Monday, August 29, 2011

Summer with Gabrielle (a video)

As per our July 22 post, we've been doing our best to focus on all the good things this summer home with Gabrielle. While the cold, harsh realities sometimes creep into the forefront, the song in the video, and all sorts of other things, remind us that 
everything is the way it is
And everything is perfect in their imperfections
And everything is placed the best
And it is now, and it is here
And tomorrow is another now
Waiting to happen
While we're endeavouring to savour and save as many wonderful moments as we can through pictures and videos, things are always a little bit better when you share them. Enjoy.

To support a great band, download When It Flows, by the Great Lake Swimmers.  

Sunday, August 21, 2011

You ask "how do you do it?"

There are some days when I have so much hurt I don't know what to do with it.  Can I pack it up and put it away somewhere?  Can I hide it in my closet?  Can I wash it away and never see it again?  What do people do with it?  What do I do with it?

I have found some things that have helped me cope along the way.  Back in the winter, I really delved into humour and exercise.  I only watched funny tv shows and I read a few blogs that made me laugh out loud. I started reading super fluffy, funny romances and People or US magazines as escapes from reality.  I enjoyed watching and listening to anything that would help me to take my mind off of Gabrielle's, our  reality.  I love conversations that were about nothing and I could sit and listen to 'nothing'.  It made me wonder if that's what all those fluffy books and magazines were there for in the first place - to help people escape their current realities?

During transplant, I felt lots of anger, sadness, fear and exhaustion.  Living day to day was such a grind that it took every bit of energy to get through the day with Gabrielle and I saved whatever I had left for our boys at home.  I felt as though I was on a treadmill going forward, and I could only deal with 'predictable' events and if things were going in the same direction as I was, I could cope, but as soon as something came at me from the sideline, I would de-rail.

It's tough.  Today, I cope by putting the needs of myself and my family first.  Exercise still continues to be my therapy.  I am able to put every emotion into physically exhausting myself and pushing my boundaries.  It takes my mind off of everything and only lets me focus on the moment.  Exercise is the only coping strategy I have yet to come across that takes away all my grief, sadness, anger, fear and helps me to feel positive, strong, loving, and capable.

You know, it's not pretty.  You're probably reading this thinking "gee, thanks a lot, how depressing".  And when I read what other people have to talk about in Facebook or in their personal blogs, my reality can be very difficult to grapple with.  But, it's real.  I can't change it.  I can only cope the best way I know how.  And let me tell you, it's taken us on a journey I never could have imagined.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Does Adversity Make You Older?

The other day Amy had to remind me that we're just 34, turning 35 this fall. I was saying, "That's crazy because most days I feel like I'm 44."

One of the doctors at Children's hospital (a couple months back) was explaining (yes, we talked about some pretty random things) how the age-group oncology parents can often best relate to (and at certain levels, of course) are those in their 70 because it's not really until that age where mortality becomes a predominant thought. The never-ending "life line" of one's 20's and 30's becomes a very finite line by one's 70's.

And, she was saying, all the revelations, liberations, and frustrations that people often acquire at that age are acquired much earlier when you're raising a child with a not-so-good outlook.

And it can be quite difficult to relate to people your age when they haven't contemplated the same things you're being forced to contemplate.

All that resonated with me.

So why am I writing this?

Because last night I freaked out because last weekend my brother-in-law and I took the kids to an air show, and we were both laughing at how his movie-character alter-ego is Maverick (I forget who mine was). So last night I found a few seconds to see what movies the Top Gun babe might be starring in these days, and ... well ... I was expecting Kelly McGillis to look a little more like she did in Top Gun.

While I don't think the picture and physical aging has anything to do with what I'm talking about, I started freaking that maybe they go hand in hand!  If I feel 44 at 34, will I feel (and maybe look) 62 at 52 ... kind of like Kelly McGillis does? LOL.

Anyway, the real point is that I think some wonderful insights can come from facing the stone-cold reality that we're all going to die. I really think our culture sucks at thinking about death and the finiteness of life. I think doing so makes one want to do good things because the more you think about it the more you realize that much of what you think matters totally doesn't. From other people's opinions to certain stories on the news to you name it, things become much, much clearer.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

10 month milestone, sleepovers and haircuts

Happy 10 month birthday (yesterday) Gabrielle!  A snapshot of you at 10 months ...

  • You love your soother.  I could sit and stare at you for hours as you so eloquently maneuver your soother in and out of your mouth as you sleep.  What a source of comfort that little thing has been to you.
  • You love to talk and have just started making that noise with your tongue against the roof of your mouth
  • I love how you smile your big gummy smile when I pick you up our of your crib
  • You are still so calm.  You only fuss when you are hungry or exhausted, but still even then, you fuss so beautifully.
  • You are starting to roll from side to side to reach for toys.  You are getting stronger and when I hold you up with your feet on the ground, you are starting to bear weight on your legs.
  • You love your food - you don't eat too much but I love how you squish the food around in your mouth before swallowing.
  • You love music and you love being danced around the room with your dad.
  • You love sitting in your blue chair so you can watch all the action going on around you and you also love going for walks outside.
  • You love to 'wrestle' with your dad and squeal with delight when we play with you.

