Wednesday, June 27, 2012

End of the Year Report Card Day

As I write this, I am sitting at my desk at work, having just hung up from one of the best conversations I've ever had. You see, today was report card day at Jonas's school. When I dropped him off this morning, he was a little hesitant about what his marks would be like. I reassured him that his Dad and I weren't at all nervous about it, and that we both expected that he'd do just fine. I reminded him that we've worked closely with his teacher all year, that we've seen every test and assignment, his daily reports, etc. I also reminded him that he's worked hard and done his best all year long and that's what really matters. Mom's words are hard to hear, though, when you've got a lump in your throat and an ache in your tummy.

He called as soon as he and Steve had a chance to look at it, which I gather was in the truck before they even left the parking lot. I could hear the pride in his voice as soon as he started reading off every mark. They were mostly Bs and Cs, punctuated with B+s in Science and Social Studies, and an A- in Math. He was a little quiet when he told me about the D+ in Music, but we knew this coming. He doesn't have some Bart Simpson-like bad attitude but, rather, it turns out that when he's in Music class, he's more like Bart's sister Lisa in the opening sequence of the show. He's got the music in him and it just has to come out with it's own flair. Sheet music and Conductor be damned!  LOL!

I'm thrilled for him. He worked hard this year. It was a team effort but he did it. We had moments when we thought he was going to go down the path of hating school and frankly, we were right there with him once in a while. He didn't give up and even found some things along the way that he thought were cool enough to explore on his own outside of school.

Of course, his teachers deserve HUGE accolades. He was blessed to have a teacher who really gets ADHD, speech disfluency and little boys. Mrs. G was just the teacher we needed this year. Her understanding, patience and experience were truly blessings for us. All of the staff at the school are outstanding and for us, this year, Mrs. G was like the team captain who kept everyone on the same page in the playbook. We got her and the staff some token thank you gifts but we'll never be able to adequately express how grateful we are for them.


Wordless Wednesday - The Best Day at School EVER!

Yesterday was Play Day at Jonas school. I made the mistake of asking him about it at bedtime last night. Queue the instant non-stop, vivid descriptions and animations. I'm pretty sure he was still talking about it after he fell asleep. This morning he picked up right where he left off. In honour of Wordless Wednesday, I'll let the smile on his face tell you story. Cheers!

"Mom, I wish school could be like that every day!"

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Thoughtful Tuesday

We woke up to a beautiful morning today. I had a thousand and one thoughts running through my tiny brain, and I had a late start at work, so..... I decided to go for a hike on one of the local trails and try to collect my thoughts. It works every time!


Normally I hate it when urban life crashes into my wilderness experience but I like this train track.
It reminds me of my Grandparents farm when I was growing up.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What is Lupus Anyway?

