Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Is it really the end of 2010 already??

Wow, I can't believe that 2010 is coming to a close so quickly. Time really does fly!! But it's been another fantastic year. I feel so lucky to have the amazing family and friends that I do!!

So, where to begin... in January I had one of the all time best experiences of my whole entire life. I had the privledge and honour of being a torchbearer for the 2010 torch relay for the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics. I won't go into all the details as I did that back in January, but suffice it to say, it was awesome, amazing, unbelievable. And made even more special by the fact that my family was there to share that moment with me, even though it was in BC in the small town of Oliver.

I was still nursing my stupid foot injury so didn't get the opportunity to train a whole lot at the beginning of the year. I spent lots of time at chiro trying to get my foot better. I was completely out of the habit of exercise and managed to put on about 20 pounds. It was not so fun!! Needless to say, life carried on, and I eventually got back in the groove. I did a short triathlon in May, along with the Mother's Day run 5km, and this year, we had Jessica and Scott running with us, and even more special, little Sebastian ran his first ever 5km race. It was incredible. We also did the Rock the House run in August, this time with my friend Jody. I did another triathlon in August, with Jody as well, and felt quite good about my performance, despite the fact that I had only tried Jeremy's bike the day before the actual race!! Oh well, it worked fine, haha.

The Strathmore triathlon was a real turning point for me. After a year of very poor fitness and eating, I wanted to make a change. I was tired of always having an excuse as to why I didn't exercise, so that day marked the start of no more excuses. And, now, it's January 3rd, and I'm still going strong, having done something every single day since August 15, 2010.

Jeremy and I did Melissa's Road Race in September and it was great. He hadn't done the race in several years and we had a babysitter (thanks Joan), so we even got to grab a bite to eat after at my all time favourite restaurant in Banff, the bison. It was wow factor amazing as always. Next up was the Ambulance Chasers and this one Kim came along for the run. Sebastian was most excited about this, and we spent the race pretending to be trains or STARS or firetrucks.

I also started to watch my eating using the MyPlate application on livestrong. It is a fantastic little calorie counter that has an app for the iphone also. Using this helped me lose about 25 pounds, to the point where I now weigh less than I did before having kids. I still have a little way's to go, but I'm back on track again and looking forward to more results!!

Jeremy and I were both accepted into a personal trainer certificate at Mount Royal University, so I look forward to learning more so I can help others reach their fitness goals. It starts in a couple weeks and I am very excited for this!! I also took the first AFLCA course so that I can get a certification in fitness.

Work was certainly a challenge last year and sadly it made it very hard to be excited about a job I truly love. I look forward to the changes ahead this year and hope that things will be a bit more promising!!

Jeremy had a good year as well. He was at home with the boys and it has been great for them. He's also started working diligently on the basement and I'm hoping that 2011 will be the year it becomes functional usable space for our family!! Jeremy also hit his bottom in terms of weight and exercise. We both managed to come to this conclusion around August and haven't really looked back. He's lost 35 pounds, and looks amazing!! And he's also learned to swim and completed 3 triathlons last year. He also ran his best ever 10km at the Melissa's race finishing well ahead of me (but is still chasing the one hour mark!!). He ran his first ever half marathon as well, being the Police Half. It was fun cheering him on, but very hard being sidelined for one of my favourite races!! Jeremy is also looking forward to getting started on the personal trainer certificate. He also had the opportunity to take a coaching clinic for triathlon in December. He's hoping to do an open water triathlon this year!!

Sebastian finished his first year of preschool and also got through sea turtle on his third try, and then breezed through salamander. Now however, he's working on sunfish. He went to pedalheads bike camp in the summer, and took skating lessons in the fall again (this time all by himself!!). He finished a second block of preschool treatment and did quite well. He's still quite delayed with fine motor and also gross motor skills, but he tries so hard and has the best attitude. If only he could apply this attitude to his eating, which continues to be a struggle. We went camping once in the summer and the boys loved it!! He also started taking gymnastics. We figured it was a good way to build his core, and it has been incredible. He loves it and is now doing somersaults and having the best time!! He loved his advent calendar this year and had so much fun leading up to Christmas. He amazes me every day.

Sullivan had a big year too. He went from being a baby, to a full on toddler, walking and having a very independent streak develop. His eating is phenomenal. He uses forks and spoons and nearly always insists on feeding himself. He adores trains and all things Thomas. He builds tracks and runs the trains along them. He loves colouring, even on the couch on occasion. He loves books and is always bringing up books to us to read. He did swimming lessons with his dad and loved being in the water. He enjoys anytime we go swimming as a family and has the best time. He also started gymnastics and has done well with it. He's often a bit sidetracked and wants to be with his brother, but we worked hard getting him to focus on his class. He loves his brother and copies everything he does. It's quite cute actually. He also had fun with the lead up to Christmas. He loved decorating cookies when Kim came over, and had a lot of fun decorating ornaments too. He goes to child minding at Cardel and totally went from being attached to his stroller to participating in any of the activities they do there. He's a wonderful little toddler, and I can't believe he's almost two!!

That was our year in a nutshell. Busy and fun. And now, I look forward to 2011!! Time to think up some goals for this active little family of ours!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Back to Harry Potter...

So, it's been a few years, and I've decided to have another go at the Harry Potter books. I mean, I know I love them, but it's time to love them all over again!! I just finished the first one, and it was just as good as I remember.

