Friday, January 31, 2014

Portland, Take 2

Did you miss us the past couple days? Yes, you did didn't you. That's the correct answer anyway.

Well, we've been M.I.A. because we took our second trip to visit Shriner's hospital in Portland. What an epic adventure. It went a little something like this:

Wednesday
0745 - Leave the house.
0830 - Arrive at the ferry. Park. Pay a ridiculous amount for parking. But tickets. Pay an even more ridiculous amount for those. Walk on.
0900 - Hello BC Ferries!
1045 - Get picked up at the ferry by the Shriner's bus. Drive. Pick some more people up. Drive some more.
1200 - Stop at the border. Endure full body cavity searches (kidding!)
1215 - Enter the US of A. Drive.
1315 - Stop for lunch. Then drive. Drive. Drive.
1745 - Arrive at Portland hotel.
1800 - Go for dinner.
1900 - Re-up with snacks.
2000 - Start bedtime with hyper kids in a small hotel room.
2200 - Move beds. Try to get one kid in particular to sleep.
2230 - Success. Zzzzz.

Thursday
0600 - Wake up and get everyone ready and packed up.
0630 - Go for breakfast and get serious attitude from the waitress.
0700 - Board the shuttle to the hospital.
0740 - Arrive and sign in.
0750 - See doctor.
0850 - Jam breakfast in mouths (taken "to go" because of said attitude-y waitress).
0900 - See PT and OT
1030 - Board the shuttle back to the hotel.
1100 - Arrive back at hotel and wait for one more family to finish their appointment.
1130 - Back on the bus headed for home. Drive.
1230 - Stop for lunch. Third McDonalds meal in 2 days but who's counting?
1300 - Back on the bus then drive. Drive. Drive.
1700 - Welcome back to Canada. Most painless border inspection of our lives.
1720 - Wait at BC Ferries. Wait. Wait.
1900 - Get on the ferry only to find out we are on the new ferry with no buffet. Have tantrum.
2045 - Arrive back on the island. Get in freezing cold car with three crying kids. (Can you say EXHAUSTED?!)
2130 - Arrive home and throw kids in bed with dirty teeth. No judgment.
2230 - Zzzzz.

That about sums it up. Of course seeing the doctor, OT, and PT were the important part, but we have a lot to process (all good, just a lot of information to take in) so a post will come on that later. I will tell you it was another worthwhile trip full of supportive, knowledgable health care professionals and we're looking forward to doing it all again in 6 months (By car! Paired with a vacation!)

I will leave you with some photos of the Shriner's bus, or "care cruiser". What an amazing service that we will certainly use again on trips that need to be more rushed. Talk about a luxurious bus ride! Anyway, those are the ONLY photos we took, since that's where we spent the majority of the trip.







Monday, January 27, 2014

Registered

As of 8:30 this morning, the boys are registered for kindergarten. I feel ill on about a million levels.

Good thing I didn't have much mental capacity to think about what the registration actually means, because I was too worried about the logistics of getting them registered. In other words, how was I going to get all three kids out of the house on time to line up for registration and ensure they have a spot in our neighborhood school!?!

The deed is done. A couple forms filled out, a couple proofs of identity photocopied. And like that my babies are going to school.

Look at us, do we look ready to you?!?


Those sick, frail babies are who I imagine sending off to the real world. I know that is not the case. I know two big, strong superheroes are who's excitedly waiting for "the big school". I just wish I was as excited as they are.




Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tales From the Vault - A Guest Blog by Kerry

Tales from the Vault is a feature where I bring back some of my favourite posts from the archived blog. All text from the original posts has been left completely unedited; however, where I think context is required it's been added.



To buy myself some more time picking through my favorite old posts, I decided to cheat again for my second installment of this feature and pick a guest blog. Because I really do love this post and was extra sad to have to delete it. So here you have it, no other context required because it's just so good. Welcome (again), Kerry from Transcending CP:

Kerry - age 3

I remember when I first realized that I was different.

I was three years old, doing exercises with my physical therapist while my brothers chased each other, blissfully unaware of cerebral palsy and the struggles that I faced.

As their laughter danced in the air, I turned to my therapist and asked, "Why are you making me do this?"

Her answer pierced me a like a knife and reduced me to tears: "Because you can't run."

~

I wish that I could speak to my devastated three-year-old self somehow...because yes, my therapist was right — my CP did rob me of the ability to run — but she failed to realize that oftentimes our greatest challenges are also our greatest teachers.

My CP has taught me that we are so much more than our bodies. Some people look at me and all they see is a stumble, a clumsy gait. They stare, then avert their eyes suddenly, and I see the pity flash in their eyes.

