It Doesn’t Get Easier

Back in January, when things weren’t going so well for Olivia at school, we made an appointment with a therapist to see if Olivia has autism on top of Cri du Chat syndrome. She went through some testing, we answered many, many questions, the school filled out forms and we just got the results this week.

She doesn’t have autism.

The label really didn’t matter to us at all. We just truly thought she might also have this dual diagnosis and wanted to make sure she was getting everything she needed.

Hearing the report was awful. I struggled to hold it together as the therapist was saying things like “severely mentally disabled” and “40 IQ” and “toddler behavior”, etc. It’s not the therapist’s fault but it’s never, ever easy to hear those words about your child. I know all of these things about Olivia, I live it every day, but seeing it on paper and hearing it out loud from a professional is a very different animal.

When we get these reports and recommendations, I always feel overwhelmed. I constantly feel like I should be doing more for Olivia. I feel as though I need to quit my job and devote myself 100% to her and what she needs. I feel like she needs more therapy, more interactions, more everything. That’s always my initial response. But then I remember a conversation Matt and I had 14 years ago when we decided it was more important for Olivia to be a kid, and for our family to be a family, rather than putting Olivia, and us, through hours of therapy and groups that may not even help her. Let me be clear, this was what we decided for our family and we are not saying it’s what you should do or judging others for how they handle their situation. We decided that Olivia being part of our regular family life and doing what she likes and wants to do was what we would focus on. She would detest going to therapy after school. In fact, she’s so stubborn, she probably wouldn’t get anything out of it because she’d be so mad she was there instead of at home with us in her pajamas. But I still feel like I should be doing more. Always.

Having a child with special needs is difficult. It just is. You think as they get older it will get easier, and in some ways it does, but in so many ways it gets harder. The reality of their diagnosis and what their life is like really sets in. The reality of the fact that you don’t get a break, that you can’t fix it, that she won’t outgrow it really sets in. The reality of life after high school, of trying to fit into the community in some way really sets in.

One really awesome thing that came out of meeting with this therapist was that she is well-known for her behavior therapies including potty training kids with special needs. She feels there is no reason why Olivia can’t be successful at potty training. We have thought this for years but can’t seem to find the right “system” that works for Olivia. We are so hopeful that this behavior training will finally be the one that works for Olivia. Fingers crossed!

To all of you out there who have kids with special needs, know that I get it. It’s never easy to hear those reports describe your child who you love so fiercely. I remind myself that she is my Olivia and she is perfect in her own way and, most importantly, she is so very happy and loved.

Cancer Chronicles VIII: How I’m Doing

I’m getting really frustrated when well-meaning people think I’m done with treatment just because I’m done with the really bad weekly chemo. My husband is even one of those people! I am far from done and right now I’m really struggling with the long road ahead. March 2016 seems SO FAR away and that’s not even the end, really. But it’s the finish line I’m focusing on for now.

I started daily radiation this week. It’s a giant pain in the ass but my symptoms haven’t been too bad yet. Most of the time your symptoms don’t reveal themselves for a couple of weeks. I’m tired (what else is new?) and I’m a little sore in the area that’s getting treatment. Not too bad and not sick like I have the flu which is a blessing. But it’s still a giant pain to go to the hospital every single day at 8:30 a.m. and get scorched. I’m very thankful I’m able to have this done over the summer because I think I’d lose my mind if I had to go teach all day and then go to the hospital for treatment each day. Silver linings, right? Three down and 18 to go!

I had my first every-three-week chemo last week. It wasn’t bad at all. I was definitely exhausted the day of and the day after, but not sick which was good. I have approximately 14 of those left.

Unfortunately, because I was so overwhelmed with paperwork and info at the beginning, my genetics testing was forgotten about and now I can’t get in to see that doctor until September. It is very unlikely that I have the gene that causes breast cancer, but then again it’s rare that I have cancer in the first place! So I’m having the test. If it comes back positive, that will mean more surgery and worry for Olivia. I’m not even worrying about that for now. Or I should say I’m trying not to worry about that for now.