I am very excited for a few years from now when I get to read them with my boys. It will be so neat to share this world with them... but for now, I will enjoy it all on my own...

Monday, December 20, 2010

My amazing little guy...

So, I have two kids, obviously, to anyone who's read this blog before. My oldest is 4 and a half. He was a preemie, and as a result, things did not entirely go according to plan with him. He's a great guy, and I love him with all my heart. His timeline has been unique and he's faced some struggles, most noticably in regards to fine motor skills. So, things happened at his pace and for us, that was completely normal.

Now, enter his little brother. Sullivan is a happy go lucky little toddler that is about to turn two. He doesn't say much, but we took him to the doctor, and that's fine. It's normal and he's trying, which is the most important part. He idolizes his big brother and it's so cute to watch him try to do everything that Sebastian does. But when it comes to fine motor, these two are world's apart. Sullivan loves to feed himself and really doesn't appreciate any help you try to give him. It can be a bit messy, but he's incredible at it. I'd say he has about the same fine motor skills as Sebastian even. He feeds himself more than Sebatian does even.

And then there's colouring. This is something else he loves. Sebastian has not even a passing interest in colouring, but Sullivan loves it!! Today he spent over half an hour colouring a train picture. It was amazing to watch. It's incredible to see how different these two are with skills like that. Sullivan is also keen to build train tracks and trains in a way that Sebastian has never been. It really is amazing the differences between them that way.

I love them both, of course, and I've been awed by the difference between a preemie and a fullterm child and how it has related to their development. Sebastian has taught us about patience and we've learned all sorts of activities and skills to help him along and encourage him to work on fine motor. Sullivan is just excelling at it, at his own pace. He plays games on the iphone. He is constantly bringing us books to read him. He's really good at the look and find ones. I'm blown away by his progress. And I appreciate so much how different he is from his brother. They are definitely each their own person!!

Anyhow, suffice it to say, kids are amazing. They each have their own little path to follow and it's so neat to watch how different they are from one another!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Thanksgiving in Medicine Hat

So, we went down to Medicine Hat for the long weekend. It was a lot of fun. The boys were very excited to visit with their grandparents. The dog was super excited (as demonstrated by the incredible whine that started the moment we turned onto the road to my parents house).

We did something new this time, in that we took the boys swimming at the leisure centre. The wave pool was absolutely freezing, so we didn't last too long there, but the tot pool was a nice temperature and had tons of toys, the boys were in heaven!! So, Jeremy and I took turns in the lap pool. It was nice to swim in a lane all by yourself!! That pool was quite deep though, but it was good. It can be a 50m pool when needed, which I thought was very cool!! We each got in about a 20 minute swim and after that headed out. It was a beautiful facility. Next up was a quick stop at Starbucks, as it was buy some flavoured via get a free drink day. Forgot to get Sebastian a hot chocolate, so went back in for that, and, ended up with a survey, so upon completing that, it will be another free drink. Yay!!

That evening, we had a yummy supper and then Sebastian and I walked down to the creek. He really wanted to go and it was earlier enough that we went quickly. The dogs came with us (of course), and we had fun. On the way back, we were visited by 4 horses. The horses were a bit too close for comfort. They sort of surrounded us, and I tried very hard to stay calm and not panic, but it was a little intimidating. And, they seemed to be chasing Cronos, so anytime he ran in front of us, they were really moving around. I didn't want one of them to get startled and kick us or something. Eventually Cronos sort of stayed behind them, and then they didn't move around quite as much, which was nice!! Once we got back on the other side of the fence, I felt a huge sigh of relief!! Then, dad came out and we fed the horses some treats. That was nice, although Sebastian was still a bit afraid. Although, really, if I was about 3 feet tall, and a horse, that stands about 6 feet tall kept sniffing me, I'd be a bit timid as well. Sullivan, on the other hand, loved it!!

Sunday was fun as well. Jeremy and I went out for a run in the morning, and that was nice. Pretty funny that the last two times we've gone out together, it's been for exercise!! Oh well, it was nice. We went for lunch and then afterwards, took to the boys to a playground. They had so much fun. Sebastian was playing with another boy and having a great time. Sullivan was going up and down the slide. Then, we checked out a coffee shop in Riverside called the Zucchini Blossom. It was neat, part grocery store, part coffee shop, homemade pastries, muffins and cookies. They had little juices, and fantastic coffees. We enjoyed these while the boys finally napped!! Excited to maybe go back there sometime for paninis!!

That night it was time for turkey dinner and it was fanastic. Played with the boys again, fed the horses again (that showed up about the same time as we had fed them treats the day before).

Sleep isn't always easy to come by in Medicine Hat, the dogs often bark, and the boys are all restless in the unfamiliar surroundings, but the coffees help with that, and the company makes it all worthwhile. We had a wonderful visit, but it's always nice to come home again!!

This week, I'm hoping to get a hike in, but I'll have to keep an eye on the weather and see if that's likely or not...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fun times in Coventry Hills

So, yesterday I was between 12 hour nightshifts. I am not a big fan of 12 hour shifts as it leaves you very little time for the rest of your life. And, with two young boys at home, I value the time I have with them!!

