Monday, April 30, 2012

{life} Week in Review

Last week was my first week back to work (outside of the home) and it's been a bit of an adjustment. It's been two years since I worked outside of the home and I'm trying to get used to the routine. I'm enjoying being back to work but I miss spending more time with Kallie and Bronson. 
The past week has been busy with adjusting to new routines so I didn't take a lot of pictures or do any crafts. But, here's a few pictures...

Bronson has four upper teeth coming in all at once so he's been a write off most of the week. He's only wanted to be held and cuddled...what a week for his mama to be going back to work! 

My inlaws were watching Kallie and Bronson for us a couple of nights last week so, while they were gone, Jon and I had a much needed date night. I absolutely love East Side Mario's Sizzlin' Calamari and can never get enough of it! Yum!

Watching the swans and relaxing...

Our dog Dupree loves to rest his head on the lap of whoever is driving. He's a 75lb golden doodle and it's not exactly the safest way to drive so a while ago we bought a divider to keep him in the back. It works but he always has his nose pushed through the netting and attempts to get as close to us as possible. 
T R O U B L E!

I hope you had a great weekend! :) 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bronson's Story to Help Support #McHappyDay 2012

McDonald's McHappy Day is coming up on May 2, 2012 and proceeds from that day go towards The Ronald McDonald house. Charities like these are very important and you never know when you may be in a situation and need their help.

May 9, 2011 will never be a day that I forget. Of course I'll always remember that day because it's my son, Bronson's, birthday, but it was also the day that our lives were turned upside down and our relationship with Toronto Sick Kids (Hospital for Sick Children) began.

On May 9, 2011 our little Bronson decided that he was going to be 2.5 weeks early and made his grand entrance into our world. I didn't get to hold him when he was born because right away the doctor noticed that his stomach was very distended and started ordering tests and xrays. At eight hours old Bronson was being loaded into a helicopter with a team of doctors from Sick Kids and was airlifted to Toronto. We had decided to leave the hospital before Bronson left because we didn't want to see him being taken away. However, as we drove down the 401 all of a sudden we saw the medical helicopter with our newborn baby in it fly over our vehicle. I don't think there are words to describe how it felt seeing our baby fly away instead of being in the car with us.


Bronson was admitted to the NICU at Sick Kids and they started doing tests to try and find out what was wrong with him. At three days old I finally got to hold my baby for the very first time. It was only for an hour but I got to hold him. I wish I had known that I wouldn't able to hold him again until he was three weeks old because I wouldn't have put him down that day.

At four days old a doctor walked into the room, introduced himself and said, "I'm from oncology". I froze right there. All that went through my head was, "Did he really just say that he was from oncology? Does he have the right patient because we have a four day old baby and he certainly does not have cancer." The oncologist went on to tell us that all of the tests pointed to the diagnosis of Stage 4S Bilateral Adrenal Neuroblastoma with metastases to the liver. Bilateral Adrenal Neuroblastoma is rare, so rare that only 45 cases have ever been recorded world wide.

The very next day Bronson was being prepped to have a liver biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. While they were getting him ready he began to have severe breathing problems and had to be intubated and put on oscillatory ventilation. (Remember the episode of Grey's Anatomy where Karev's intern had a baby and he was placed on a ventilator that made him shake? That's an oscillator). 


After Bronson was intubated and things calmed down we were allowed back into the room to see him. We stood there for a few minutes just watching our baby and feeling helpless. It felt like a dream. Before we even had time to process everything that had happened we were getting more bad news. Things had just turned life threatening for Bronson and the tumor in his liver was growing very quickly (it was already 4 times the size it should be) and if he started chemotherapy right away he had a small chance of making it through the weekend. Two hours later, at only five days old, Bronson began his first round of chemotherapy.

We were told that it would take 7-10 days to see the tumors shrink from the chemo. So we waited...and waited... waited. At 17 days old the tumors were no longer growing but they also hadn't begun to shrink. We didn't think that things could get worse until we were told that Bronson had an E.Coli infection. Not only was he fighting for his life because of cancer, now he was fighting an E.Coli infection with almost no immune system because the chemo had already killed it (his white blood cell count was 0.3). Later on that day we were faced with another hard decision. The chemo wasn't working fast enough and there was a risk that the chemo wouldn't work at all. After discussing our options we made the very difficult decision to allow our 17 day old baby to go through 3 days of low dose radiation therapy. I think that's a hard decision to make for anyone but I can't even begin to describe making that decision for your newborn. There are so many unknowns and risk factors to take into consideration. But, our oncologist believed it was the best treatment and we trusted his opinion, so we went ahead with it.