There are so many appointments it’s ridiculous. I don’t even want to go to the dentist because it’s one more flipping appointment to go to.

I’m basically in chemically-induced menopause and it sucks. There’s no other way to say it. I was already up 10 lbs. over where I like to be when I started all of this nonsense (thank you stress!) and now, thanks to chemo and menopause, I’ve gained another 10 lbs. Those who know me know I’m freaking out right now, right? I’ve been working out and eating super healthy and…haven’t lost an ounce. Matt’s new hashtag for me is #yourbodyholdsontocalorieslikeamotherfucker and it’s fitting. It makes me laugh too, which I need right now. I’m bald and fat and feeling really awesome (that’s the sarcasm font in case you don’t have that on your computer). The last six months have just been a ball of fun. I get online to look up if what is happening is normal…because who the hell GAINS weight on chemo when you’re basically sick all the time and not eating? Turns out it’s very normal. And, according to a lot of people online, it only gets worse when you add in the Tamoxifen that I’ll be taking for the next 5-10 years. But I’m trying not to freak out. At least I won’t be bald forever…

I feel like an asshole because I should just be thankful that they caught it early and my prognosis is good. And I am thankful. Thankful and frustrated.

Can you tell I’m tired and frustrated and just want to be back to normal? I’m starting to feel like that Tiffany is gone and this new one is who I’m stuck with. Luckily, even though this one is fat and bald, she’s still smiling and trying to find the joy and positive in each and every day. I guess that will have to do for now.

More Summer Reads!

I’ve been loving being able to read so many books this summer. It has always been my love and favorite way to spend time…and it still is today! I can remember so vividly going to the library as a kid and picking out new books to read. When we moved to Sylvania from Dundee, I couldn’t believe how big and fancy the library was!! It was super exciting. I still love going to the library and getting a new book. It’s one of Olivia’s favorite things to do too.

The Next Time You See Me by Holly Goddard Jones

This was a great book. I read it quickly and couldn’t wait to get back to it when I was doing other things. That’s the sign of a great book, right? It’s the story of Susanna, a mother and unhappy wife, whose wild sister, Ronnie, goes missing in their small town. The author does a fantastic job of weaving a bevy of subplots together into this one major plot. Susanna is the main character and is joined by Tony, a detective and former crush of Susanna’s in high school; Ronnie, the wild sister who has gone missing; Emily, Susanna’s 13-year-old student who finds herself in the middle of this mess; Christopher, the new boy in town who is connected to Emily; Wyatt, the aging blue collar worker who gets pranked by his younger coworkers and Sarah, the nurse who falls in love with Wyatt. The main plot is not anything extraordinary but the subplots and the connection between all of the characters is what makes the story so good.

Found by Harlan Coben

This is book three in the Mickey Bolitar YA series by Coben. I worship Coben and always enjoy his books. I really enjoy YA novels too and this series is fantastic. I would definitely start with book one and two or else you’ll be very confused! This time around Mickey, Ema, Spoon and Rachel are trying to figure out if Mickey’s Dad is indeed still alive, while trying to figure out the connection between the bullies on Mickey’s basketball team and Ema’s new online boyfriend. The story is exciting and the ending is perfect! It left you wanting more and here’s hoping Coben doesn’t take too long to write the next one!

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

I have so many books on my Pinterest page (which is where I keep track of all of the books I want to read) that I can’t even remember where I heard about them in the first place. This is one of those books. It was so unique and thrilling and kind of gruesome and I loved it. The main premise is that there is a time-traveling serial killer of women and one of his victims lived and is trying to solve her case. Sounds crazy, right? It’s not! The author did such a great job of telling the story that it isn’t weird or confusing at all. At least not to me. Kirby is the only survivor of Harper’s multi-generational killing spree. She is now a journalism student who is trying to solve her own almost-murder. She finds strange clues that suggest her killer is connected to murders from decades ago…but how can that be? I love finding books that are original because I’ve read so many books that sometimes I can figure them out pretty easily and get bored. This is definitely unique! It’s a little scary and gruesome so maybe save it for when you’re not alone.