Yesterday, once Sullivan woke up, we went over to the park. Sebastian was excited to play with his dump truck and crane, so we took them along. The boys were alone at the park with me, and I managed to get a few exercises in (pushups, squats, dips, lunges, that sort of thing), and then another boy came along. Sebastian started playing with him, they were chasing each other and having fun. And then, some neighbours came along, Sebastian's little buddies, and they brought some dump trucks too. And then, some more neighbours came along, and their little guy brought a dump truck too. And then a whole other group of kids came along. At one point, I bet there was close to 20 kids there. It was fantastic. They were all interacting. There was lots of playing with the rocks and dump trucks, some games of tag and hide and seek, sliding and playing on the playground itself. It was great. We ended up spending almost an hour and half there. We've never gone there for that long before. But it was fun and both boys were loving it, so we just kept on playing. And it was so nice to see that we are finally developing a community and getting to know some of the kids in the area as well as their parents.

So, even though I only had a couple hours at home yesterday, I totally made the most of it with those boys of mine. It was awesome, and I went to work with a big smile on my face, because I had a fun afternoon!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October? Seriously?

Once again, I can't believe how the time has passed, it's crazy!! Life has been busy, and fun. Sebastian is back in preschool, 3 days a week this year. Both boys started gymnastics this year, and that's been great for them. Sullivan is a loving his trains and building track. Sebastian is so busy with Playmobil. Life is fun and certainly keeps us busy!! In August we did the Rock The House run, Sebastian's second 5km. In September, Jeremy and I finished Melissa's 10km (first date in forever and we go running. Crazy!! And in October we ran the Ambulance Chasers 5km. Jeremy ran his fastest ever 5km, and I ran with Sebastian and Kim (my sister), while pushing the stroller with Sullivan. It was a good run and a beautiful evening with the fantastic reward of Spolumbo's after the race. And now, we have no races on the radar yet. Time to sign up for something else...

In the meantime, here's a few pictures from that last little while...

Monday, August 30, 2010

The importance of giving blood...

So, I have had a very rocky road with donating blood. I remember as a kid, my dad would go, and I thought this was just so incredible. I mean, something as simple as the liquid running through your arteries and veins, can be used to help save another person's life!! Seems like such a selfless thing to do!! However, I also had this irrational fear of needles. I remember getting shots in school, and anytime blood needed to be drawn, my veins were not always the easiest to find. But, the day I turned 16, I was ready. Next time my dad went, I went with him. My blood got checked for type and I was in business. Except, somewhere in the middle of the whole thing, I began getting lightheaded and nauseous. It was not pretty. Needless to say, they stopped just short of a pint of blood. I was a semi-successful donor. Did not return for a long time. Then I lived in Florida for a bit, and the bloodmobile came to my workplace, so I decided to try again. Got refused once for low iron, donated successfully twice, and a third time had to stop partway through (back to that fainting light headed thing again). Grrrrr... Oh well, when I got back to Canada, I tried again, and once again, was stopped partway through. This time, they banned me, for life. I was sad.

You see, I really really wanted to be successful, but this stupid irrational fear played mind games with me, and prevented me from success. Well, after I had an emergency c-section to deliver my very sick preemie baby, I wanted to try again. I had to do many blood samples while pregnant and survived a surgery so figured it was worth it. Even more important though, was the fact that my little son, born weighing not even 2 pounds, needed blood. And, over the course of his very rocky beginning, he ended up using 12 different donations, from 9 different people. Think about it. If those people hadn't taken time out of their day to do make those donations, my son would not be with us today. What they did, helped to save his life. He wasn't making his own blood yet, and without the donations, wouldn't have had the ability to deliver oxygen throughout his body. This simple act, by these people, is part of the reason my son is with us today. That is a big deal. It's a huge deal. Every time I hug Sebastian, I am so grateful he's with us. And knowing that complete strangers helped make that happen, made me want to once again try to donate blood. After all, it saved his life!!

So, I called Canadian Blood Services, and asked if I might get a chance to try again. They said sure, and the very next week, I went to a clinic to try. And I was rejected. This time, because I was breastfeeding, and needed the blood for that purpose. Grrrrrrr... and then I was pregnant again and breastfeeding again.

Fast forward to this weekend. I'd been intermitently checking the Canadian Blood Services website to see when they might be close by to try again, and knew they were going to Cardel (the recreation centre by our house). I decided to be brave and go. I drank extra juice in the morning, and headed over. Jeremy was kind enough to take the kids to Costco and let me go (thank you so much!!). So off I went, with The Book Of Awesome to read, while I donated (figuring reading about feel good things could only make donating go well). I was nervous, but excited. I wanted to succeed more than anything. I filled in the mountains of paperwork, answered all the questions, and soon I was waiting to donate. Again, was a bit nervous, but kept thinking of the good that could come of it. She got me all set up, and was super nice. I had an extra juice. And soon, the needle was in and the blood was flowing. And I read my book. And it was great. Soon enough, it was over, and not once did I feel lightheaded. I was so happy, I nearly started crying. It was emotional. But I did it!! And in 56 days, I can do it again if I want!!

I think I have conquered that irrational fear. Two c-sections, mulitple vaccinations, and countless blood draws later, I'm a little more comfortable around needles. They still aren't my favourite thing, but I get that it's a means to an end, and a very important end. And if that's what I have to do to donate blood, then I think I will be able to handle it again!!

The rest of the day, I was just beaming with excitement. I still can't believe it. I'm so happy. I feel that I need to give back. I want to know that some other parent out there has their child because someone took the time to donate. It's so simple and really takes very little time. And in the end, if someone you loved needed blood, wouldn't you want to know that someone took the time to donate? So, please, if you can, take the time and donate, it really does save lives!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

My little firefighter guys...