Truly, though, I pity them because they don't see the real me, the girl with fierce determination, a quiet sense of humor, and a deep desire to make the world a better place.

~

CP has also shown me that humanity on the whole is beautiful.

I saw this in my fourth grade classmates when we were jumping rope in physical education class. I can't really jump, so I was about to sit against the wall to watch.

That's when someone took my hand and showed me that they could swing the rope low enough so that I could step over it. Just like that, swinging the rope slowly and deliberately, they counted my steps.

To them, my differences made no difference.

~

And so what I wish I could tell my three-year-old self, what I'd like to say to anyone new to the world of CP, is this:

There will be days when you'll want to fall to your knees and cry, days when you will want to shout, "Why me?," days when you will wish that you could just shut your eyes and pray away all of the heartache that comes with disability.

And yet somehow you will see that there is beauty within that heartache. You will find yourself celebrating bits of life that other people take for granted. Most of all, though, with your eyes unclouded by pity, you will discover that life — not in spite of CP, but with CP — is nothing short of incredible.

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Photo Analysis

Earlier in December, after our dear Kev departed us, I started going through all of our old photos to find every picture we had of Kevin and make the family a surprise photo book (Feel free to say "awwww" or "ewwww" depending on whether you think that is cute or weird. I personally think it's a bit of both).

Most of the photos we actively look at are on our computer; however, Jordan and I have been together since the dawn of time - also known as "before there were such things as digital cameras". I know. We're that old.

I found a couple of really great photos in albums, but this one jumped out at me most. So much so that I'm going to show it to you and then analyze it. In great detail. Just because I can.


This photo is old, but we're not sure exactly how old. Jordan remembered it was from a photo shoot he did of my sister's family. My nephew (now almost 13) was young, but old enough to run around with a hockey stick. Since I don't remember a time before he ran around with a hockey stick, I'm going to say he's about 2 1/2, making this photo about ten years old. At the time it was taken I never really loved it. Jordan and I were a couple with no kids, so there were lots of good photos of us. But fast forward ten years when kids steal all the thunder, and I can't remember when we last had a photo together that we liked. Our wedding?

Today, looking back on this photo, I love it for many reasons. Here are a few of them, plus a couple of random facts thrown in:
  1. We look young. I won't deny that this is the number one reason I love this photo. LOOK HOW YOUNG I LOOK! Yes, I know it's because I actually AM young in it - but why didn't I appreciate my youthful appearance when I actually had it?! 
  2. That really nice smile is of Jordan's real front teeth, which he no longer has. Long story but no, he didn't get them knocked out in a fight, and no they weren't rotten. 
  3. I am wearing two earrings in each ear. Jordan is wearing one earring in each ear. Neither of those things has happened in years.
  4. We both still have, and regularly wear, the jackets in this picture. I think Jordan might actually still have, and sometimes wear, that collared shirt too.
  5. My hair is perfect. And I don't mean perfect in the traditional sense, I mean perfect as it pertains to my specific head of hair. ZERO FRIZZ. How did that happen? That never happens. Sure, it's obviously been flat ironed but even still, I never get away without a halo of frizzies escaping. I must be in some vortex of negative humidity in the exact moment that photo was taken. 
  6. I think my nose has grown since then. They say your nose continues to grow your entire life and I believe this photo is evidence of that. I don't think my nose looks like that now. Jordan's nose on the other hand, is as small as ever.
  7. We both look quite photogenic. I don't know what's happened over the years, but either, or both of us, is Chandler Bing in pretty much every picture we take. Hence why we haven't liked a photo of ourselves in ages.
  8. I look young. Have I mentioned that yet?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Severed Ties

It's like an unwritten rule that when you move out of the house and into your first place, your brand new (to you - likely very, very old and crappy to everyone else) home includes the following:
  • A futon - preferably one that is nice and lumpy;
  • Unfinished wood shelving that may or may not include cinder blocks as spacers;
  • Something wicker;
  • An Ansel Adams poster (framed if you were really fancy);
  • A mexican blanket;
  • Mismatched cutlery; and last but not least
  • A ficus plant - or to the layperson - a fig tree
It's like a uniform of sorts, but for your house. I am sure that every single one of my friends had a fig tree during my time in university, and likely for years after. Like me. And this tree. 



This tree is not even my original fig tree - this was the second in my collection. For many years I had two - how did I get so lucky? The first one died about ten years ago, after spontaneously losing all its leaves. But this one, I inherited from a roommate who suddenly got a job transfer out of town and didn't want to bring this bad boy with her. That was 1998. I wish I was joking that I have had this tree for 16 years.