The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison

This book is short which is one of the reasons why I finished it. It was one of those books that you keep reading because you think something’s going to happen…and then nothing really happens. But the marriage of Jodi and Todd, which is the main focus of the book, is oddly fascinating because it’s so twisted and messed up, but at the same time you understand that it works for the two of them. Todd is a habitual philanderer and Jodi knows it. She’s almost OK with it in a way. She is a part-time therapist and enjoys the life Todd provides. When Todd gets involved with a much younger woman in a serious way, Jodi decides she’s had enough. I made my BFF read it to see what she thought and she felt the same way. The book was intriguing, and you wanted to finish it, but the ending was so anti-climactic. I’m going to say pass on this one.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

I loved, loved, loved Green’s book, The Fault in Our Stars, and wanted to read the rest of his books but forgot about them until I saw this one on the shelf at the library. I will never understand how Green can write so well as a teenager, as a girl, as so many different characters all at once and do it so genuinely. His character development is so good too. You really start to care about each one. It’s fascinating to me. This story follows Miles, a.k.a. Pudge, as he begins a new adventure at a boarding school. He desires the “next great perhaps” and, after being ostracized at his current school, decides his father’s alma mater is the place to be. His roommate, the Colonel, proves to be a wonderful friend and partner in crime. Alaska is the stunning girl across the hall who steals Pudge’s heart. The chapters are titled “100 days before”, “80 days before”, etc., so you know it is leading up to some major event. I can’t tell you what it is without spoiling it! It’s really very good. Green captures the teenage mind and angst and confusion perfectly.

Right now I’m reading a Kindle freebie, Crooked Little Lies, and I find myself skimming a lot. Bummer. Next up is Finders Keepers by Stephen King. What are you reading?

Happy This Week

My BFF and I and the kids hung out in the sun and swam all day on Monday. It has been raining and raining and raining here in Ohio so it was nice to enjoy the sun!

We went out on the boat with Matt’s parents last weekend. It was a treat!

Matt and I went out on a date on Saturday. We saw Jurassic World. We hadn’t been on a date in a while so it was so nice to spend time together. Thanks, Mom, for babysitting!

I started radiation this week. It hasn’t been too bad. I’m so thankful that I’m able to do it over the summer because it would be a pain to do this during the school year every day. They have it down to a science so I’m in and out within 20 minutes! 3 down, 18 to go!

I had a great conversation with my dear friend, Sarah. Sometimes the student becomes the master, right Sarah? She’s pregnant and just found out she’s having girl this week!! I guessed correctly!

Gabe’s 5th grade teacher brought us dinner this week. It was delicious!

I received a card from the kids’ elementary school counselor this week that absolutely made my day! It’s so nice to get those treats in the mail. Thanks, Pam!

We went swimming last weekend at my friend Robin’s house. She’s been so generous to let us swim whenever we want. We’ve been really trying to soak up the sun whenever it’s out!

I finished another great book!

I promise to blog more next week…I’ve got lots of posts in my head! ;)

What made you happy this week?

Happy This Week

I can’t believe it’s 4th of July this weekend! We are watching fireworks with friends and having family over for a cookout. What are you doing for the 4th?

I read two more really good books this week. I’ll have a book post up next week, I promise!

I started (continued?) my next round of chemo and was able to get one step closer to being finished. Only 14 more chemos to go! And radiation, of course! That will, hopefully, start next week. This round wasn’t too bad. I was just really tired after. I can handle that!

Our house is getting closer to being finished. We’re almost on to the really fun part…decorating!

Olivia had another great week at school!

Matthew has been an angel this summer. He is so sweet and easy going. It’s nice to have one non-teenager in the house!

Olivia and I went out to dinner on Monday to celebrate her friend’s birthday. Four of my favorite friends were there too so it was a fun night!

My friend, Cynthia, brought us a delicious dinner!

After chemo, I had lunch with one of my dear friends, Lynn, who I don’t get to see very often. It was so nice to sit and chat for a bit.

