Spirit Animal

The power of a spirit animal is meant to depict  a member of the animal kingdom that embodies and conveys your natural, wild soul.  It also happens to be mentioned in a show Kelsey has been fond of recently.  The title is Alexa and Katie and the series depicts two best friends, one battling cancer as a teenager.  The show actually helps Kelsey feel better as she watches the struggles of these fictional characters.  Though they are in High School, Kelsey finds a connection in each episode.

Thus, when we walked into Build A Bear for a birthday party recently, the struggle to select a furry companion was real.  She contemplated and debated.  She paced and wandered.  She almost selected the colorful, rainbow bear like most of the other girls.  And then, she saw the one.

The rainbow tailed unicorn, dressed in an ice cream dress was named Addison after the main character of Zombies.  Before bed on the night we brought her home, Kelsey shared that Addison was, in fact, her spirit animal.  She claimed that the free spirit and colorful tail of her new furry friend was indeed how she feels inside.  Addison was “channeling her inner self.”

Unbelievable, I thought.

Though her imagination astounds me, I truly see the reflection.

UR SO Generous

When Anthony Urso and the Almoras join forces for a Pop Up charity event to celebrate Chicago the Chicago Cubs all while supporting Kelsey’s Kaleidoscope, Inc., the president jumps on a plane to attend the festivities.

We cannot thank Anthony Urso enough along with Albert and Krystal Almora for their support and generosity.

The clothing is incredible, the company is fantastic, and the support was overwhelming.

Thank you is not enough, but it will have to do for now

Anthony Rizzo, Albert Almora, Jr, and Krystal Almora pose with President, Mary Wagner, and Elizabeth Gregorio.

Anthony URSO family

Anthony Urso and President, Mary Wagner.

Whatever It Takes

Picture a day of quality time in the happiest place on Earth.  You see smiling faces and a little bit of magic awaits you around every corner.

As grateful and happy as I was to spend time in this land of happiness, I could not escape a hint of sadness as my seven year old could not take it.  Sensory sensitivity is becoming apparent in various ways and there was certainly a great deal of that happening at every turn.

The standing, the walking, and the lines were just too much for her to take.

Though she looked the part in every way, her body told her it was on overload.  We found many magical things to do while waiting for her brother to ride and explore with sheer delight.  We took a much slower pace and took many breaks.  While we waited, Make a Wish kids and others who were also facing a challenge passed by us.  For those children and my own daughter, I struggled at times to face a cold, hard fact.  My child could not experience this trip like many other children her age do.

Her legs could not handle the walking and the weight of her on my back more times than expected was just a realization that careful considerations and thought must go into every thing for Kelsey; happy times included.

In the end, she found  a heroine in Star Wars’ Rey and there was one souvenir she just had to have.  Holding her father’s hand at a point when she felt strong and confident, she strolled with pride.

In this moment, I was happy.  She is a warrior and for her, I will do:

“Whatever it takes
You take me to the top, I’m ready for
Whatever it takes,” Imagine Dragons, Whatever It Takes

Whatever It Takes. For you.  Always.

Mothers

Typically in the moments after giving my child a needle of life-saving medication, I dash upstairs both to run away from the nauseous feeling in the the pit of my stomach and to block out the shrieks of pain caused by my injection.  I usually put on my jewelry for the day and take a moment to breathe.  It’s our routine, and we all try our best to make it “ok.”

When Kelsey chose me to inject the medication, I did not think I could handle it.  Though we were both trained, my husband started the process first and seemed so much more competent and strong than I thought I could be as he injected.  I was the comfort and that role suited me fine.

Today’s injection was a particularly tough one.  In truth, perhaps they all are, but I often run away instead of having a moment to reflect on it.  As I sit to find strength in the joy of laughter now surrounding me, Kelsey comes over to me.

She sees my face and touches my cheeks with her hands.  She says, “Mom don’t be sad that you hurt me.  You did hurt me today, but I know you love me and that’s why.  You just want me to feel better.  Ok?  It’s OK Mom.”

OK?  Is it?  The truth is, it is not really OK.  It is not really OK because my child’s presence to offer me calm is the reverse of what should happen.  Her gentle smile and sweet touch leave me with no choice but to smile back at her.

As any mother knows, when your child asks for you, there you are.   Those are moments when inner strength and pure love take over without knowing how you do it.  You just do it.  You find a way to be ok.

Mothers, I want to thank you for all that you do.  I would like to thank my mother especially because there are many things she “just does” now and those that she always has.  During times when I am not sure how I have made it through a rough day, week month, or year, I sit back and think, I did it because I am her daughter.

I hope someday, when a cure is found and my daughter is thriving, she will look back and see a reflection of all of her strength, all of her courage, and all that she has done in her life to help me be OK.


Help us with this cause by supporting our Designer Bag Bingo.

4/5/18 – St. Charles Borromeo Church Hall – 7:00 PM

Toothpaste Suspicions Prove True

Toothpaste suspicions were accurate.  Something inside was brewing.  My son and I knew it through out unspoken bond.

The irony is that we had a well visit scheduled for that evening.  I was happy to have a set of professional eyes on Kelsey to assure all was well.  All seemed well so my fears were squelched.