This tree has lived in - wait, let me count - eight homes with me since then. It has moved up at least two pot sizes. It has been trimmed, pruned, watered, ignored, and likely used as a toilet by Kevin (in fact I'm almost positive poor Kev had to pee in it once when he was an indoor cat and got accidentally locked out of the room his litter box was in when we went away). 

For no real reason other than I was getting tired of cleaning up the leaves the boys pull off, I decided it was time to go. So out it went to the end of our driveway with a free sign, and it wasn't long before it was picked up.

My ties to my early days of living on my own are likely now completely severed. And you know what, it feels good. Because twenty years later, I have much, much better taste in plants and house furnishings in general. No offense fig, it was me, not you - I matured and you didn't. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Choices

The other day we moved Nolan from a carseat to a booster. That was bittersweet.

Exciting because, yay, one less carseat! But sad because his identical twin may never (easily) sit in a regular seat in a car.

Before, that likely would have inspired me to write a heavy post about how hard it is to have identical twins that in many ways are very different. And then afterwards, I would have likely second-guessed how I wrote the post, feeling guilty and worried that Asher might misunderstand it to think I feel he's lesser because he can't sit on his own, when obviously I don't feel that way.

So now, instead of getting sad about it, I chose to say "That's life". And I'm only writing this blog post to illustrate that point. See how that works? It's all about choices, and these are the kinds of choices I'm making going forward.

Also…I needed to say all that so I'd have a tiny bit of content in a post telling the winner of the Monday Coffee book. Thank you to those friends who commented - your words touched me. But I picked the winner based on a totally random number (chosen unknowingly by Rio), so the winner is….Stacie! Send me your address and the book is yours :) So glad you'll be reading it, my well-deserving friend!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tales from the Vault - 2013 in Review

Tales from the Vault is a feature where I bring back some of my favourite posts from the archived blog. All text from the original posts has been left completely unedited; however, where I think context is required it's been added.


So this is a little bit of a cheat for my first "Tales from the Vault", because I'm not actually re-posting anything. But I'm doing it anyway - you'll see why.

For the past couple of years I've done a summary of the previous year by posting the first sentence of the first blog post from each month, and then re-visiting it. So since I still have all of those old blog posts hidden away, I can not only do this, but it also kinda-sorta fits the bill for this feature. Got it? Here we go:

January: I have one basic resolution for 2013: Float On.
  • You know, more so than any other year in recent history, I think I did my best job of that. "Going with the flow" is not something I am really capable of doing. However, I did make a concerted effort to talk myself through sweating the small stuff. I still stressed, don't get me wrong, I just tried a lot harder not to. 
February: This kid is a ham.
  • That was followed by a ridiculous photo of Nolan. He was, is, and probably always will be, a comedian. And that's one of the many things we adore about him.
March: True fact: When I saw Ellen's I didn't know prompt this week, I thought to myself "That's weird, she did before I was a parent last week".
  • That's a confusing one taken out of context. I was referring to my friend Ellen's writing prompts, most of which I participated in last year. Will I keep doing it this year? Maybe, but won't put as much pressure on myself to do so as I did last year.
April: Today is the third anniversary of the day we brought the boys home from the hospital.
  • Well that one's pretty obvious. And loving that day is never going to get old. 
May: If you're curious, here's what Asher's eye is looking like.
  • Asher had just had his strabismus surgery and his eye was looking pretty rough. True to the form of his previous surgeries, recovery from anesthetic didn't go so well either. However, it's all water under the bridge because the surgery was a complete success and Asher's vision is excellent.
June: I may be jinxing myself, but I feel like it is the start of a really good week when your husband has gone to the gym and you have gone for a run, all by 8 am.
  • Well this one is actually pretty significant. No, I didn't exercise that early very often, but last year I took exercising way more seriously. I started running in April and other than having some lazy periods for overly hot weather, getting sick, etc, I have kept it up. I even bought a treadmill (an entire post coming soon about that).
July: We've had a great Canada Day
  • Did we? That's good, because I don't remember anything about it!
August: Are you thinking I mean pot brownies?
  • That was in reference to the blog title: "Baking with Weed". I decided, once, to make dandelion bread out of the dandelions in our yard. The bread was good, but not worth the effort it took Jordan to harvest the dandelions. I expect our yard to be equally full of dandelions this year so need another plan.
September: I love September.
  • Yes, I do. Such a fresh start, and it's my birthday! This September was HUGE because the boys started preschool - a very stressful event for their parents! Preschool has turned out to be one of the most positive additions to their lives and we are so thankful for how they are growing and changing because of it (a post upcoming about that too!)
October: Today is World CP Day.
  • I didn't do anything for it last year, other than apparently write a blog post. I was a bit "CP'ed out" after the previous year of doing the World CP Challenge for a month. (Remember you helped us raise $7427? I do!)
November: Frail.Tiny. Nearly lifeless.
(None of that is really a sentence, which is why I included all of it).
  • That was my post for the boys' 4th birthday, remembering how far they have come since birth. This year was a particularly big year for them. This coming one, with the start of kindergarten and hopefully a power chair for Asher, will be even bigger. 
December: When Captain Underpants walked around in this stocking yesterday, he didn't know the significance.
  • This was Nolan walking around in his Christmas stocking - the same stocking he was small enough to fit in when he was a newborn in the NICU. Another example showing how far they've come.
All in all 2013 was a pretty good year. But I have confidence 2014 will be better!

