got to meet a few of them when we ventured to D.C. to participate in the National walk for Epilepsy, but as Meg got older and as kids became assholes (like they do in middle and high school) Meg decided she wanted to be a bit more private and I respected her wishes.

When we told Meg about Cameron she thought it was a hoax, but we told her his family had confirmed and we saw her mind start to churn. She’s been a huge fan of Cameron since he was on Jessie and most recently as Carlos in Descendants. We knew throughout the day she would be bombarded with all the posts and comments. She was going to have questions!

“Mom he died from a seizure!”

I thought carefully about how to respond.

I explained that a seizure doesn’t always mean epilepsy. There are many addictions and other disorders that can result in seizures and told her we shouldn’t assume anything.

A few days later it was confirmed that Cameron did, in fact, have epilepsy. We talked about how there are many different types of epilepsy, the importance of taking meds and safety. We discussed how we wish we’d known Cameron was epileptic and I explained that while some people choose to use their fame as a platform to raise awareness others like their privacy.

We continued to have little chats here and there, but as the articles seemed to quiet so did Meg’s questions and up until today she seemed okay with it all!

Today was hard!

Meg saw a post from one of Cameron’s co-stars in Descendants. Apparently Descendants 3 comes out tomorrow and the co-star has posted a tribute.

“Mom Cameron had epilepsy and he died from a seizure…” she paused and rubbed her face. I could tell she wanted to ask me something, but was struggling.

“It’s okay baby you can tell me what your thinking.”

“I just don’t know how to say it!”

I knew what she wanted to say, I had been dreading this moment.

I took a deep breath and said you’re wondering because Cameron had epilepsy and he died from a seizure if the the same could happen to you?

She looked at me like I’d lifted a huge weight off of her and hugged me really tight!

“He was 20 mom!”

I’ve always been honest with her and as hard as I knew it was going to be I had to finally tell her about SUDEP (sudden unexplained death in epilepsy). I explained that it was rare and just because this had happened to Cameron didn’t mean it would happen to her. We don’t know everything that led up to Cameron’s death, if he’d missed his meds, if he’d been drinking, etc… we talked again about the the different types of epilepsy, the importance of taking meds and keeping your doctor informed of changes. I told her how all disorders have risks from diabetes to heart disorders. Her eyes welled up…

“There are days I don’t mind being epileptic and there are days I hate it, today I hate it!”

My throat tightened!

“I know! I wish so much I could take it from you, but this is one thing I can’t fix baby I’m so sorry!”

I could feel my eyes starting to well up too.

We both hugged each other and cried. In that moment I just wanted to take it all away, all her pain and all her fear. I don’t know if I handled it well? How do you handle such a hard question? So I did the only thing I could in that moment…

“Oh my goodness, Meg your crying and I’m crying and it’s raining, we’re a hot mess!”

She threw her head back and laughed glad, I think, that I’d injected a little humor into the conversation. She looked at her watch.

“Why are you looking at your watch?”

Meg smiled at me through her tears.

“I was just thinking it would be funny if daddy walked in right now!”

“Oh my gosh, right!”

We hugged some more and Meg grabbed her phone. I was glad we were able to laugh a little and she seemed content with everything we’d talked about.

“I love you Mommy!”

“I love you too!”

We snuggled and watched some videos together and while it had been a difficult moment my heart swelled with pride at how well she handled everything.

Inner Demons

Anxiety, the quiet demon in my life which keeps my body in perpetual fear.  It’s the uneasy feeling in your chest, the lack of strength in your legs, the nausea in your stomach, the lack of confidence, the tightness in your throat as you choke back tears and the fear of judgement!

Anxiety is a daily struggle.

Anxiety isolates you.

Anxiety makes you question your abilities.

Anxiety makes you weak.

Anxiety is a confidence killer.

Anxiety is fear of the unknown.

Anxiety is lack of control.

Anxiety is hell.

I will not let anxiety define me.

For every step backwards I will push forward two.

Failure is okay because failure is where success begins.

Every day is a gift and a chance to start over.

Strength comes from within.

Love and respect are earned.

I am a survivor!

 

A Domestic Dream and a Clogged Disposal

I learned a lesson yesterday in regards to my garbage disposal… DO NOT put angel hair pasta in it!!!

Yesterday was a half day and so I went to pick up my girl and I had a plan.  I thought we could do a little shop around Target, get some food for dinner and still have time to do homework, clean house and get to youth group!

Oh Kirsten you silly, silly domestic dreamer!

The shopping part of the plan we managed no problem!  When we got to the house to complete the rest of my plan I was feeling pretty confident, we had plenty of time, and I even took a little time to give myself a high-five.