So, we got a dressup firefighter outfit a few months ago. And, it's a hit. Truly. And it's not just Sebastian that loves it. Sullivan loves it too. As a matter of fact, either would wear it in a heartbeat. A couple weeks ago, there was a pancake breakfast near our house and we ended up going just for the entertainment. I had just finished making breakfast when we kept hearing a helicopter and I looked out and realized that it was STARS landing. I also noticed a couple firetrucks and an ambulance. So, we quickly ate our breakfast and then headed over to the breakfast. We weren't going for food, we were going to check out the emergency services equipment!! And, Sebastian decided that maybe he should wear his firefighter outfit as well. So, he got dressed and off we went. It was awesome!! He had the best time!! He sat in two different firetrucks, went in the back of an ambulance, then saw STARS take off, and finally sat in the front of a police car (who, ironically enough had gone for the pancakes only to discover that he had a line up outside his car as well, haha). He had a great time, and even though he loved the firetrucks, his favourite part, without a doubt, was watching the helicopter take off.

Anyhow, here's a few photos of my little fire fighter guys.

Sebastian with STARS in the background...

Sebastian in the back of an ambulance...

Sebastian driving the firetruck...

Sebastian chatting with the police officer inside the police car...

Sullivan trying on the hat...

And finally he got to try on the jacket...

Not sure if he's so proud cause he's a firefighter or just that he got to wear Sebastian's dressup clothes...

My little cutie...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Life lately...

I have to say, I think the iPhone has been nothing but cruel to my blog. Because of the iPhone, I'm hardly ever on the computer anymore, and don't seem to update this blog with any kind of regularity. That totally sucks because it's such a great way to keep track of life and what's been happening with my boys!!

So, what has been happening? Well, Sebastian finally made it out of SeaTurtle after three tries in his swimming lessons, and only because we asked the teacher and he showed her he could put his face in the water. We decided to capitalize on that and signed him up for Salamander. And, the progress he made was incredible and, drumroll, he passed Salamander on the first try!! So, we again worked with momentum and signed him up for Sunfish. However, I doubt he'll be getting out of it on the first try. But, we helped him get past a major roadblock to his swimming. Just this week, we got him jumping in the water by himself. It's funny though, he pretends he's a chef making me food and then jumps in. He was so afraid to jump without holding someone's hand. The first time, I pushed him. It might not have been the nicest thing, but he was practically jumping, so really, I just helped him along. It helped. He asked me to push him again the next time. And then the third time, he jumped in by himself. I was so proud. And after that, he jumped into deep water. It's great!! So next up, we have to get him swimming. He needs to be able to swim 5m on his own. He's still too afraid to do that. But now that he's jumping, I think the swimming will not be far behind. But I think we'll take a break now and perhaps try swimming again in the fall or winter.

He finished his second round of preschool treatment in June. It was awesome. It was so much better than the first group. The therapists were incredible. I thought the first group was okay, but after the very disheartening finish to the group, and then seeing this group, I realize this group was amazing. They just seemed so much more cohesive and were very much more positive about Sebastian. The physiotherapist especially was fantastic. They offered so many ideas and spoke so nicely about Sebastian and his situation. They are even hoping to have him back in the fall, although at the moment the limit is two sessions, so we'll see if that happens. Anyhow, this time Sebastian got to try riding a bike, and loved it, so we went out and got him a bike. He's so proud of his shiny blue bike. He's had a few falls, but he's learning. And he loves it. He asks almost every day to go riding. For him, this is huge!! We signed him up for a bike camp in August and we'll keep working with him until then to get him more confident on his bike. Jeremy figured out today that part of his problem is bike fit. We need to adjust his handlebars so that he can balance better. Then when he turns, his whole body won't turn at the same time knocking him over...

As for Sullivan. He's a riot. I just love that little guy. He's starting to say a few words, and do a few signs. His first word was "quack" in answer to "what does a duck say?". He also says "mom" and "dad", and if you ask him where Cronos is, or Sebastian, he'll point them out. As for signs, he's got "hungry", "eat", "food", "all done". hmmmm... the kid likes to eat I think. Actually, I know he does. He's an incredible eater. You can put pretty much anything in front of him, and he'll gobble it up. Except he wasn't too crazy about strawberries, but then at his Grandma's last week, he ate two of them. He's playing with all sorts of toys and does great building towers with blocks, playing with trains and putting track together, and loves playing with animals etc. He also loves books and is constantly bringing books to us to read to him. Like all the time. He also loves being outside, and is obsessed with the little water table. He has cups and manages to absolutely soak himself, having a complete blast in the process. And he idolizes his big brother. And will want to do anything that he does. The best example of that was at the pool. Watching his brother jump in, over and over, then, when I took him to the toddler pool, he stood on the edge and jumped in, over and over. And then he practiced his front floats, just like Sebastian does. It was soooo cute!!

So life is busy, and fun. The boys keep it that way. I love it. And I love them. It's been a fun summer so far, and I look forward to more hiking and biking and swimming and everything!!

He finished his second round of preschool treatment and it went so much better than the first time.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day Run through the years...

So this year marked the 5th year that I was a mom on Mother's Day. Granted, I wasn't supposed to be a mom the first year, since Sebastian was not due until June, but he had his own agenda, and we went with it. I thought I would include pictures from all the runs we have done now.

