All I Want For Christmas…

Credit: LTC Photography
Credit: LTC Photography

So even though I am definitely a summer girl at heart, Christmas is absolutely one of my favourite times of year. It’s the lead up to Christmas I love best (although, and retail industry take note, I do not want the lead up to start in September, I hate walking into a store and seeing Halloween decorations on one side and gorgeous Christmas trees on the other and Thanksgiving thrown somewhere in the middle – let’s focus on one holiday at a time please.)

I know that Christmas isn’t all warm fuzzies for everyone. Many people find it the saddest, most stressful and depressing time of year. I do understand. After the Christmas season I always fall a little flat. So much build up and then it’s over. Then it’s just WINTER, blech. What is there to look forward to? Winter is so unbearably long and spring seems so very far away. Everyone just hunkers down for winter and hibernates because it’s so bloody cold out. It can be a very lonely time of year.

Credit: LTC Photography
Credit: LTC Photography

There’s something so magical about Christmas and seeing children’s excitement, that makes me wish I still believed in Santa. Like, really believe. And I love all the scents of cinnamon, pine tree, Christmas baking, the festive music, and decorating the house. Even that little bastard, Elf on the shelf is back but the kids are so excited about searching for him that I can’t hate him. Gigi is only three and I can’t believe she remembered his name: “Catcher Bean”, don’t ask, I have no idea. We don’t go in for all the “ooh, the elf is watching you and reporting back to Santa all the naughty things you do. Heck, there’s so much “naughtiness” in this house, Santa would probably just bypass it and not even bother leaving us coal. The most magnificent thing of all is of course, The Tree. I love hanging up the special ornaments that have so much meaning. Many moons ago, my husband proposed to me on New Years Eve, by sneaking an ornament on the tree at my parents house, and then asked me to show him which ornaments were mine. I noticed one I’d never seen before and when I spun it around I saw that it said “Will you marry me?” Yes!, Yes, a thousand times yes.

I love the things that are quintessentially Christmas, the traditions that have been done year after year. At first it was a little hard to let go of all the treats laden with gluten, sugar and dairy that we can no longer have. They give me such good memories of Christmas with family. But it’s amazing how easy it is to make new traditions – to find safe, and even more delicious, alternatives for those old favourites… I am so thankful for all those who have travelled this road before us and come up with fabulous recipes.

Credit: Beverly Ruso Photgraphy
Credit: Beverly Ruso Photgraphy

We finished decorating our trees around American Thanksgiving (one big, one little, one with white lights and one with the coloured ones the kids adore… the “fancy” tree and the kids tree.) I’m a little afraid of Panda destroying the Christmas tree in one of his rages. And of course, neither one of the kids can stop touching the ornaments. Hopefully the novelty wears off soon. My favourite thing to do at this time of year is sit quietly at night with all the lights off and just admire the beautiful tree. How magical and serene the room looks with only the glow of twinkling Christmas lights. It’s a good time to reflect on your Christmas wishes. Of course, I wish for health and happiness, and for love to prevail over all the evil and ugliness that is in our world. But the most important one of all is the same every year – I want my happy, exuberant, healthy little boy back. I want a world where PANDAS/PANS and Lyme disease don’t exist. It’s really not too much to ask, right? But I am under no illusions, this is one Christmas wish that won’t come true, no matter how good (or mostly good) I’ve been. And PANDAS doesn’t care if it’s Christmas. It will rear it’s ugly head any time. And last year it was a full moon on Christmas Day (possibly even a Supermoon, I can’t remember for sure) – well, that’s just mean.

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While we try to hold it all together, we will do whatever we can to make this time special and magical – dance to Christmas music, read stories, watch holiday movies, drink hot chocolate (for the kids) and Spanish coffee (for mum and dad – which you have to make – check out the recipe section of my blog,) find things to laugh about, even get out of bed when we realize we’ve forgotten to move the darned Elf, or make up crap when the kids ask us why Catcher Bean didn’t move. We will create memories and traditions that hopefully will be imprinted on our children’s hearts and minds. Stupid PANDAS, I hate you, but it’s Christmas and I try to forget all about you! The other day our son said to me that the best thing about Christmas is being together. It is, my darling. How right you are! I hate PANDAS. But I love you.

Merry Christmas! Wishing you peaceful holidays!

Lots of love xo

Credit: How Wee Learn www.howweelearn.com
Credit: How Wee Learn
www.howweelearn.com

 

Spanish Coffee – Oh my!

This is hands down one of the most delicious hot boozy drinks I’ve ever had. (And this is obviously not for the kids.)