3 weeks old - Holding our Baby for the second time.
For three days I walked with the NICU transport team through the underground tunnels that connect Sick Kids to Princess Margaret. I remember walking into the radiation clinic and seeing people stare at our entourage of 2 doctors, a mysteriously covered isolette with a baby inside, and me and my husband. I'm sure that our faces said enough. While talking with the radiologist I found out that, to date, Bronson was the smallest patient they had ever done radiation on. Which I am grateful for because I wouldn't want anyone else with a newborn to have to make any of the decisions that we had to make.

At 22 days old Bronson decided that enough was enough and he used his toes to pull out his catheter. He had never been able to pee by himself but as soon as that catheter came out he never had another problem peeing. At 24 days old Bronson pulled out half of his breathing tube and was switched over to CPAP. He knew it was time to get rid of it!

Things started to improve for Bronson and I even started asking when we could take him home. On June 15, 2011 we were told that Bronson's cancer levels had gone from 240 (at diagnosis) down to the high 20's. We were ecstatic with the news but, of course, then came the bad news that Bronson's liver function was very poor and was barely functioning.


Day after day we watched Bronson's colour turn more yellow as his conjugated bilirubin climbed higher and higher. It was hard to comprehend that Bronson's tumors were no longer a concern and instead, we were facing another problem, liver failure.

June 27, 2011 is another day I will never forget. That's the day I was told that Bronson's liver was past the point of regeneration and he needed a liver transplant. The very next day Bronson's name was placed on the liver transplant waiting list as a priority 3 (4 is the highest). (If you're in Ontario and aren't already an organ donor go here to become one!)

Looking back, I honestly don't know how I held it all together. Sometimes it felt like every day was a punch in the stomach. How much can one small baby go through? But, every time I thought like that I was reminded that God was with us and he would bring us through. I didn't know what God's plan was but I knew that whatever happened was His plan. I was just praying that it would end with me bringing home my baby.

Bronson's liver failure progressed and he accumulated a lot of fluid (ascites) in his abdomen. They started doing abdominal taps every 4-5 days because the amount of fluid made it hard for him to breathe.

We waited....and waited....and waited for a call to tell us that there was a liver for Bronson.

My sister, Sarah Beth, and Bronson the day before transplant surgery.
I guess we were blessed that it was a liver that he needed because after a lot of testing my very own sister was the perfect match and was quickly cleared to undergo surgery to donate a lobe of her liver to Bronson.

There are a lot of dates that stick out in my mind but, July 22, 2012 is special because that's the day that Bronson received his new liver. Only 2.5 months old and he was already a cancer survivor and a transplant recipient. I still find it hard to wrap my head around the fact that my sister was able to save my son's life. I look at her differently now because without her we wouldn't have Bronson.

After almost four months we were finally able to bring our baby home!
One week short of turning four months old we left the hospital with our little baby for the very first time. When we walked out of that hospital it felt like we were beginning to wake up from a bad dream. Every minute that we spent wondering when we would be able to bring home our baby was finally happening.

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
Psalm 91:4 

Bronson, 11 months old.
Two weeks from now we will be celebrating Bronson's FIRST birthday and to look at him today you would have no idea what he's been through. He is a happy, healthy little boy who loves to get into anything and everything he can.

There were so many amazing charities and people who helped us out during this time so on May 2, 2012 go to a McDonalds and purchase a BigMac, Happy Meal, or hot McCafe and $1.00 will be donated to a local charity, such as The Ronald McDonald House.

To follow #McHappyDay follow on Twitter!
McHappy Day

I am participating in the McHappy Day Blogger Program by ShesConnected. A donation in my name was made to Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada in exchange for my participation in this campaign. All opinions are honest and always my own*

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bronson is 11 Months Old!

On April 9, 2012 Bronson turned 11 months old. 
Better late than never for writing his 11 month update, right? 

At 11 Months old...


Bronson is using furniture to take steps and walk around. Last week I even caught him standing without holding onto anything in the playpen but, of course, as soon as I said "Yay Bronson" he looked startled and sat down! 

He is very vocal and his normal volume is around a 10. He loves trying to copy any noises that his big sister makes. 

He's eating mostly all cut up table food. His absolute favourite food appears to be mashed potatoes but will eat almost anything that's put in front of him. Oh, but do not try and take his food away from him because he'll let you know how mad he is over it!

About a month ago I started buying size 4 diapers for him but in the last week or two I've noticed that they're falling down all the time. I figured that mean that he was growing in length all of a sudden so next time I buy diapers I'm moving him back into size 3's. 