The first year, a group of coworkers ran with me. This was truly special and meant a lot that they would come out and support us in such a special run. It was highly emotional since Sebastian was still in the hospital making the most of the NICU units at the time!! I remember reaching the start line and tears were welling up in my eyes. Oh, and this was when my broken leg was still healing, so 5km was the farthest I had been in a very long time!! We stopped by the hospital on the way to the run, and again afterwards. I can't remember for sure, but Sebastian probably weighed around three pounds by the time Mother's Day rolled around and would have been about 6 weeks old, at 34 weeks gestation.

The second year, the weather was a bit rough. It was rainy before the race began (thus the rain cover on the stroller). Sebastian slept for most of the race, and again we just walked the 5km. It was special as he was finishing the race with us, when a year earlier, he was still in the hospital. So it was a real treat to bring him along, plus there was a NICU Grad celebration afterwards, except the weather didn't really cooperate for that one!!

The third year, Sebastian was in a tv promo for the race. It meant a lot to share our story and help promote the race. We wouldn't have him if it wasn't for the NICU staff and what they do, and the money raised at the race buys new equipment for the unit to help the babies get the best possible care, so really, how can we not run!! This year, I ran the 10km, while Jeremy ran the 5km. I played a special list on my ipod of all the songs I listened to back and forth from the hospital. Once again, it was a very emotional run, but in the best way possible. I will never forget the fear I had when we found out how sick Sebastian was and that he was going to be born the day he was. It was such an intense feeling of fear and helplessness. There was nothing we could do to help him, except for hope and pray. Doing the run this year, and listening to all those special songs was a perfect way to celebrate him and how far he has come.

Last year, my friend Cindy was running the Mother's Day run as her first ever 5km. This was a big accomplishment for her and so I ran the 5km with her, Jeremy ran the 5km on his own, and Cindy's mom walked with Cindy's boys. We finished and afterwards we all met up for snacks on the city hall plaza. The boys had a great time racing back and forth across the plaza.

Which brings us to yesterday. This time we had Jessica (Jeremy's sister), and Scott join us. It was nice to have people to run with and Sebastian was beyond excited to share the race with his aunt!! Every year we decorate our shirts with little phrases, "Proud Preemie Mom", "NICU Saved My Son", etc. This year though, was the first year that Sebastian's shirt was a race shirt, since this was the first year he was a registered runner, with a chip for his shoe and everything!! And he did great!! It was very typical four-year-old running. Lots of stop and go, but man, when he's going, he really motors!! He was darting in and out of people, and it was great. His shirt got noticed several times, so that was a good thing too (spreading awareness etc). He had a super time and finished in 50:21. Way to go my little super trooper!! We are soooooooo proud of you!!

And now, we'll look forward to next year. I'm sure Sebastian will be excited to run this special race again. After all, NICU saved his life!! We've been raising money for the race every year except the first year. And to date, have raised over $5000. I'm so grateful to all my family, friends, and coworkers that have supported us over the years. It means a lot that you donate, and I assure you, that the money goes directly to the equipment that is purchased, and the equipment is what is most needed on the unit to help out with the babies. This run gives the unit a chance to get some of the new technology that comes out, like the vein viewers they are buying this year. They even had those on display at the Fitness Fair. Very neat way to see veins so that there aren't any unnecessary pokes when trying to get an IV in (just imagine how small the veins are on babies who weigh less than two pounds!! So thanks again for your support!!

So there you have it. Five runs in a row. Looking forward to the next five!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sebastian's first 5km race...

Sebastian is gearing up for his very first ever 5km race at this year's Mother's Day Run. Now, he's done a few races already, the kids race at Disney (200 yards), the Mother's Day kids race (about 100meters), and his longest to date was last year at the Okanagan Marathon where he did the kids race of 1.2km (although preparing for that he ran 41km so that on race day he actually had run a whole marathon). But this year, he wanted to race with me in the Mother's Day run. This race is very special to us because they raise money for Neonatal Intensive Care, and Sebastian was a preemie who made very good use of the NICU unit. I know that we've told his story many times before, but here it is again for anyone new and for anyone just wanting to feel inspired, because believe me, he's an inspiring little guy!! Here's the link to Sebastian's pledge page if you want to make a donation:

On March 24th, 2006, Sebastian was born into this world via an emergency c-section after an ultrasound revealed he was very sick with fetal hydrops and was likely not going to make it unless he was born that day. We rushed to the hospital and bumped a bunch of other people so he could be born right away. It was such a scary event!! Before that day, I was wondering how in the world I was ever going to deliver a baby, yet on that day, didn't even have time to stress about it, as I was prepped and in surgery so quickly so they could get him out. He was intubated almost immediately and aside from a very brief stop where they held him up so I could see him (thanks Jeremy for asking them to do that), was whisked off to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Foothills. This began a whole new world for us. Jeremy headed off to be with the baby while I went to recovery for surgery. I was given a polaroid picture of Sebastian and that was it. My legs were frozen so I couldn't walk to go see him. But he was really too sick for visitors anyways!!

