Saturday, April 30, 2016

Story Behind The Kids Names

Why/how we chose our little ones names.

Vienna Ruby
It took a while for us to find a name that we both liked. But one day it seemed to click when we were listening to a song -  "Vienna" by Billy Joel. Both of us really liked the song and hadn't heard the name Vienna before. We weren't looking for something super unique, but definitely something that not a lot of other kids had. So this name fit perfect. Also, I really liked the first line of the song "Slow down you crazy child" - made me think of how fast babies/kids grow up.

We knew what her middle name was going to be the second we found out she was a girl, Ruby. This is because Greg and I met at Ruby Tuesdays when we were both working there. It was a perfect, meaningful middle name.

She has tons of nickname options. We call her V, Vivi, Nen, or Nenna.

Hadley Coe
We chose the name Hadley much earlier than our other two kids, about midway through the pregnancy. It was a name that I had on my list since Vienna was about one. We found out we were having another little girl about 2 weeks before Vienna was diagnosed, Vienna was excited to have a little sister and insisted her name be "Flower". After a little nudge she agreed on Hadley. I heard the name a while back on True Blood and just always liked it. It really fits her now.

Her middle name is probably not one you hear often. We chose it because I was having a home birth and it was the name of the street in which she was going to be born on. After we all agreed on her full name, we ended up moving to a different home 1 week before she was born (it was a CRAZY week). The new street name didn't flow at all so we still went Coe. I love how her name flows together.

For nicknames, we usually call her Had or Haddie.

Sawyer Flynn
I've never had a boy name that I was in love with or even any that I had on a list. Since we found out very early at 11 weeks that we were having a boy, I knew I had a lot of time to figure out a name. But this pregnancy went by super fast and before I knew it I had a no-name baby boy in my arms! On the name list we had Holden, Jack, Levi, and Sawyer. We were looking for a classic name. I thought that when I saw him I would just "know" but we didn't. It wasn't until about 3 hours later that we decided he was a Sawyer and we're both happy we made that decision.

We knew his middle name would be Flynn because it was meaningful to us. Our children's pediatrician is Dr. Flynn and she has been through it all with us. She is the one who first spoke the word "Leukemia" to us and she was always there visiting Vienna in the hospital.

We're still working out a good nickname for this little guy. Right now we call him Soy and little soybean, not too great but i'm sure we'll come up with some more.

As for future little ones? Well, not sure there will be any ;)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

"Special Treatment"

Due to a recent issue that we have encountered, I have thought quite a bit about the words "special treatment" and if they apply to our situation. I've never thought of myself as a "helicopter mom" or a mom who would ask anyone to go out of their way/break the rules for my child. But - with each experience we encounter in our lives, our outlook on things can change. I am one who follows the rules - always. Ask my husband, he'll say the same. If I see a sign that says don't do something, I don't do it. I am afraid of consequences. When I try to call and clear up a situation and they tell me "No", I hang up and try to let it go. But in this recent situation - their rules were just not right. So I had to bring in my husband to help clear it up.

Situation - For April school vacation we signed her up for an extra special experience, a daily M-F zoo camp. We usually don't like to commit to anything because there is always that possibility she get sick, but she's off treatment and had been doing so well. It wasn't cheap but we made it work. She was SO excited. The Thursday before school vacation I got a call from the school nurse who said she wasn't feeling well and had a low grade 100 degree fever. I picked her up at lunch time and took her home to rest. By the next day (Friday) her temp was up to 103.8 and she had vomiting as well. We took her to her Pediatrician and she had a viral infection, we were sent home to rest and encourage fluids. The high temp stayed through Sunday and a cough came as well. By Sunday night she hadn't used the bathroom at all and her cough was really bad. I decided it was time to go to the ER to get her checked out. I figured we would go in, get some fluids and go home. She could still feel better the next day for zoo camp. When we got to the ER they did a chest x-ray to rule out Pneumonia, but it confirmed Pneumonia. Her oxygen saturations were hovering around 90% (dipping as low as 84) and they did not feel comfortable with us leaving. We stayed for two nights and she received many doses on antibiotics and fluids. On Tuesday zoo camp called to see why she hadn't been there, I told them the situation (tearing up when I told them how excited she had been). I asked if we could possibly switch the week for a week in the summer so she could still experience it. I was told they had strict rules but she would run it by the director. I got a phone call back about 20 minutes later and she said sorry, they weren't able to refund the money or switch the week. I was very upset and rules are rules I guess. I then called my husband and explained what had happened (he was at home with our other two children), he was NOT happy with the answer. He called back and left several messages. He finally reached the director who, at first, was not much help. She insisted they cannot bend the rules, even for these circumstances. Not until he mentioned what the news would think about this did she change her attitude. In the end, we did get the week switched to a week in the summer - but it was only because they didn't want us to reach out to the news or put any attention on them, not because they had a change of heart.

Our situation with our child is unique. We have a child who has faced death, before even knowing what it was. She has made friends at her cancer clinic and then lost them due to the horrible disease.  She has had years of her innocent childhood stolen from her. Those years were so important to her development, socially and emotionally she is not where she should be. She never got to experience the first day of Kindergarten or her first Father/Daughter dance (which she cried for days about). After all that we have gone through as a family, we realized that every day is important because the next day could change everything.