So, if you’re making it properly it’s 1 ounce each of Triple Sec, Kahlua and Brandy in a beautiful mug, but you can do half an ounce of each depending on the size of your mug (warm in the microwave for about 15 seconds.) Pour in coffee (and I always use decaf if it’s in the evening, I have enough trouble sleeping at night without any added caffeine.) STIR – this is very important otherwise you end up with all the booze at the bottom. Add whipped cream and drizzle with Kahlua.

If you want it to be extra fancy you can dip the rim of your mug in lemon juice or a little Brandy and then dip in sugar first, before adding any booze or coffee – oh so pretty, but not necessary.

Enjoy and share with friends and family!

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Is Magic Real?

Is Santa real? my friend’s 6 year old daughter asked her. Does a man really come to our house and leave presents? My friend wasn’t prepared for this question so soon. Torn between not wanting to lie to her daughter and wanting to preserve her childhood a little longer… she took a deep breath and tried to find the right words to say. Then her daughter asked, Is magic real? My friend was able to answer this with certainty – Yes, sweetheart, magic is real! There are so many amazing things that happen that are most certainly magical.¬†And this time of year is all about believing in magic and things you cannot see. (I still think it’s magical when the house is quiet and children are sleeping.)

Credit: Beverly Ruso Photography
Credit: Beverly Ruso Photography

We so badly need some magic here. Our panda bear has been in a flare since he got some kind of infection at the end of October. He was given antibiotics for only 5 days. He took the first dose in the evening and by morning it was a complete transformation. When he woke up he was the happy, delightful child we miss so much. (When I look at these baby pictures of him and remember how he was before PANDAS, it makes my heart shatter.) Sadly, this transformation didn’t last long and his OCD, rage, emotional outbursts and other PANDAS symptoms got progressively worse. We are all really struggling. We contacted his PANDAS Doctor and she started him on a different antibiotic. So far we haven’t seen any improvement with this one, but she will switch to a different antibiotic if there isn’t any change soon.

Our son has always done so well holding it together at school, almost frustratingly so. I am really grateful that he does so well at school, but it’s hard because for the most part teachers have always said how wonderful he is. They don’t see his symptoms, except for a bit of OCD. So yesterday I asked his teacher how he has been for the past few weeks and it surprised me that she has actually noticed a change in his behaviour: he’s been incredibly slow to do anything, annoying kids he likes, and even swearing one day. Which he doesn’t even really do at home. When I asked him about the swearing he said it was because another kid had scratched a chunk of skin out of his hand and then he started to cry. Yep, we need some Big magic here.

Credit: Beverly Ruso Photography
Credit: Beverly Ruso Photography

Today, after my friend had told me her story about believing in magic, we were standing in our favourite bookstore trying to buy Christmas gifts discreetly while our youngest daughters played with the toys and trinkets. I love seeing my 3 year old mother my friend’s one year old – they obviously truly care about, and adore, each other. We watched my friend’s daughter totter over to another little girl and give her the toy she was playing with. The other girl reached out and hugged her. And then it was like they were speaking their own language using their hands and it reminded me of when we taught our babies sign language. Witnessing this beautiful human connection between two tiny little strangers was amazing. I nudged my friend and whispered “This is magic!” Magic can be BIG or it can be small but it’s pretty miraculous to watch if you are open to it and magic often happens when you’re not even looking for it.

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I realize that we so badly need Big magic, but I don’t want to miss out on the small magical things that are happening each day. Like the time our friend’s 9 year old daughter reached for my hand and held it when our two families were out for a walk. At first I thought maybe it was because she thought I was her mom since we have been mistaken for each other sometimes, but then she turned and spoke to her mother. When children show affection that isn’t prompted by adults it is truly magical. It makes my heart swell that this same little girl thinks I’m so calm under pressure and I can fix any problem. How sweet. I only wish it transferred to my own problems. But it’s so much easier to be calm when you’re helping other people with their problems, when you’re on the outside. She has such a beautiful and sensitive soul. I’m pretty sure she and I are kindred spirits.

When we are on the sinking ship called “A PANDAS/PANS Flare” just trying not to drown, and we’re so very tired from treading water, it’s very easy to miss the small ways magic makes itself known in our lives because we’re so busy just surviving and hoping and waiting for Big magic.

For the past few days I have been feeling so terribly sad, alone, and hopeless, wondering how long can this nightmare go on? But today, when I needed it most, I was reminded that I do believe in magic. Do you?

Lots of love xo

 

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