Eventually though, I was taken down by wheelchair (I also had a broken leg you see). I washed my hands and headed into the unit. He was so tiny, weighing only 830 grams (1lb 13oz). And he was hooked up to so many machines. It was really quite scary to see the first time. I believe at one point he had 9 different IVs going. They poked him in the head, arms, legs etc. He was on drugs to paralyze him so he couldn't fight the machines. He was on drugs for pain. He was on a fat drip. He was on drugs to help with his blood pressure, other drugs to help with his heart. When they did rounds it took forever to go through all the stuff that was wrong with him. The list was long. The first weekend they kept adding more machines and switched him from a conventional ventilator to the oscillating one. Then they added nitric oxide. He was at the maximum settings on everything (for example, you can't get more than 100% oxygen). There was nothing else they could do. If he didn't start improving, there was nothing else that could be done. And, miracle of miracles, he did improve, and slowly, they could start changing the medicines and try to wean him off stuff (many of the meds are really not that good for you in terms of side effects etc). At one week old, he suffered a huge set back. He had a bowel perforation. It required emergency surgery and although he'd been weaned off the nitric oxide and oscillating ventilator, he was back on both again. It was a scary day!! After that though, he started improving and when he was 17 days old, I got to hold him for the first time!! I'll never forget when they placed him on my chest and he just snuggled in and slept. After watching him struggle day after day, it was amazing that I finally got to hold him, to touch him, to just be his mom.

He continued the road of a NICU baby. He had ups and downs but slowly grew and a month after he was born weighed one kilogram (2.2lbs). He got to experience a whole new set of milestones. No more bili lights, getting off a ventilator, then getting off the next ventilator, weighing a kilogram, his first dirty diaper, getting the different meds weaned. Getting into an isolette (once he was stable enough to be behind glass), getting out of an isolette (once he was able to hold his temperature), getting off oxygen, being IV free, being feeding tube free, being apnea free for 24 hours, going for his first ambulance ride (moving to PLC, six weeks after he was born). Finally, spending the night alone with his parents and no monitors, and then, taking him home.

It was a long road in the NICU, but he was amazing through the whole thing. He certainly gave us a few scares, but fought on. He was a little super trooper the whole time. He's amazing!! After coming home, he ended up back in the hospital two weeks later for eye surgery and hernia repair surgery. It was scary seeing him intubated again, but two days later, that was done and he was home again. He's had some complications from his early arrival, but for the most part, he is a thriving little four year old. He's sweet, loves to cuddle and loves to run. He loves it, the running. He loves getting out his runners, putting on his Garmin watch, even though he doesn't know what any of the numbers mean, having mini races, pretending to be cars racing down the highway, pretending to be an airplane or HWC1. It's non stop with him and it's just so much fun.

Every day I am so grateful he's with us. I have so much fun hanging out with him. Everything, from building trains to running together, to playing with water or making something in the kitchen. He's got an incredible zest for life and is just curious about everything. His imagination is fantastic and he's a little sweetheart!!

But, it all comes back to the NICU and the fact that without that unit, and the incredible nurses and doctors that work there, he wouldn't be with us today. He was incredibly sick and had a lot to overcome in addition to just being early. So always, we will be grateful to the staff at the hospitals for saving our son. He is a NICU graduate and soon, he will be a proud finisher of his first ever 5km race. The Mother's Day run raises money and buys specific equipment for the unit. As a child who used some pretty specific equipment during his stay, I know that this stuff makes a huge difference to the kids. So, please, support Sebastian in his first ever 5km, in a race that means more to him, than he even realizes at this point!! Here's the link again to his page...

Monday, April 19, 2010

A cookbook review at the daring kitchen...

I'm so excited that I got to review a cookbook for The Daring Kitchen. I got to review The Best of Chef at Home: Essential Recipes for Today's Kitchen. Want to check out the review? Here is the link:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Oh the challenges...

I love my boys. Truly. They are both amazing kids and I am so lucky to be their mom. Every day, Sebastian is becoming a more incredible kid. And Sullivan, I am absolutely blown away by him and his potential. Yesterday, he was putting together his own pizza with the Melissa and Doug pizza set. It was so neat to watch. Nobody showed him, he just figured it out from watching his brother play. Truly, impressive. I have fun with them every day. We dance, we sing, we run, we play. Life is beautiful and they make me smile all the time.

Some days though, I feel a little bit blah. Let me explain. By now, if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you will know that Sebastian was born premature. He was born at 28 weeks, and he was super sick when he was born. We were not given any guarantee on his outcome, whether or not he would live, and what kind of life he would have if he did live. Really, it was stepping into the complete unknown. The only thing they knew for sure, was that if the pregnancy continued, he would die. So, we went ahead with the emergency c-section. He was born, ventilated immediately, and his roller coaster began. I won't go through all that again, because, well, been there, done that. But suffice it to say, a baby is supposed to be inutero for forty weeks. Twenty-eight weeks, really isn't ideal. Not by any stretch. And the time missed inutero, has an effect. There are consequences for that missed time. Those consequences vary from child to child, from case to case, from family to family. Sometimes there is almost no leftover remnants of the lost time, however, in most cases there are consequences and they range from very mild to very severe. Sebastian is fortunate that most of his challenges have been fairly minor in the huge spectrum of things he could be facing. But those challenges are there none the less.

The older Sebastian gets, however, the more we learn about some of the consequences of being born that early. Now don't get me wrong. For the most part, he's a regular little boy. But there are some things. Like his glasses. He ended up having very severe ROP and had to have surgery so that he would not go blind. Of course a side effect of that, is the glasses. It's not a huge deal, I understand that, but it still limits him in some ways. Had he been born fullterm, he would not have had ROP.