That was until 2:00 AM when a child awoke agonizing in pain.  It was her ear. It went on until 6:00 AM when I could provide another dose of a medicine that I hoped would do the trick.   My choice in the middle of the night did anything but the trick and the pain just grew at a steady pace.

In those moments, though an ear infection seems to have developed over night, the mind still drifts.  The worry increases as do the screams of pain.  You hope the morning will bring her relief.  You hope your family will have a sense of relief, too.

It was only an ear infection, thankfully.  Four days later, the pain finally dissipated.   A few days of medication left, you hope that will be the end.

Toothpaste

When rain turns to snow and your husband leaves an hour earlier than usual for work, the day starts off interestingly.
The dog wants no parts of a walk nor do you have an umbrella handy.  You want to make the best of the morning.
You sing a few of your favorite songs with your kids over breakfast and you talk about what fun awaits them today.
You worry about a cough Kelsey has developed.  You do not like the way her eyes look.  You don’t want to say aloud the worry you have every day, but feel acutely today.
You all head upstairs to brush your teeth when fighting ensues in the bathroom.  They are concerned about toothpaste.  They are mad about the duration of each other’s brushing.
When you question your son about the rationale for being upset, he says it is because Kelsey is not brushing her teeth long enough.  I always tell the kids how important dental health is to overall health, and we have been working very hard to help Kelsey care for her teeth independently.
Perhaps it is more than that, though, and perhaps that acute worry of yours is coming off in a way you cannot realize.
You hug your son and thank him for his concern.  You hug your daughter and pray the day goes well.
You hope the weight of the worry will not stick like the snow causing uncertain travels on the roads ahead.

Venom

Field trips are a time for fun and discovery in elementary school.  Kelsey went on her field trip today and her father was able to accompany her.  He was proud to share the day with her.

Throughout the day, I received pictures and updates of the excitement.  They had a wonderful time.

One memory from the day stuck out regarding inquiry and discovery.

The curiosity of snake venom led to a discussion with a museum employee.  The knowledgeable exhibitor shared the common and less known uses of snake venom.  It has led to scientific breakthroughs and enhances medication.

Kelsey looked inquisitively at her father after hearing these words and said, “Dad, snake venom helps make medicine.  Did you hear that?”

“Yes.  Very cool,” he replied.

“Snakes might help me with my disease someday?  What do you think?”

A girl can dream…

Snakes… though I know little about them, I hope we can do better than venom.


Designer Bag Bingo ~ April 5, 2018

St. Charles Borromeo Church Hall * 175 Stagecoach Rd.* Sicklerville, NJ 08081

7:00 PM (Doors open at 6:00 PM)

$30 for 10 games, Raffle for baskets

Translation

With much happening and yet nothing all at once, I smile and log on to Facebook.

I am sad to read about another diagnosis across the ocean in Italy, but I am in awe that her words in Italian were translated for me in English.  Unfortunately, the disease keeps spreading as does its global awareness.  Language and cultures are neither a barrier nor a shield.

Our medical advisement can vary state to state, region to region, and continent to continent.  However, our mission remains the same.

We are lucky to connect with one another patient on a global scale, but our message should remain consistent and clear.

Tonight, I will sleep well knowing that more cases and more children are being evaluated, treated, and diagnosed.

Now… we continue to search for more wisdom and effective solutions to assure a better tomorrow for us all.  Italian, French, English, American, and everywhere in between, we are hear and we are working hard.

Translation = Gratitude


Save the Date!

April 5, 2018

Designer Bag Bingo

If you bring your daughter…

If you bring your daughter to your office,

you will feel guilty.

You will want to make it up to her,

though she will happily explore the space.

If you bring your daughter to your office,

you will smile the next morning

when you read when she left for you to see.

If you bring your daughter to your office,

you will feel grateful that you did.

You will marvel at her thoughts.

You will savor the sweetness.

You will feel gratitude.

Spread kindness.  Spread happiness.  Spread love.

My Valentine

Though my girl steals my heart on a daily basis, I must admit that my son stole my heart on the day he was born.

He is serious.  Though he is more reserved with his feelings than I, he quietly displays kindness, care, and thoughtfulness when you least expect it.  His emotional caution makes me question my parental choices, and I always try to figure out what that handsome face is thinking.

He recently logged into his school account to submit an assignment.  Though the task he logged in to create and submit was incredible, my heart broke a bit reading through his writing.

He always makes me proud, and I hope I tell him that enough.  However, reading his free choice writing made me feel disappointed for my son and what he quietly endures.  The two times he was asked to select a free choice narrative this year, he wrote about his sister and her disease.  Of all of the topics and all of his options, he chose her.

His first writing was about the remarkable softball tournament the Britto Agency hosted in September.  He wrote about all of the people who attended, the low skill set of our team, and the money we raised for Kelsey’s Kaleidoscope, Inc.  He wrote about having fun.

In the second task, he described the day his sister was born.  He wondered if he would ever be special again when he saw the attention she received.  He discussed his sister’s disease, her hospital stays, and how the entire process is difficult for him at times.  He assured me he feels special and that was just how he felt back then, and I will work harder every day ahead to assure that is the truth.

He is my heart, he is special, and today he is my Valentine.