Meg got stuck into her history homework and I started cleaning so I could get things prepped for dinner.  As I got closer to the kitchen a smell hit my nose… Blah! What in the world? Was it the garbage? Nope! The garbage had been taken out that morning.  Where in the world is it coming from?  Not the trash, disposal is empty… It had to be something in the refrigerator!

I opened the door to the fridge only to quickly scrunch up my nose as the smell got a little stronger. Yup! The culprit is in here somewhere!  I started fumbling through the left overs to see which plastic container  had past its prime.  There were three… don’t judge!

I headed over to the garbage disposal to get rid of the soft stuff… that’s my rational for things that can go down the disposal.  Is it soft?  Is it small-ish? Will it jam it?  Well, I was about to be opened up to whole new world of garbage disposal etiquette the hard way.

I started with a small container of something that looked like beef stew, although I don’t remember making any, it went down in a shot, no issues there.  Next I started separating a Ziploc bag sized amount of angel hair pasta and started feeding it into the disposal.  It sounded great at first, the sound of food grinding (insert vocal imitation here) and then a it made a sound I hadn’t heard before like the whirring without the grinding and the water started to fill the sink, a lovely soupy broth that looked abd smelled like a mixture of the two containers I’d tried to empty.

What the…?

I turned the disposal off and put my hand in to feel for anything that might have gotten stuck.  Not a fan of putting my hand in the disposal as it always makes me think of horror movies, but I digress… Nothing! I grabbed the plunger and began working on the sink. For an hour and a half I plunged, emptied and refilled the sink. Did I mention to empty it I had to use a cup, a ladle and then toss it out in the back yard? Not fun and it wasn’t budging!

Finally, I turned to facebook to ask for help!  Two of my friends made me giggle when they suggested I call a SCUBA Gerbil or move house.  Another friend suggested a wire coat hanger, which lead to the ear worm “No more wire hangers!”  Thanks Mommy Dearest!  My husband’s friend suggested I call Erich!  Pfft… I can solve this!  My friend Krystal suggested baking soda and vinegar…  Let me just say on a normal clog I bet this idea is amazing.  However, when I tried it on my clog the pressure was so great I could barely keep the plug in and it was spewing out a volcanic science experiment all over the sink. Another hour passed and I was done.  You win garbage disposal!  I couldn’t get the thing to shift.

I moved on to making dinner and cleaning what I could without the use of my sink, all while grumbling and moaning to myself.  I finished prepping dinner and answered some questions about glacier tills and the Seven Year’s Wars and finally my husband walked through the door.  I explained what I did with many hand gestures and then watched him try the same techniques again to no avail.  Finally he took the pipes apart and… well… that Ziploc bag full of pasta might have been a bit more than I initially thought as it had clogged a good portion of the drain pipe.  Hubby tried to give me a little lecture, but I was so over the whole thing I wasn’t about to hear it.

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Later that evening I googled what not to put down your garbage disposal and to my surprise there was quite a lengthy list and I violate a good 90% of it.  I mean why can’t you put coffee grounds or egg shells down your disposal? I’ve been doing it for ages.  This list is so long it’s almost not worth having a garbage disposal! Anyway, I guess the moral of this story is, unless you’re married to a plumber, be careful what you put down your garbage disposal. Till next time…

A Field Trip and a Momma Melt Down

I’ve spent her whole life protecting her! I’ve nursed every cold, sat by her side and curled up with her in hospital rooms. I’ve encouraged her when she felt nervous or shy and watched her exceed the limits people have put on her.  I’ve raised her to be kind, respectful, loving and She’s a great kid, with a good heart.   Now she’s getting older and I’m having such a hard time with letting go.  She’s ready for the independence and I know I have to give it to her, but nobody told me it would be so damn hard!

Today she went on her first big field trip, at her new school, without Erich or myself.  I knew she was a little bit nervous, but excited and I didn’t want her to see my anxiety.  We got dressed and she ate a little breakfast.  I brushed her hair and helped her put it up into a ponytail. We talked about the rules and before I knew it she was out the door and on her way to school.

The door closed and I could feel my nerves churning.  My anxiety began to rise and fall like a rollercoaster and I couldn’t breath.  My tear ducts and gag reflexes unleashed on me like a tidal wave.  I was in a full-blown panic attack.  Funnily enough, my head and thoughts were clear… I know she can do this, I need to let her do this, she’s fine, you’re fine, etc… but my body was unleashing all the physical challenges that makes an anxiety attack the unpleasant experience it is.