And fine motor. He is very delayed with fine motor skills. Again, it's not super serious, but he just turned four, and has the fine motor skills of someone who just turned two. So, what does this mean? Well, unlike his peers, he can't use a fork or spoon very well. This is a huge challenge for him. He can't undo or do up his pants. He can't do up zippers on his own. He can't draw or write anything. I know these aren't the biggest deal, but they are things we have to work on, things that most other kids his age can do. And he's working on it, my goodness is he ever. But without a doubt, it slows him down. I hope he will catch up. We are told he should, but it's suddenly becoming harder to be a parent, watching him be challenged by things that others pick up with no issue.

Part of me feels so guilty for the challenges he has. I don't think I have any reason to. But I just feel like, if he hadn't gotten so sick in utero, and didn't need to be delivered early, that he would be just fine now. I wonder if I should have done things differently during the pregnancy, yet what could I have changed? I didn't drink, I didn't smoke, I exercised, I ate a variety of foods. I drank water. I took my vitamins. I did all the things I was supposed to. Well, I broke my leg, or better yet, my dog broke my leg. And I wonder if that somehow caused the rest of the issues. The doctors said it did not, but the doctors could not find a reason that he got sick in the first place. I mean, I know I can't look back and second guess everything, but I just hope there was nothing that was in my control that could have prevented this.

Now, having a fullterm child, I am becoming more aware of how much extra work Sebastian has had to do on many of his skills. Sullivan picks things up no problem. He has incredible fine motor skills, probably equal to, or better than his older brother. He grasped the concept of eating immediately, with very little assistance required. He is already trying to dress himself. He is keen and interested in everything around him. He loves the outdoors. Very little slows him down. It has been a totally different experience. And I truly appreciate that.

On Friday I met with his preschool treatment therapists to learn about the assessments they had completed. He rocked the language and speech. I mean, he is doing amazing!! He has the vocabulary of someone who is 5 years, 8 months. He speaks clearly, is easy to understand and uses good grammar the majority of the time. Amazing. Awesome. Way to go little man. Gross motor is still a little behind but not too much. Fine motor, while, I already spoke of that. He measures very low on the spectrum. And we knew he would. And this explains so much about the things he isn't doing. And we know where we need to work.

But, we were confronted with a whole new set of issues. Related to sensory inputs and overloads and stuff like that. It was tough sitting there listening to them talk about it, yet it again, explains a lot with some of our challenges with Sebastian. His unusual sleep patterns, his challenges with food, and more. I asked if this is something he grows out of. They said, he was born at 28 weeks, there are consequences to the lost time. One of them is the heightened sensory inputs, and no, that will not change. Will he end up with a diagnosis? They don't see that at this point, but he will need to learn to find outlets to help him cope with the information that comes in at rates and ways he can't handle. He will meltdown, he will run, he will figure out what he needs to get to his happy place. And it helps explain his eating even more. Between all the tubes that were shoved down his throat, and what not, his mouth is ultra sensitive. He has a very hard time eating things of a certain size, or texture, or what have you. So, aside from having the challenge of not being able to use a fork or spoon very easily, he also has a hard time with sensory overload in his mouth. And in the end, is happiest drinking. It doesn't send funny messages to his brain. And when he has difficulties at swimming putting his face in the water, it's not just about putting his face in, its about what's happening to his ears and eyes and hair and everything else. Even though he works really hard to do this, his brain sends messages that counteract what he's trying to do. I still don't understand everything they were talking about, as this was totally new and not something I expected to be jumping into that day. But, we will have to work with him on this stuff, and help him find ways to get to his happy place.

So, for anyone out there, please be patient. He doesn't always get the correct message when you are talking to him. And sometimes, other things in the world around him distract him to a point where he just can't handle it. So he might get totally fixated on one thing. That might not be the hill to take a stand against him. His eating likely won't be that great anytime soon. And it's okay if you help him with his pants or with a zipper. He's still learning, and may take awhile to become more independent. It's okay when we have to help him eat, or he won't. It's okay if we help him get his socks and shoes on, or he'll just go without. It's okay if we help him with the bathroom, even though he's potty trained, that doesn't help with the fact that he can't do up his pants. So, we will keep working on things. We want him to succeed just as much as anyone else. We aren't trying to take away from his potential, we are working with him to reach it. He might look and sound like any other kid, but he is dealing with an extra set of things that other kids might never have to. That's a lot for him to carry, but he does it well.

I love my boys. They are both amazing and they are both very much their own person. I will be forever grateful that Sebastian is with us, as I know his odds were extremely dismal in his first weeks. And if the price he has to pay to be with us is in some of these challenges, then I will help do whatever I can to give him the tools to succeed. And yes, I'll be a little sad that things are more challenging than they should be. But for the amazing little kid that he is, I wouldn't miss it for the world. And in Sullivan I'll appreciate things they way they usually go. They really are both great kids. And watching them play together and chase each other around the house laughing the whole time, is so worth every moment. Thank you Sebastian for helping me develop patience and an ability to stand up for you and what you need. And thank you Sullivan for testing that patience and keeping me in check. I know I have a lot to learn yet about being a parent, but I have the greatest little teachers!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Sebastian... 4 years old!!

Wow, I completely cannot believe that you are four years old!! I can't believe, that four years ago, on this day, I was going to an ultrasound with your dad to just double check that everything was okay with you, and that I had a physio appointment booked for after that (I had a broken leg and it wasn't healing well!!). And I remember that ultrasound appointment well, as so many people had to come and look. We knew something was wrong, but nobody would say anything until the next person checked it out, and 3 techs, and two doctors later, someone finally talked. You were sick. You were really really sick. They would have liked to give me some shots to help your lungs along, but there wasn't time for that. You were too sick. If they didn't get you out, you weren't going to make it. You had hydrops and the outcome was unknown, but if you weren't delivered, you wouldn't be with us. That part they knew for sure. What a scary moment. All we wanted for you was to be okay. It's funny though, I somehow knew you were going to be born that day. So when they suggested that, I wasn't shocked, I was just so incredibly afraid for you and whether or not you'd be okay.