Monday, January 6, 2014

It's Giveaway Time

Ok people, it's time for a contest.

I always look at other people's blogs having contests and I think "I want to have a contest". But normally those people are giving something away that has been provided by a sponsor, and I don't have a sponsor.

ANYONE WANT TO SPONSOR ME?

That's an open invitation by the way. Think it over.

No but seriously, back to the task at hand. I have something to give away. Something I bought myself, paid shipping for myself, and will ship to the winner myself. Because I'm a really good person and love to give*.

Ready for it?

My book! (also known as "the book I'm in with a bunch of other writers", not technically my book): Monday Coffee and Other Stories of Mothering Children with Special Needs.

You see I was excited to get my copy of the book from the publisher but it was taking a while because apparently USPS and Canada Post don't play nice. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and order a copy from Amazon. Well apparently Amazon was a little flaky when the book was first available, so even though it said it was available, it wasn't. So I waited, and waited, and waited.

Eventually my copy of the book came from the publisher but did not come from Amazon, so I thought "Huh, I guess when the Amazon copy comes I'll give it away for Christmas". But guess what - it never came in time for Christmas either. Now, it's finally here, and yes I could still give it away to a friend or family member, but instead, I want to give it to YOU!

So here's what you need to do to win. One simple thing: leave a comment telling me why you'd like to read a book written by special needs moms. Are you one? Do you know one? Do you have special needs yourself and want to understand your mom better? Do you just like free stuff? Whatever the reason, I'd love to hear it.

Winner will be picked at random and I'll announce the winner back here in a week. Start typing in the comments….now! Good luck!

*Really good person: questionable. Love to give: absolutely!


Friday, January 3, 2014

Well Here We Go...

Here it is, officially the first post of the new blog. Well not technically the first, because the actual first is the last of the old blog. Confusing, right? Well when I got rid of all the old posts from "The Old Trousdell Five" to start "The New Trousdell Five" (that is a really ridiculous way of describing the exact same blog, I know) I kept the last post I wrote explaining what I was doing. Make sense? Probably not. Anyway, I digress. I do a lot of that.

I don't actually have much to say about "The New Trousdell Five" (last time I call it that, I promise). It did hurt a lot more than I expected to delete all of those posts, but there's no going back now! Really, it's not much "new" to the blog. The changes to the layout are subtle. As much as I wanted a BIG DRAMATIC CHANGE, I really liked how it looked before so I didn't want to change it for the sake of just changing it. So this is what we're left with. However, the tabs at the top got all new content so you can take a looksie at those. And there will be a new feature called "Tales from the Vault" that allows me to bring back old favourite posts, but with some context around them when I'm worried about them being misunderstood. That's about all I've got.

Publishing this post was the final step of my "The New Trousdell Five" implementation plan (whoops, just called it that again, and yes, I did create an actual implementation plan because I was a project manager after all). Time to start real writing, but that's not happening right now. Clearly.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

This Is The End

Happy New Year! I wish you health and happiness and all that good stuff for 2014.

With a new year comes change and new beginnings. That's why at 6:00 am this morning, lying in bed angry and agitated that I had forgotten to put the Land of Nod out before bed last night, I had some time on my hands to make a decision. I'll just rip the bandaid off and tell you:

This blog, as we know it, is over.

Ok, that was a bit dramatic. Not quite over, but different. Let me explain.

I have been giving the future of this blog a lot of thought for quite some time. Years, in fact. "Why am I doing this? Why am I putting my heart and soul on the Internet, and for what return?"