I knew I couldn’t go into work like this… The tears were rolling down my face, I was an emotional wreck to say the least.  So I called work to let them know I’d be late and headed over to see the one person I knew would get it, the one person who has seen me through all my ups and downs,  someone who has been through it all with me and my three siblings, my mum.

I walked into her house and she could tell right away something wasn’t right.  She looked concerned as she rose to greet me and asked what was wrong?  I unloaded on her and a big smile spread across her face as she opened her arms and said “now you know how I felt those years you were in Italy!”  When I was little my father had taken me for what was supposed to be a two-week vacation, but  ended up being a two-year custody battle for my mum, a story for another time.  She gave me the biggest of hugs and made me giggle cry.  She made me a cup of tea, we talked about everything, she told me about experiences she’d had raising us and we laughed and cried together.  After a few more hugs  I was ready to head to work.

One of the many great thing about Meg’s new school is they kept me updated all day through text messages and even sent me a few pictures.  They told me I could call anytime to check on her, which gives a mom like me such comfort.  I’m please to say I didn’t call, but I did respond to a few texts they sent me.


I couldn’t wait to pick Meg up and hear all about her day and how much fun she had. She was excited to show me the prank snake she purchased with her tickets she won playing video games.  She especially liked a simulation snowboarding game and my heart swelled with joy when she told me she liked being independent, but would like to go back again with her daddy and I to try the bumper boats.  She’s gaining her independence, but she’s still my little girl and I think I will hold onto that for a little while longer. Till next time…

PS If you’re a mom who sometimes finds it hard to let go, don’t appologize for it.  It’s normal and sometimes it’s harder when your child has a disorder they deal with.  I can tell you Epilepsy has been a long hard road for us, with lots of ups and downs.  As long as you recognize and give them the independence they crave and you prepare them for the real world you’re doing a great job! x

Letting Go Is So Hard

This past Saturday we decided we were going to head out to our favorite corn maze, Sweet Fields Farms.  The weather was beautiful, a welcome change from the life sucking heat and humidity we’re used to. We were getting ready to walk out the door when our friends called to let us know the wait to get in was two hours! I’m not gonna lie, I  was a little disappointed, but we were happy they were doing so well.

Not to be discouraged, we heard about another little farm not to far from Sweet fields and we decided to give it a try. When we arrived at the Farm there were quite a few cars, but it didn’t look to crowded.  The layout of the farm was really nice albeit a little smaller.  We found a spot at some picnic tables nestled beneath a few large oak trees and it wasn’t long before Meg asked if she could go into the corn maze with her friends.

  

My stomach dropped as I tried to come up with excuses as to why she should wait, but  I could see in her eyes she really wanted to go!  Her body language was screaming please let me be independent and after laying down a few rules and making sure she and her friends had their phones I agreed to let her go.  She squealed with excitement and disappeared into the maze leaving me to ponder my worst fears…

What if she has a seizure?  What if someone tries to take her?  Stop! She’ll be fine! You need to let her do this!  My hubby had gone to get food and was unaware of the huge step I’d just taken. So I sent him a quick text message to let him know I’d given our daughter a taste of freedom. To which he replied “Okay!”

I’m sure our friends were talking to me at this point, but I couldn’t tell you a word they said. I could feel my anxiety starting to kick in and the helicopter mom in me wanted to jump up and run into the maze after her.  All the what ifs had kidnapped my concentration and were attacking my rational thought process.

About this time my hubby arrived with the food and I nervously devoured a really good fish taco.  It’s funny how time works in situations like this, the minutes seem to drag on for hours.  I looked at Erich and he knew my mind was ready to explode.

Then it happened… I saw her! I saw this big, radiantly independent smile on her face and all my crazy thoughts and fears were replaced with a sweet, warm and fuzzy feeling. It was validation! I’d made the right choice! She was walking in my direction, full of joy, scanning the area trying to remember what table we were sitting at.  I jumped up, smiled and waved like a lunatic. She saw me and ran over, all excited, to tell me all about her corn maze adventure and I absorbed every word.

After that I relaxed a little and asked Meg if she wanted to take a few pictures with me and head over to the petting zoo.  It made me happy when she belted out her usual “Sure!”

The petting zoo was small and the animals were charming.  We were able to pet goats, pot bellied pigs, rabbits, fluffy looking chickens and a super friendly llama.  I basked in her delight and we wandered out to some of the other photo op and game areas the farm had set up.  Meg held her own at tug-a-war and posed with a skeleton.  We even went back into the maze.  All in all it was a great day!