My BFF and I have golf widows’ night every Thursday and it’s my favorite night of the week!

What made you happy this week?

Happy This Week

I know, I know…it’s late! But better late than never, right?

We had wonderful dinners delivered by my friends Janice and Misty. It was so nice because I started radiation planning last week. My friend, Janice, was visiting from out of town and was able to stay for a bit and chat. It was so nice to catch up! She’s so easy to talk to and one of those people you can just pick up where you left off. I love that!

My BFF was back from vacation! We worked out together and had our weekly golf night. I’m so glad she and her family are home!

Seinfeld on Hulu! Man, I love that show.

Matthew was at day camp this week, Gabe was at work and Olivia was at school. Matt and I were able to have a couple of “dates” during the day. Exciting ones like getting Starbucks and going to Lowe’s! But, hey, it was just the two of us!

I’ve been reading like a crazy woman and I love it. I’ll share which ones this week.

Matt is done painting and is now working on the staircase. He took up the carpet and is staining and painting the stairs. It’s going to look gorgeous! Our new furniture should be here soon and then we can decorate. I’m so excited to have our downstairs and our basement just the way we want it!

We went to Kings Island and the Serpent Mound this weekend. It was nice to get away for a couple of days and have fun.

What made you happy last week?

What I’ve Been Reading

I just realized I haven’t posted about books since April! I’m not sure I can remember everything I’ve read since then, but I’ll try!

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

This was a very long book. Very. I enjoyed it but not as much as some of my friends who really love this series. It’s a love story and a time travel book all in one. It’s set in the Scottish Highlands which was also interesting. There’s lots of historical details too. I think I’d like it better when my brain isn’t so fuzzy so I might give it another try later when the chemo gets totally out of my brain!

Gone by James Patterson

I’m about done with James Patterson. I read his books because I’ve loved him for so long, but lately I’ve been so disappointed. I feel like his books are especially mediocre when he writes with a partner. Anyone else feel this way? This is in the Detective Michael Bennett series. His family is in hiding in California because Bennett put away a major drug cartel leader and then the leader escaped and is now after his family. It sounds good, but I skimmed most of it because it was boring. None of that Patterson suspense and excitement here. Skip it.

Burn by James Patterson

This book follows Gone and focuses on Bennett and his family after they return from California. This was way better than Gone, but still not great. It follows several different stories that all tie together in the end: jewelry thieves, cannibals and Bennett’s new position within NYPD. It was decent but not great. I also dislike how Patterson has started ending his books so abruptly lately. Sometimes that can be effective, but not here.

Gathering Prey by John Sanford

Sanford is another one of my favorite authors. I love his Lucas Davenport novels and this one did not disappoint. Lucas after a tribe of serial killers after his daughter, Letty, befriends a “traveler” while at college in California. These are really crazy killers. The adventure takes them from Minnesota to Wisconsin to Michigan as they track down and try to stop this group. It was very action-packed and very typical (in a good way) of Sanford’s Prey novels. If you like his books, you’ll enjoy this one.

Die Again by Tess Gerritsen

This is in the Rizzoli and Isles series, if you’ve ever read those before. Rizzoli and Isles are trying to solve a bizarre murder involving rare African animals and a renowned big game hunter and taxidermist. It alternates back and forth between the detectives and the survival story of a woman on safari six years prior. Gerritsen brilliantly weaves these two stories together and they come together in an unexpected ending. I haven’t read all of the Rizzoli and Isles books (only two actually) so this is definitely a stand-alone novel. I am terrified of animals so that added another layer of suspense for me! It’s suspenseful and a fast read. I loved it!

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

I loved Gone Girl and was definitely willing to give another Flynn book a try. It did not disappoint. It was awesome! The main character, Libby Day, is a survivor of her family’s massacre. She testified, at 7 years old, that her brother was the murderer. It is now 25 years later and a the “Kill Club” wants Libby to reinvestigate the case as they think her brother is innocent. Libby is a hot mess and needs money so she agrees to do it as long as they pay her. She discovers the truth and that’s all I can say! It is a very good book with lots of twists and turns and excitement.