Jon took Bronson to his appointment at Sick Kids today and his weight is up to 18.5 lbs. I'm not sure what his length was but Jon said that the nurse said that he was a lot longer than his last visit. Bronson's made a lot of progress and he's now in the 20-30th percentile! 6 months ago he wasn't even on the growth chart and just 2 months ago he was in the 3rd percentile. I might talk about his percentiles a lot but I honestly don't care that much about them because I know that his length and height have consistently been moving in the right direction. 


Whenever Bronson hears music he will almost always start clapping. I love seeing that little boy clap because it's a reminder of how far he's come and what he's accomplished!

He consistently is sleeping 10-12 hours at night. He's started to nap a little bit longer during the day which has me very excited! For the last week or two he's been napping about 1.5hrs a day! 
Simply Wonderful!

There are still only 2 bottom teeth in Bronson's mouth but I think I can see a couple of top teeth coming in. I was told that because he was malnourished for so long before his transplant (his ascites made breathing difficult which made him burn a lot more calories - remember this?) that his teeth may come in a little bit later. But, there are a lot of kids who only have 2 teeth at 11-12 months so, as far as I'm concerned, he's on schedule.

Coming up to Bronson's 1st Birthday has had me thinking about his journey. So many emotions and life changing events happened in such a short time and looking back I can't believe some of the details of what unfolded. All I know is that we're more than blessed to have him with us today. 

Our Weekend in Review

I've been looking for my camera for about a week now. For the life of me I can't remember where I put it. So, for now, it's all cell phone pictures!

Friday we went to the beach and walked around, went to the playground, and put our toes in the sand.  The warm sand felt so nice between my toes. Last summer I don't think we went to the beach once because of Bronson's hospital stay but, this year I know that we're going to be there a lot!



It really wasn't cold enough for Bronson to have all the layers on that he did. His transplant medications cause him to have a low immune system and he gets sick very easily. I think he's had a perma-cold since October/November so I've been bundling him up extra lately trying to get him over it!


I put Bronson on Kallie's bike and he loved it! He sat there for a good 20 minutes checking everything out! Typical boy!

Look at the curls on this boy! He takes after his Daddy! 
Jon always had curly hair and I loved it but, 5 years ago he lost all of his hair because of his chemotherapy treatments and it grew back straight. Oh well, at least Bronson got his curls!

Saturday was a dreary and rainy day so we stayed inside most of the day. 

We coloured...

I thought that I'd give Bronson a crayon to try out but of course it went right into his mouth! 

After colouring we went down to the basement to play. Since I no longer have daycare kids coming to my house I decided to move all of the daycare toys into the crawl space and move all of Kallie and Bronson's toys out of their rooms and into the basement. I like to keep their toys separate because I think that it's important for them to have their own things.

Then we ate a spoonful of peanut butter (except for Bronson) and drank apple juice while we watched Night at the Museum. It's still a little too old for Kallie but she liked the animals in it. 

Then for the rest of my Saturday afternoon/evening I spent time reorganizing all of my kitchen cupboards. I've been wanting to do it for a while but I think knowing that I'm going back to work this week and I won't have the time really kicked my butt into doing it. 

Once you're reading this I will be at my first day of my new job! Here we go! 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Coffee Date: My House, My Job, My Show

If you were to come over to my house for coffee today I would keep apologizing for the mess in my house. 

The day before Good Friday I wasted spent my time doing 8 loads of laundry because after being away for the weekend I didn't want to come home to a mountain of dirty clothes. I got distracted and didn't get around to folding any of it.



 I planned to fold it all Easter Monday.

 Well, as you know, we had a huge flood on Easter Monday and while the insurance clean up crew was opening up walls to dry everything out they found mould and we got booted out of our house for 5 days. 

Remember all that laundry I planned to fold? 

Well, it sat in the room next to where all the mould was so I had to rewash it all (along with another week of clothing). Now, it's all folded and ready to be put away but half of my house is gutted and all of the bedrooms and hallways have no flooring, there are holes in the walls, and furniture is everywhere. It's a disaster! So, all of that laundry is still sitting in my living room. sigh. Reno's are hopefully starting in 1-2 weeks... I'm praying that they actually start then because I need some organization here!

After my house rant I'm sure that I would tell you how excited/scared I am to start back to work on Monday. It will be nice to have adults to talk to throughout the day but I'll miss hearing Kallie sing while she's on the toilet or yell "Bieber" as soon as she hears one of his songs. I'll miss Bronson getting into everything, and always wondering how he managed to get himself stuck under a new piece of furniture. Even though I have worries I'm still excited to get back into the nursing field.