I know the answer to that question, at least in the early days. First it was strictly to disseminate information and then it turned into something much larger - therapy. A way to work through and process everything that was going on in our lives. That processing has been going on for almost five years. But now, the processing has slowed down, and the living is where we're really at.

And now that this so called new-normal has been defined, I am focussing on the kids. Ok yes, I have been focussing on the kids this whole time, obviously, in both real life and online. But I specifically mean I am focussing on the kids and what they would think of this blog.

And I'm not talking the embarrassing stuff - that I can handle. Kids of their generation are growing up with their parents posting their every move on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter*. That's the norm. There will be plenty of stuff posted about them on the interweb to embarrass them, not just by me.

And I'm not talking about keeping their names anonymous either. Even if I wanted to, that pretty much went out the window when I used their real names in stories I've had published about them. Besides, I'm not anonymous, so it would be pretty easy to google me and find out I have three kids named Rio, Asher, and Nolan, a husband named Jordan, and a newly-deceased cat named Kevin. So names stay too.

But what I I got thinking good and hard about is all the really raw stuff I've written during the hardest times - the raw is what could be misunderstood by young readers. In a matter of time, Rio will be googling. So will her friends. The boys will be right behind her in no time. She already reads over my shoulder when I am typing. My biggest fear about this blog is that one day any of them may stumble upon a post and not understand its intent or the place of grief/confusion/anger I was at, and feel somehow devalued.

There is a lot of emotion in my writing, and I know that's what people like about it. The past five years have been incredibly emotional. Obviously, we had a loss, a high-risk pregnancy, a micro preemie birth, a brain hemorrhage along with multiple other complications, a five month hospitalization, two diagnoses of cerebral palsy, and thyroid cancer. It was all a lot to take.

At times along the journey, I struggled. Ok I still do, but to a far less extent than I did in the past. Like with anything else, the passage of time begins to heal wounds. But there were undoubtedly some dark days. There are some posts that hurt me too much to go back and read, so I certainly do not want my kids to ever look back at posts I wrote in the midst of the hardest times and worry that I did not accept them completely as they were. Because I did. Whether I struggled with the current crisis of the moment or not, I always loved the kids unconditionally, even though things may not have turned out as I had once expected.

So the only way to ensure they never stumble across anything confusing is to get rid of the blog. And for a long time I thought that is what I'd do. Delete. Full stop. I took my lack of inspiration to write over the past months as a sign to just pack it in. But somehow I could never go ahead and pull the plug.

Then I thought that instead I could keep blogging, but start completely new. Lose all ties to "Trousdell Five" and continue blogging about life in general, including my family of course, at www.traceytrousdell.com, giving the site a complete makeover. That seemed a bit harsh too.

So instead, I decided to do a scaled down version of all of the above. You ready for it? It's kind of simple.

All previous content from this blog will cease to exist (exported to a private blog that I alone will have access to, for posterity). I know there is plenty that could be kept, but I would rather err on the side of caution and remove it all, then going forward re-post some of my favourites in this "new" space. I will then continue to write new content here, and it will continue to be called The Trousdell Five, but there will be some changes to the subject matter.

Don't worry, it's not suddenly turning into a Suburban-Mom-Who-Loves-The-Canucks blog (although there may be a bit more of that included!). But the "old" blog was about "defining the new normal" and I don't feel like we are defining anymore - we are living. A pretty amazing life I dare say! As long as those five months were that the boys spent in hospital, that was a tiny part of their hopefully long timeline. As hard as the couple years after their diagnoses were, again - just a blip on the radar of this family's life in the grand scheme of things. Sure, we are still adjusting, and will continue to do so, but this is a new chapter in our lives and my writing will reflect that.

So really, the main difference going forward will be that with every word I write, I will think long and hard before I hit publish: What will the kids think if they read this? What will their friends think, and say to them about it if they read it? If there is any chance of them misunderstanding the content, I will not share it. Sometimes, I may drop the ball and not realize, and a post might inadvertently bother them in a way I hadn't expected, but I will do my best to consider them and their reactions with every word I write.

So now what?  I've made this little announcement, but haven't really thought out a plan (that's what you get for making a super quick decision on New Years morning when you're mad about cinnamon buns!). I guess that means that over the coming days I will work on removing the current content and likely changing up the look of the blog a bit? That sounds like a plan, right?! This is so unlike me to fly by the seat of my pants! Quick Tracey, finish writing this and publish it so you don't chicken out!


This little family has come so far. It's time to reflect that, and I'm excited. I hope you will continue to follow along with our journey.

*That was an inadvertent, but pretty well placed if I do say so myself, plug for you to follow the Trousdell Five on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram if you don't already. Go for it!