What have your read lately?

Happy This Week

I’m starting to feel better and stronger each day. It’s such a wonderful feeling. Matt said he feels like he has his wife back and Matthew looked at me and said “You’re feeling better, aren’t you, Mom?” Makes me SO happy!

Matt and I went running together! I did a 5K with only stopping to walk for about a minute three times. It felt good to do it even though it was hard! I also lifted weights this week!!! Very light, but still! It’s really helping my emotional state to be back working out on the path to how hard I used to work out. I’m hoping to be back in shape by the time school starts. Fingers crossed I can continue through radiation treatments.

I had a Groupon for a mani and pedi and was able to get that done this week now that I didn’t have to fret too much about my white blood cell counts. The salon wasn’t that nice (Groupon!) but the girl did a good job.

I finished three books this week. New book review post up next week, I promise.

We are redecorating our first floor and Matt has been a painting machine. (I’m not allowed to paint…) I’m so excited to get it finished and get our new furniture and have the first floor just how we want it.

Olivia started summer school this week and she did GREAT. She loved it and didn’t really have too many issues. I’m so proud of her!

My dear friend, Kim, came over and hung out with me last night. We had a glass of wine (something else I haven’t done in 6 months!) and ate dinner and talked. It was heavenly! She brought me the most beautiful flowers too.

We had delicious dinners this week from Kim and my friend Nancy. So good and they definitely spoiled us!

I got a sweet card from one of my former students that absolutely made my day.

Gabe and Matthew had soccer and basketball camps this week. They had fun!

Gabe started his job this week and did really well. We are so proud of him for working for a few weeks this summer!

Matt and I are going to a Disco Party tonight! I am so thankful that I feel good enough to go. My wonderful friend, Robin, is hosting a pre-party and we’re going with them. It’s going to be so fun!

What made you happy this week?

Happy This Week

What a wonderful week it has been!!! I received my last Taxol chemo treatment!!! 12 weeks of hell is over!!! It’s been six months since all of this started and sometimes it feels like yesterday, other times it seems much longer. All I know is I’m happy to have surgery and my first round of chemo behind me!! Radiation and the rest of my chemo starts the first week in July. But that chemo is no big deal compared to the Taxol.

My friend, Michelle, decorated my driveway and had a group of family and friends there to celebrate when I got home from my last treatment. They covered me in silly string! It was fun and so sweet.

Follow me on Instagram to see all of my pics: elastamom417!

Matt and I went out for a celebratory breakfast after my last treatment. I’m so glad he was with me for the last one and we were able to celebrate. He’s my rock.

My BFF got me the most beautiful charm bracelet to celebrate as well. It has good luck charms on it: a pearl, a four-leaf clover and an elephant with its trunk up. It’s gorgeous!

We had wonderful dinners again last week and this week from my friends Nicki and Pam. So delicious! I am looking forward to cooking again but will miss being spoiled by my wonderful friends!

My husband started his golf league again which means golf nights each week with my BFF! I love that our kids get along so well and we all look forward to it each week.

I have peach fuzz on my head!!!! I’m so excited. It’s not much, but it’s a glimmer of hope that my hair will be back soon.

Matt and I went out for a rare afternoon date (so nice to have a 13-year-old in the house!) and bought furniture. We are redoing are downstairs finally! We’ve lived in our house for almost 6 years and it was time for an update. I’m so excited to paint and redecorate. Our home is really our haven and I want it to feel that way all through the house.

Gabe has a girlfriend. A true girlfriend. It’s the cutest and it’s also weird. I don’t feel old enough to have a son who has a girlfriend. I was very proud of him…he asked her to be his girlfriend in person! Not a text! They’ve been hanging out in a group and texting constantly. It’s very sweet. He’s very happy. She’s adorable and sweet.

Matt and I rented This is 40 from the library and laughed our asses off. We’ve seen it before but it’s been a while and I’d forgotten how funny it is. I need to have this one for my collection!

Orange is the New Black season 3 is on!!! I just re-watched season 2 and couldn’t wait for the new one. Love this show. I love the back stories on all of the inmates.