You hear people say don’t blink they grow up so fast and now I know exactly what they mean. When she was little I couldn’t wait for her to do and try new things, now I just want her to slow down and time to stop. I’ll leave you with this song till next time…

Expired Tags, A Frisk, and A Screwdriver

A few days ago, on my way to work, I noticed a police car following close behind me.  Now usually I move over because, it’s been my experience, if you’re not speeding and you have your seat belt on they want you to move over so they can pass through and why would today be any different? I’m all good right?

Wrong!

The police car moves over with me, his car still close behind mine.  I get that sinking feeling, you know the one where you know you’re about to be pulled over and in one last ditch effort I change back to my original lane to see if the move over was coincidental and his lights go on! Crap! I drive a little further to a safe spot where I can pull over, pop the car in park, roll my window down and wait…

“Good morning sir!”  I say as I hear him tap on my car and appear at my window, but slightly behind me.  In the rear view I notice he has tattoos up his right arm, it’s not relevant, but I notice all the same.

“Ma’am did you know your tag is expired?”

“No it isn’t!” I say without thinking.  It can’t be I just bought this car a little over a year ago, we keep everything up to date.

“Its eight months expired!”

I must’ve looked like a deer in head lights as I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about? My hubby takes care of all of that, he wouldn’t let it expire.

“Do you have your registration?”

“Yes! I mean I should… Do you mind if I open the glove box and check?”

He doesn’t mind, so I use pincher fingers to shuffle through the paper in my glove box, but I can’t find it?

“It’s not in here? Do you mind if I check my purse?”

At this point I want to let him know exactly what I’m doing, I’ve seen the news and I don’t want to become a statistic! He’s very nice and doesn’t have a problem with me rummaging through my purse.

I forgot to mention… I had asked to call my husband so he could assist me in finding my non-existent registration and he’s on the car speaker phone while I’m going through all these exercises.

Finally, I ask the officer if I can look in the armrest for my registration?

“Do you have any weapons?”

My mind flashes to the little hammer I have in the armrest.  I have it so I can break a window in the car if I ever need to and it has a few other useful gadgets on it. I feel myself get a little nervous.

” well, I have…” the officer takes a step back and puts his hand to his side.

“… no,no, no it’s a little hammer!” I can’t get the words out fast enough.

“I use it to break windows!”

That’s just great Kirsten, you sound like you’ve just confessed to breaking and entering! My left hand is up and the other is gently opening the arm rest for him to see and I’m relieved he relaxes. Again, I use pincher fingers to take it out and again no registration.

“The thing is ma’am there isn’t a decal on your tag!”

At this point my husband chimes in…

“Yeah the dealer sent the tag without the decal… I was waiting for them to send us the sticker.”

I blurt out “For eight months?”

I’m thinking I just went through all of that and he knew I had no decal, which pretty much means no registration! By now the officer is pretty sure I had no clue I was driving around with an expired tag.

“Are you on your way to work?”

“Yes!”

“Where do you work?”

I tell the officer I work at the local high school and he goes on to tell me he doesn’t like to give teachers tickets and I’m not about to tell him I’m not one and instead thank him kindly.

“Just so you’re aware ma’am, driving around without a decal is a misdemeanor and it’s an arrestable offense!”

Oh my god I’m a felon!

“Really? Don’t tell me that I’ll cry! I honestly didn’t know!”

He tells me he’s giving me the benefit of the doubt, but tells me I need to go to the courthouse to get it taken care of today.  He also tells me if Florida Highway Patrol pulled me over they could arrest me.

“Thank you officer! I will call my work and go right this minute.”

He nods and I’m allowed to leave.  He follows me most of the way to the court house and I make a call to let my work know I’m a felon and I’m gonna be late.  Oh wait… there’s more!

I arrive at the court house and walk in to what looks like an airport with the metal detector and the conveyor, scanny, thingamajig you put your purse on and I briefly think to myself oh how times have changed. I walk up and place my purse and keys on the conveyor and walk through the metal detector.

BEEP

Seriously? I don’t have anything on me. I smile at the guy and walk over to him to get scanned. He runs the wand over me, gets to the front of my pants and it beeps.  I look down and lift my shirt a little. I explain that my pants have a little clasp and a zipper and he says those wouldn’t be strong enough to set it off.

“I can unbutton my pants if you’d like me to, I’m wearing granny panties, but I’m pretty sure they didn’t set it off!”

He’s not really amused,bu he’s satisfied I’m not brandishing any weapons on me.  I go to get my purse and there’s a problem. For gods sake what now?

“I need you to take your keys out of your purse!”

“Okay!”

I take them out and lo and behold they’re just keys!

“Nope that’s not it!”