I cherish every single day with you Gabrielle.

On the same day that you turned 10 months, your brothers also had some excitement in their lives.

Your big brother James had his first sleepover at his Auntie and Uncle's house.  It wasn't as successful as you would have thought as Auntie Julie had to crawl into bed with him at 3 am.   He was so proud of himself the next morning thinking sleepovers aren't so bad as your mom comes in the middle of the night to sleep with you (ask his very groggy Auntie how it went, who to him, looked 'different' the next morning - gee I wonder why!).  I don't think we'll have a sleepover for a while...

James and his two cousins fast asleep

Your brother Michael finally got his haircut today and now looks like such a big boy:(  His hair was so long I could have put pig tails in his hair.  Getting his hair cut was no easy task.  I had to keep him pinned on my lap while they cut and I left the barber's covered in more hair then him.  He cried so much and zonkered himself out so much so, that he went to bed at 4pm.

A full moon, a calm, beautiful 10 month old girl, a big boy at his first sleepover and a tuckered out 2 year old in bed made for a lovely, and enjoyable evening on your 10 month birthday.

I love you my sweet Gabrielle.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Simple pleasures

It's been just over 2 weeks that we've been home and it has been so wonderful.  Whether we're sitting outside on the deck looking at the ocean, going for walks in our neighbourhood or frantically racing around cleaning the kitchen or having a shower while Gabrielle's napping, I continually give thanks to being at home with our sweet girl.  Two months ago we were in a very different space and I wasn't even sure whether we'd make it home or not.  But, she did it.  We did it.  And we couldn't be happier.

The last two weeks we haven't ventured very far.  In fact, a trip to the beach for ice cream or a trip to a friend's house has become our new exciting adventures.  Before Gabrielle, it didn't seem quite as special but our little girl has shown us the beauty and magic in these simple pleasures, and it is wonderful.

playing with dad's hands on the grass at the beach

eating ice cream for the first time

dinner time with my brothers and cousins!

Laughter #6 ~ Animal Hijackers

I haven't added a Laughter Post in a while.

The other day Amy and I were at the beach with the boys and Gabrielle for fish and chips (pictures coming). As we walked along with our food, looking for a spot to eat, we couldn't help but laugh at the beach newbies who thought nothing of giving a bit of food to "just one" seagull. We knew to keep walking before it happened, and I don't know how the legion of seagulls know when it's time to charge (like is there a seagull in the sky with a bugle or something?), but by the time we had found our spot a good ways aways, we could see that the couple's one chip (to one seagull) had totally changed their wonderful dinner at the beach from a night of sunset soaking and conversation, to seagull feeding and food protecting. We laughed from a distance. Rookies.

But this video of South African highways takes animal hijacking to a whole new level, and if you think it's staged, I embedded some other clips of the highway robbers in action:


The best is when the guys says, "Dude!" in this one:

I love when she says "This is not happening!" in this one:

... and then the horror in her voice when she realizes the pizza's gone.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

You Know What You Know (And That's It)!

I wish everyone understood this simple fact a little better than they do:
You only know what you know, and that's it!
You can't get mad at someone for not knowing something. Sure you can get annoyed, but (I think) you're wasting your time for holding a grudge.

If you only know what you know, how can you possibly know what you don't know?

I know, it's a bit of a mind-bender, but re-read that question:

If you only know what you know, how can you possibly know what you don't know?

Sure you can learn what you don't know, but until you do (which means someone – or some thing – is going to have to teach or show or enlighten you) ... you won't know what you don't know.

Sometimes I think we take what we know for granted.

Sometimes I think we take our experiences for granted.

Sometimes I think we take our awarenesses for granted.

Sometimes I think we forget that certain circumstances usually have usually preceded all of our big understandings. You know, those really big and important insights and awarenesses we develop. The ones that we're left with after an 'a ha' moment. And I think we wrongfully (or foolishly) become frustrated with people because we assume they have attained the same insights and awarenesses ... we assume they've had the same 'a ha' moments ... and that's silly because ... well ... often they haven't!

So how could anyone know what we know if they haven't experienced what we have experienced and interpreted that experience in exactly the same way?

The fact is, though, that most people do expect others to know things they don't know. Most people expect others to know what they – themselves – have come to understand ... especially about life and relationships. And the result is often continual frustration with people for no good reason.

You know what you know, and that's it!

As I mentioned before, since Gabrielle's come into our lives, we've had many people share with us, in the most wonderful and sympathetic way, "I don't know how you guys do it." And while it creates a slightly awkward situation, (Like do you really want to know? Are you just saying that because you're lost for words?), there's really nothing more honest and true someone could say.

You know what you know.

The cool thing is, though, we can continue to learn and grow. We can – with effort, an open-mind, and the courage to step outside our comfort zones – come to know more.

And more and more and more.