I would probably also tell you that I miss having my PVR! My PVR is currently sitting in our half gutted tv room (it's literally half gutted - one half of the room has flooring, walls, and a ceiling, and the other half has plywood flooring, no drywall on the ceiling, and half of a wall missing so you can see anyone sitting on the toilet. 
Thankfully, I've found most of my shows online this week! 

Speaking of shows, there's only one more hour until Grey's Anatomy comes on! (I started writing this Thursday night). I love that show. I have a serious addiction. 

How has your week been? 

If we were having coffee what would you tell me?

I'm linking up Here today:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's off to Work I Go.

For the past two years I've been lucky to be at home with my kids. I've been running a home daycare the entire time so I've still been working but I've been able to be with my kids every waking moment (well, except for the 4 months that Bronson was in the hospital). A couple of weeks ago I wrote in a post that was looking for a job

Well, I got one and I start this coming Monday.

source
I'm excited to get back into the nursing field but at the same time I'm a little sad to have to leave my kids everyday. 

I'm worried that Bronson will have a seizure and I won't be there to help him. 

I'm worried that Kallie will fall and hurt herself and won't have me there to kiss it better. 

I'm worried that I'll miss big milestones in both of their lives. 

But, I know that I'm blessed to have been able to see them every day for the past two years. 

This is a new chapter in our lives and, even though I have worries, I'm excited for it. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Blogger How to: Customizing Tweet Buttons to show your Twitter Handle

Today, my post is more of a "how to" for other bloggers. Almost all blogs have share buttons at the top or bottom of every post. For a while I've been trying to find out how to have my tweet button auto-populate with 'via @TheAnthonyCrew' after my blog post title and link. I think it's important to have your twitter handle at the end of a sharing tweet.

I had to cut and copy things from different websites to get exactly what I wanted so, to save you the time and hassle, I'm going to show you what to do. 

I know that blogger has built in share buttons that appear below your post but I decided to go with AddThis.com because you can log in and see the button analytics.

Install the AddThis Share Widget
  1. Go to addthis.com and you'll see different styles of share buttons. For blogger you want to click on the link under the style options that says "Blogger, Word Press, and other options"and this will bring you to a page where you can choose the platform you're using (blogger).
  2. Follow the on screen instructions to Install the Blogger Widget. (all you do is click where it tells you to!).
How to Customize your Tweet Button

     1.  On blogger go to Design, Layout, and then find the AddThis widget and click edit. 

     2.  Find the html near the top that looks like this:
          (it's circled in red above, and the numbers will be different on yours)

<script type="text/javascript">var addthis_config = {"data_track_clickback":true};</script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="http://s7.addthis.com/js/250/addthis_widget.js#pubid=ra-4da5f9431bc30dd8"></script>

      
     2.  Go to the end of the first line of text as shown above where my cursor is in this picture (after </script>) and paste this:

<script type="text/javascript">
var addthis_share = {
    templates: {
        twitter: "Your Text {{title}} {{url}} via @TheAnthonyCrew"
    }
};
</script>


     3.  Now you can change the text to what you want to show up in the tweet box. I opted not to have 
          any text appear before the post title so I just deleted "your text" (don't delete the  "  before the word  
          your). Then delete my twitter handle and type yours.
   
     4. Hit Save and try out your tweet button!

I guess I should make sure my Tweet button is working properly now! 

I hope this helped you out! :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Life in Cell Phone Pictures

I gave Bronson his first apple the other day and he loved every bit of it. He held onto that apple like his life depended on it and when I took it away he had a fit. I'm glad he loves his food! :)

Last week while our house was drying out from our flood we stayed at my brother in law & sister in law's place. Kallie loves spending time with her cousins and copies everything they do. We were watching the girls one night and I found them chillin with Bronson in the playpen! Of course, Kallie wanted to climb in and join in on the party! 

Ever since Easter Kallie has been fascinated with bunny ears. She wears them all the time and walks around the house saying "Bunny hop hop". 

I love seeing Kallie and Bronson play together. It's almost been a year since Bronson was born and when we weren't sure if he was going to make it or not and now when I see them playing together I feel so blessed.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Bronson's a "Tiny Light"

Last year when Bronson was in the hospital someone told us about The Tiny Light Foundation.
I've talked about this organization before but in case you don't remember they're a "non profit organization that provides professional photography for children and families that have been faced with a life altering diagnoses." 
TheTinyLightFoundation
Last June we filled out the application and in the fall, once Bronson was healthy, we met with Misty from Misty Dawson Photography & Design and had our photos taken. She was great with the kids and made the session enjoyable. Check out her website!