I'll just say it - children who have fought or are fighting cancer should get special treatment. Everything possible should be done to ensure that they are experiencing life and making memories. As much as we wanted her to live a normal life, it's just not possible. She has been through too many traumatizing events. Even though she is no longer sick and her hair is growing back, the pain of all that has happened stays. Tomorrow we could hear the word "relapse" and that is why today is so important. 15-20% of children who have been treated for A.L.L. will relapse, that's a big number! I don't want to live everyday scared of her relapsing, but it is a possibility. That's why it is crucial she get to experience everything possible. There's a thing called "pulling the cancer card". When she was in the midst of treatment she was completely bald - you could tell she had cancer. We never really had to ask for special treatment, people would just do it because they felt bad. Once they start to look more "normal" no one has any idea what they've gone through. So sometimes you try to "pull the cancer card" so that way she can experience something extra special. I'm officially not ashamed to say that on rare occasions, we do it. And if it gets her to give us an extra big smile, then it was TOTALLY worth it.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Things I Do To Make My Life Easier

This is a list of things I do daily to help make my life easier. Between work, school, kids, and life - it gets crazy around here. If you're already doing them, great! If not - try it out!

  1. Go to bed with no dishes in the sink. I hate waking up in the morning knowing I have dishes to do. It's just one more reason for me NOT to get out of bed. Even if you have to stay up just 10 minutes later at night, trust me that you'll feel better about it in the morning. Yes I have a dishwasher, but I do hand wash a lot of things and always rinse before loading the dishwasher. 
  2. Have the kids clothes laid out the night before. This one helps save a little bit of time in the morning. Anything to make getting to the bus stop on time is a win. 
  3. Never wait until you have a full load of laundry to run the washer. You're setting yourself up for failure at this point. Folding is the worst part about laundry, folding smaller loads is much more manageable. If I waited for full loads I wouldn't need to do laundry everyday, but then I dread the massive amounts of folding that would have to be done. Instead, I choose to do smaller loads more frequently. 
  4. Prioritize. What actually needs to be done today and what can wait. Visualizing this helps a lot, so write your list down. I leave my list right on the kitchen island where it's easy to see, this helps to keep you on track. If the baby sleeps an extra long nap - do extra on the list. If things get a little crazy - just do what you can. 
  5. Clean at least one thing in each room. It might be vacuuming, dusting, or picking up laundry - do at least one a day. Some days are better than others so if you just keep up with at least one daily, you'll never be too overwhelmed. Sometimes I can get this all done in one day, but when I can't it doesn't look awful because i've kept up with it on other days. 
  6. Make lunches the night before. This goes with #2 - it just helps to make your morning run smooth. If you're a meal prepping type of person (awesome!) then you've got this one set for the week. 
  7. Purge as you go. If I open a drawer and see something I no longer need, I don't wait and say i'll clean it later - instead I take that time to get rid of it. This ultimately equals less to clean! I love getting rid of things, I usually end up throwing out about a trash bag full of things we no longer need a week. 

When I follow this list, it makes cleaning and staying organized manageable. I feel less overwhelmed each day. And if I have a bad day (feeling sick or cranky kids) and i'm not able to do any of these things? Well because I try to do things daily, missing one day isn't a big deal and doesn't create too much excess work for the next day. Are there any specific things you do to stay on top of the day to day tasks? I'm always looking for a way to make my day easier!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Why we still use natural products

We've been using natural and organic products for years, even before cancer struck our family. When you live a more natural lifestyle and actively try to avoid carcinogens (such as those in household or body care products) aren't you supposed to be in the clear? Not so much. I don't regret using natural products for all those years and still getting the cancer diagnosis. I'm happy that I can look back and know that we did what we thought was best at the time. Am I still using natural products? Of course! I still believe that exposing my kids to harmful chemicals could increase their risk of illness. Even though it didn't save us from cancer - it could save us from future problems.

Since our firstborn, Vienna, was about 3 months old we decided to begin using more "natural" products. Prior to her birth we hadn't given much thought to what we used on her skin because, well, if it's sold in the store it's safe - right? Wrong. This was just the beginning of my long journey in finding safe products for my family. I started using items with the words natural on them and the ones with more green on the labels (yes, marketing won me over). After using those types of products for a while I reexamined my products again. I soon found out that the pretty green labels were just a ploy to get me to buy them because they were more "natural" therefore they were "safer". If I can't trust a brand with a green label that says natural on it - what do I look for? I learned to look beyond the label and turn the product around! On the backside I found the ingredient label. But wait, the names of the ingredients are long and I can barely pronounce them. This is how they get people. They don't expect you to know what the ingredients are or whether or not they are safe, after all we aren't all scientists. No one is looking out for us when it comes to the products on the shelves as they are NOT regulated by the FDA. Only YOU are responsible to know about the products you are using.

Environmental exposure is one of the risk factors for developing cancer. You can be exposed to cancer-causing agents through inhalation or through your skin. Once exposed - these agents have the ability to damage the DNA. This damaged and altered DNA then has the ability to become cancer. Environmental factors is something we can (mostly) be in control of, unlike the risk factors age and genetics. For example, Formaldehyde is a well known carcinogen. But did you know it is a common ingredient in household products? Yep! It can be hiding under different names as well. Why are companies allowed to do this? Because it's an unregulated market. What we can do is learn how to dissect the ingredient label - for our families sake! Then you can feel good about doing all you can to maintain healthy children. We'll look further into labels in another post. If you aren't looking at your labels already, it's time to start and get familiar with them.