“What do you see? What are you looking for?”

He asks if I carry any small weapons about 4-5 inches long? I tell him no, but he’s welcome to search my purse. He says for me to look through my purse and I’m like okay, but I told you I don’t have… my hand hits something cold and long in my purse and I think what in the… oh snapdragons! I start to smile…

“Um… I just remembered my daughter was eating a yogurt in the car last night…”

I start pulling the object out of my purse and my mind reverts to the 1990’s movie Robinhood where Allan Rickman, the sheriff, talks about using a spoon to cut out Kevin Costner who plays Robin Hood’s heart “because it’ll hurt more!” But I digress…

“… I put the spoon in my purse meaning to take it inside the house, but forgot. I’m sorry!”

Much to his and my relief he didn’t feel you could do much harm with a spoon.  I mean, I guess he could’ve thought I used the spoon for recreational drugs, but sorry dude all I get is mommy street cred with this spoon!

“Do you carry an aerosol? Pepper spray?”

“No!”

“Can you check?”

Why not? I look and can’t find anything, we talk about what could be and finally realize it’s my inhaler!

“You’re all good!”

Thank god for that! So I walk to the counter and ask the nice lady where I go to get my registration. She politely pounts and says you go out the door, through the courtyard, and into the next building.

Seriously? If there’s another metal detector I’m going to scream and throw an epic tantrum. I lucked out, no scanning devices whatsoever. I don’t know if that’s good for the folks working in that particular building, but again I digress…  I pay my fees and now my tag is good till 2018.

Finally, on my way home I run over a screwdriver that flips up and sticks in the undercarriage of my car by the passenger door! I think it’s in the axle area until a nice man at Meg’s school notices it and offers to pull it out.

   

It was quite a day to say the least, but I’m glad to say I’m no longer a felon and my car is fine! However, I do now have two weapons in my car, three if you count the spoon and I’m keeping that mommy street cred! Till next time…

I’ve Missed You

What a lovely facebook post I was tagged in yesterday by the lovely Tara Cain over at Sticky Fingers.  It really brought me back to the time when blogging was fun, less competitive and we were just moms with with kids looking for ways to connect with each other, to laugh and cry about all the wonderful and sometimes painful things happening in our day to day lives. Don’t get me wrong I’m not knocking the bloggers who have monetized their blogs, more power to you, I just miss the simplicity of it all.

Nickie from Typecast struck a chord when she said it can still be that, you just have to not care about everything else and just blog.  Thank you Nickie!

So… this morning I got up, grabbed my grumpy mug, my generic kuerig… It’s a HamiltonBeach, but it has Hamilton in the title, that has to count for something, right?  I digress… Where was I? Oh yes! My Natural bliss pumpkin pie creamer, and I decided I was going to say I MISSED YOU!

I don’t know if you missed me, but I really miss the late night writing and waking up to find all the lovely comments of support, making friendships, many of which I still have on facebook.  I find myself smiling and my heart swelling when I see how much our kids have grown and how lovely they all are.  I miss the laughs, the humor and most of all I miss the relief of knowing there were and are moms out there who were just like me!

So what have we been up to these last few years?  Well, I went back to work and I’m currently employed in a high school.  I’m not a teacher, but don’t tell the officer who pulled me over yesterday because he thought I was and decided not to give me a ticket for that reason… I’ll save that story for tomorrow! My husband is still an insurance adjuster, but recently changed companies. Meg is growing up far to quickly and is, as always, my hero!  Daisy our fabulous dog is getting older and likes to hide in the bathroom when storms come, peeking her head out from behind the shower curtain like the nosey neighbor does from behind the blinds.  Finally, we have a new addition to the family… Dave The Diva, our chubby little hamster, who likes to keep me up at night with his squeaky wheel!  I might have to do a blog post about the things you don’t think about when you’re sucked into buying that adorable, fluffy, little rodent!

I know I’ve said it before, reference my last few posts, but I think I’m back! Yep! I think I’m going to give the blogging thingy a go again!  I’m not going to self host or worry about stats and  I might drive Nickie crazy with my poor grammar, but if you’re interested in watching how I slide through life one banana peel at a time (did you like that little nod to my tag line? Yes I’m that corny!) I would love to follow you and if you would like me to follow you put your link in the comments and till next time…

Disclaimer: I was not paid for nor asked to endorse the products in the crappy picture above… you’re welcome Disney, HamiltonBeach, and Natural Bliss!

PS. Thanks Tara for the look back and the reminder of why I loved blogging. *kisses*

PPS. Wow… my blog needs a little dusting!  I may have to give it a face lift!