 Bronson is now a "Tiny Light" on The Tiny Light Website and you can find a little bit of his story and photos here!


 Right now they provide services to families in Canada but I'm not 100% sure if they have photographers in the US. If you're in the US and want more info I'd suggest filling out the application on their website and see what they tell you. 

I have no association with The Tiny Light Foundation but if you, or anyone you know of, has a child with a life altering diagnosis you should check out their website and see for yourself how many children's stories they've been able to tell through photos. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Easter Weekend in Review


We were all over the map on Easter weekend but it was worth it to be able to see all of our family! 
We had an Easter dinner at my grandparents on Saturday and, of course, we ate way too much food! 

We were ready to leave my grandparents when I remembered that I don't have any pictures of Kallie and Bronson with their Great Grandparents. The kids were in their pajamas & ready for bed but I put up with their crying and got a somewhat ok picture. 


Kallie was soo not into pictures on Easter Sunday and all she wanted to do was twirl around in her "princess" dress.

Bronson wanted to stand up against the chair but Kallie was already mad that she had to sit still for pictures so poor Bronson got scowled at and pushed away.

I didn't realize how difficult it would be to get these two to sit still beside each other while I took a picture. This is the best one I got of the two of them!


Mmmmm chocolate!

All of the Anthony cousins!


Have a wonderful weekend everyone! :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Embrace the Camera: April 12/12

Once again I'm linking up with Emily over at The Anderson Crew for Embrace the Camera. 

I took a ton of pictures over Easter weekend so check in tomorrow to see a few of them but, for today, here are two of me and my kiddos! 

The minute I bring out my camera Kallie starts staying "cheese". She then eagerly waits to see the picture on the screen. It's amazing how quickly kids catch on to technology! 

Bronson is stubborn and hates to nap for me. He can look absolutely exhausted (like he does here) but the minute I put him down to nap he starts standing and chatting away. I'm still adamant about giving him a nap every day because one of these days I'm sure he'll start liking them... right? I really hope so anyways! 


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Our Poopy Mess of a House

I mentioned yesterday in my post that we had a flood this past Monday. There was a lot of water damage that has affected 2 levels plus our crawl space. 

Yesterday morning we were told that the repairs would be a big job and that it shouldn't be a problem to stay in our house with everything going on. Then, last night we were given the news. They found mold from a flood that must have occurred years ago before we bought our house and we're not allowed back into our home until Friday. Thankfully, we have some awesome family who are letting us stay with them! 

Even though this whole situation sucks I really can't explain how excited I am to be getting our bathrooms redone and new flooring on 2 levels!

This photo was taken Monday night a few hours after the flood. The flood happened on the level above and this is how much water came down stairs and then went down another level into the crawl space. Our insurance (thank goodness for them!!) was very quick to have a crew at our place and already ripping up flooring just hours after it happened. 

This is what we came home to Tuesday night. 
Remember the picture above this one? Well, this is the same room and the circle in the wall is where our tv is usually mounted. The flood originated above this room and they've had to remove everything to let it dry out. The only working bathroom is on the other side of this wall and, as you can see the giant hold in the wall, there isn't any privacy if you have to pee! lol 

This is my upstairs bathroom where the flood started. You can't see it in the picture but, half of that blue wall has been taken out. 

They ripped the flooring out of Kallie's room and covered everything. The master bedroom and Bronson's bedroom will also have the flooring ripped out eventually. 

We've been told that our house will be safe for us to live in again by the end of the week and things should be a little less hectic! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Weekend Chaos

We had a great Easter weekend and were able to see a lot of family. I love spending holidays with family!

I have a lot of Easter pictures to show you but we've had a lot of chaos happen since yesterday so these iPhone ones will have to do for now!

And, by chaos I mean a flood.

To say it was a small flood would be an understatement. Our toilet went crazy & by the time we noticed the water it had already leaked through 3 floors. We have a 4 level backsplit so at least we were lucky enough that 1 of the floors remained untouched. Our insurance was great & had a crew at our house two hours later to assess the damage. Right now they know of water damage in 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, tv room, 2 hallways, 2 staircases & our crawl space. We were planning on renovating our bathrooms & doing new flooring in the hallway and stairs but now they're just being done a little sooner than planned! All I have to say is thank goodness for home insurance!

We were able to stay in our house last night and we're hoping that we can live through all the renovations.

Even though it's a pain in the butt right now, I'm really excited to be getting new bathrooms! :)
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