And, after you were delivered, I barely got a glimpse of you, before they whisked you away to the NICU to work on you. You were already ventilated and things weren't going well. You began with a very rocky start and hour by hour, you got worse, not better. They brought out more treatment options and different machines to help you along. They had to prioritize the tests they did on you, because you had hardly any blood and they needed to do transfusions. It was very scary. But you were a little fighter. And as the days passed, you gave us some scares, but slowly you got better. It was amazing to watch you meet the different NICU milestones. Peeing, pooping (these were huge!!), getting off different medications, getting off the ventilator, getting off the nitric oxide, weighing in at 1 kilogram (2.2lbs) was a huge one, holding your temperature, tolerating breast milk, passing your hearing screen, moving from the isolette to a cot, getting off oxygen. It was a tough road you took in the beginning, but your resilience and zest for life were apparent early on.

I remember when we finally got to take you home. I was amazed that the hospital actually trusted us to take care of you. I mean, what did we know!! We had never been parents before, yet, here we were, responsible for all your needs. It seemed like such a huge responsibility and then you add in the part where we didn't have any machines at home to monitor you, and it seemed so scary!! But, we figured it out. Of course two weeks after you were discharged you were back in the hospital having eye surgery and a hernia repair surgery!! That was scary. I remember you in your little green scrubs and carrying you down to the surgery ward. And then leaving you with the nurses after talking to both doctors who would be doing the surgeries, back to back. And then waiting to hear how things went, and then watching you back in the ICU again, back on a ventilator, then back on oxygen, hoping and praying you'd come off it (which you did!!).

And then you began to grow and change. It was amazing watching you discover the world around you. We didn't get to do a whole lot of social stuff. RSV season is a very scary time for preemies and we didn't want to expose you to anything, so for the most part, we kept you out of social settings. We still went to the dog park most days. And that was nice.

Then you started to develop. There was rolling over, and tummy time, and sitting and crawling and all that good stuff. Because you were so small when you were born, you didn't have the muscle strength of other babies your age, so some things took a little bit longer to do. That's okay though, because you still did them all. I remember when we signed you up for your first race, we didn't even know if you'd be walking or not!! But you were and you finished it. Talking also took a bit longer, but here you are, turning four years old, and at your assessment last week, had the vocabulary expected of someone 5 years, 8 months old. You totally rocked all your speech and language tests!! You still have some fine motor challenges, but we're working on it. And I have no doubt you'll catch up with that too!!

So Sebastian, who are you right now? You are this amazing little boy. You say the sweetest things and are super affectionate. You love cuddling and you love being with people. You always have a hug for me or dad and you are becoming an incredible big brother to Sullivan. You help him out with things, you give him toys, you share (well, sometimes anyhow), and when you do happen to knock your brother over, you are quick to apologize and give him a hug. You love dinosaurs, and trains. You love your blue blanket and sleep with it most every night. And ever since Sullivan got his Giuseppe bunny, you have been attached to your musical blue puppy. You love anything electronic and love talking on the phone to people now. You love dancing with me and your brother to songs like "I gotta feeling", "just dance" and "paper planes". And you enjoy the They Might Be Giants kids albums, with your favourite songs being "Bloodmobile", "A Shooting Star is Not A Star", and "7". Movies, your favourites are Peter Pan, Shrek, Toy Story 2, Beauty and the Beast, Alladin, Monsters Inc, and Up. And television, you love the Backyardigans (Robot Rampage!!), Super Why, Dinosaur Train, Handy Manny, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Special Agent Oso. And you love books!! You love all kinds of stories, and have pretty much learned all the letters of the alphabet now. You love playing on the computer at

Foods, well, they are challenging. Eating isn't your strongest suit, but you do love your cookies, especially Oreos and Chips Ahoy. You love grapefruit and avocado. And toast, you love toast, with Nutella, raspberry jam, peanut butter, and most recently, honey. And your all time favourite eating out food is McDonalds chicken and fries. You also love the kids hot chocolate from Starbucks, which you drink with a straw. You are becoming quite the little chef and love helping me make puffed wheat squares or cookies or pretty much anything where you get to stir and measure.

You are in preschool and doing quite well with that (well, except for Monday, when you fell at the gym and ended up with a bleeding nose). You enjoy swimming, and finally passed Sea Turtle on the third try (you aren't a big fan of sticking your head in the water!!). You have taken skating lessons, and are still finding your balance on the ice. And you are in sportball, and doing quite well at that. But far and away, your favourite exercise is running. If we strap the garmin watch on your wrist, you would run for hours. You love having little races and told me you want to run a race with me. So I am thinking we might run Mother's Day together this year!!

Sebastian, every day you amaze me with what an incredible little boy you are. You are sweet and kind and I am so proud of all that you have accomplished. I am amazed at how far you've come since your beginning when you weighed only 1 pound 13 ounces (830grams). You truly are a miracle, and I am thankful every day to have you in my life. You make me smile and laugh all the time. You are my best little buddy!! Thank you for all that you are, and I look forward to all that you will be. You are amazing and I love you!!