I've been asked a few times lately "What's Lupus?", so I thought I'd take a stab here at explaining it. I'm still learning about it myself, particularly how it manifests for me, which seems to be changing right along with my aging body.  Lupus Canada has a great website that I'm going to blatently steal from now:
What is Lupus?
Lupus is a chronic disease with a variety of symptoms caused by inflammation in one or more parts of the body. It is estimated that it affects over 1:1000 Canadians.
Lupus is not contagious and is not related to AIDS or cancer. It belongs in the family of diseases that includes rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, juvenile diabetes, and scleroderma.
The most common type of lupus is SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus). It is a complex and baffling condition that can target any tissue or organ of the body, including skin, muscles, joints, blood and blood vessels, lungs, heart, kidneys, and the brain.
There are other types of lupus which mainly affect the skin. A few individuals develop drug-induced lupus as a response to some medications used to treat other conditions. These symptoms disappear when the person stops taking the medication.
Who gets lupus? Anyone can: women, men, children. Between the ages 15 and 45, eight times more women than men get lupus. In those under 15 and over 45, both sexes are affected equally.
What causes lupus?
No one knows for sure. What we do know is that, in lupus, the immune system (the body's defense against viruses and bacteria) is unable to tell the difference between intruders and the body's own tissues. Trying to do its job, it attacks parts of the body, causing inflammation and creating the symptoms of lupus.
Because it occurs most often in women of childbearing age, it seems evident that there is a link between lupus and some hormones, but how this works remains uncertain. It also appears that inherited factors may make certain people more likely to develop lupus, but these also are not clear yet.
Until science fully understands how the immune system works, the specific cause of lupus remains unknown.
What are the symptoms of lupus?
General statements about symptoms of lupus can be helpful, but each person's experience will be very different. Some people will have only a few of the many possible symptoms. Because it can target any of the body's tissues, lupus is often hard to pin down or diagnose. That's why it is called "the disease with 1000 faces".
Before symptoms specific to lupus occur, flu-like symptoms may appear, along with severe fatigue, a sudden unexplained loss or gain in weight, headaches, hair loss, hives, high blood pressure, or changes in the colour of fingers in the cold.
Any of the following may indicate to a doctor that lupus is present. A person with lupus may experience:
  • Joint pain, sometimes with swelling, redness and heat
  • A red rash across upper cheeks and bridge of the nose
  • Extreme fatigue
  • An unusual reaction to sunlight
  • A red scaly rash
  • Small, usually painless sores inside the nose or mouth
  • Chest pain, worse when lying down or inhaling
  • Swelling of feet and legs, weight gain
  • Seizures or severe psychological symptoms
  • Abnormalities in blood chemistry which show up in blood tests
This is far from a complete list of symptoms, and the diagnosis of lupus must be made by a doctor.
Living with lupus: what to expect
A chronic illness, lupus is different for each individual, but it often appears in cycles, which can consist of:
  • a 'flare', with severe acute symptoms needing medical attention;
  • a 'chronic' phase, when symptoms may continue but are less severe;
  • a 'remission', when symptoms may disappear completely for long periods, but can return.
In the chronic phase, and especially in the remission phase (when it is easy to forget to take care), a person with lupus needs to avoid situations that can bring on a flare. These include getting too tired, intense stress, poor diet or other factors noticed by patient or doctor.
Lupus is a serious condition, but diagnosis and treatment are improving. Today it can be treated and controlled. More and more people with lupus are finding that they can be active and productive.
What about treatment for lupus?
While there is no cure yet, with treatment most people with lupus can look forward to a normal life expectancy. The treatment plan will depend in part on the type and severity of symptoms.
There are many medications that can control symptoms, from a mild anti-inflammatory to some very potent steroids. Generally, a doctor will prescribe the least powerful one, over the shortest time, that can do the job. Medications may have side effects, and, in combination, some drugs can interact to produce unexpected reactions. Both doctor and patient need to be aware of these possibilities, and watch for them.
Living with lupus: what helps?
One thing that makes a huge difference in living with lupus is the person's role in controlling the disease. We can deal better with the challenge of living with this or any chronic condition by learning all we can about the condition and by being aware of how our own body reacts.
Often, a person's flares follow a clear pattern, with the same combination of symptoms every time. An informed patient can watch for warning signs and alert the doctor early on. While false alarms happen, catching a flare in its early stages can make treatment easier and more effective.
With this as a basis, a good working relationship with the doctor is crucial for the success of treatment. The strong support of family and friends can be equally important. Membership in lupus organizations can also help meet the challenge.
What is happening in research?
Many doctors and scientists are investigating the cause and cure of lupus. At medical centres worldwide (including Canada), research has led to improved tests and techniques for diagnosis and better methods for predicting flares. These allow doctors to start treatment sooner, which improves chances for success.
As part of research, many centres collect and store patient information and statistics. The results of this data can help doctors and patients make better decisions about treatment of an increasingly wide range of symptoms. This, along with today's advances in technology, the greater awareness about lupus, and the promise of a cure, gives hope to all whose lives are touched by lupus.
Want further information?
To learn more about lupus, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, management, and coping with this chronic disease, contact Lupus Canada by email at mailto:info@lupuscanada.orgor by calling 1-800-661-1468 to obtain our free resource Living well with lupus FACTS.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Mystery - Girls

For the last couple of weeks, Jonas and I have been reading "The Dangerous Book for Boys" at bedtime. Here's the description of the book from the publisher's website:
"The bestselling book for every boy from eight to eighty, covering essential boyhood skills such as building tree houses, learning how to fish, finding true north, and even answering the age old question of what the big deal with girls is.

In this digital age there is still a place for knots, skimming stones and stories of incredible courage. This book recaptures Sunday afternoons, stimulates curiosity, and makes for great father-son activities. The brothers Conn and Hal have put together a wonderful collection of all things that make being young or young at heart fun-building go-carts and electromagnets, identifying insects and spiders, and flying the world's best paper airplanes."
We have the UK and Canadian versions of the book and every night, Jonas flips through the table of contents and chooses something that he's interested in learning about. We've read about famous explorers, astronomy, building go-carts, the rules of soccer, survival kits, and many other things. We continued the trend last night, but with an unexpected twist. Last night he wanted to read the chapter on "Girls".
"Mom," he said, "I really need to figure out how to get Maria to notice me. She doesn't even know I'm alive. Maybe this will help."  
Ok, felllow mom's of the world with little boys who are just discovering girls, here's the magic advice from the book:
  • Take care of yourself and make sure you don't smell
  • Don't be gross
  • Girls like flowers
  • Help her with heavy lifting and - Jonas's favourite piece of advice - if something's too heavy for you to carry, sit on it and engage her in conversation.
Steven just smiled and nodded as Jonas told him about all the new secrets he's going to try. His skepticism is probably well placed but, as a mom, those four things sound like really good advice.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Flashback Friday: 10 Years Ago Today...

On June 1, 2002 Steve and I said I do and our family began.
10 years - wow!

Our wedding party and closet friends: (Left to Right)
Debbie, Kevin, Tara, Bubba, Steve, Jacqui, Chris, Nikki, Cliff and Donna
We had no idea then what life had in store for us but we we're full optomism and hope. A lot has happened in 10 years. We've been through ups and downs, our family has grown and we've both been fundamentally changed, but one thing has stayed consistent - we're surrounded by love.