Matthew and Gabe both made their respective travel soccer teams. We are so proud of them! It’s Matthew’s first time playing travel and I’m anxious to see how it goes. Both of my boys really love soccer. We do too!

What made you happy this week?

The Grossest Poop Story Ever Told

Because it’s summer…and I love this story…and it makes me laugh!

The water in our Maine campground was so warm that it felt like a bathtub. Olivia has a really difficult time pooping…unless she’s in really warm water. She often poops in the bathtub at home because she’s so relaxed. Luckily, we have these really awesome washable swim diapers that hold everything in. And she wears two.

But still.

The first three days she pooped right as we were getting ready to head back to our camper. So we’d head back plop her in our tiny little camper bathtub and clean her up. The worst part about those washable diapers is that they don’t rip on the sides…you have to pull them down like underwear. So poop goes everywhere. It’s disgusting.

The fourth day we were there, we had just arrived to swim and Matt looked at me and said “Either Olivia just pooped or she grew testicles.” I looked and, sure enough, there was something poking out of her suit. We had just gotten there! Matt said it looked hard so just take her to the campground bathroom that was just a few feet away. “It shouldn’t be too messy if we can see it, right?” he said.

I trudge her over to the campground bathroom, get her into the stall and see what we’ve got. Let me just tell you that shit was everywhere. It wasn’t just the one we could see. It was all over the seat, the sides of the toilet, Olivia and the floor. And of course the floor was wet because swimmers were coming in wet and using it all day so the poop just spread.


I was in a total panic. Someone was going to come in and see this and freak out and send us home to Ohio. I just knew it! I’m frantically trying to figure out how to clean this shit up. And what on Earth am I supposed to do with Olivia? Luckily there was also a shower in this bathroom, so I picked up my gorgeous, shit-covered daughter and put her in the shower. Luckily, she loves the shower and so she sat there nicely and kept telling me happily, “The water is SOOOOOO warm!”

Meanwhile, I’m looking around trying to figure out how to clean this up. Thank goodness the bathroom had paper towels and not just those hand drying machines. I grab the paper towels that are the consistency of a tissue and start mopping up all the poop on the floor. Because I’m in such a panic, I’m not thinking clearly, so I’m just mopping up and throwing my discarded towels in the toilet.


As I’m walking over to get more paper towels about halfway through the clean-up, because the floor is wet and shit-covered and I’m wearing flip-flops, I fall and do the splits. On the public bathroom, shit-covered floor. It was one of those moments where you feel like you just want to either burst into tears or into Tom Hanks’ Money Pit laugh. I did neither. I got up and finished cleaning up.

I finally stop to take a breath and in walks a fellow camper. I say “Don’t go in that first stall! My daughter had an accident and I’m still cleaning it up!!!” She smiles and says “Oh boy. I’ve been there!” and because I’m beside myself I think “I bet it wasn’t an 11-year-old’s poop though!”

Big difference.

So after I collect myself for a second, I realize what I’ve done. I’ve put about 50 paper towels in the toilet. Obviously, it’s not going to flush. I’m so embarrassed that I don’t even think for a second to just go tell the campground people what happened. In my state, I am convinced we’re going to be banned from the pool and possibly even the campground.

So I reach in.

I take clump after clump of shit covered paper towels and dump them in the garbage. Which of course makes another mess all over the floor that I have to clean up. I finally breathe a sigh of relief, wash my hands for twenty minutes in scalding hot water, and go back to the toilet to flush it.

But guess what? The turd that looked like testicles? It’s so big it won’t flush down.

At this point I’ve invested so much time and energy and lost all of my pride, that I’m not going to give up now. So I reach in, break it up, and flush it down.

I know.

I scald my hands and wash furiously again but I don’t think at this point I’ll ever feel clean again.

I wash Olivia’s diapers and suit out and her body, get her all put back together, collect myself and head back to the pool.

We walk back to the water, Olivia jumps in happily and Matt looks at me and says…

“What took you so long?”