Thursday, June 30, 2011

Planning ahead...

Yesterday after I got Caitlyn from daycare she said "since I'm going to have a monster birthday party, I must have a monster cake". I really love how excited she is about her next birthday even though it is still nearly 8 months away.  And so of course I couldn't resist temptation and started looking on Google to see what sort of monster birthday party ideas there might be. I think it can be quite a cool and colourful theme, lots of fun things to incorporate it would seem.

But I won't be starting to actively plan anything just yet.  Not only is it way too early, but she might very well change her mind closer to the time.  

Monday, June 27, 2011

P - I - S - T - O

It is hard to believe that the end of June is right around the corner.  Scary how fast this year is flying.  Not sure if it is just a sign of getting older, but I remember as a child how long time dragged - especially when I was excitedly waiting for something to happen.  Even weekends felt fairly long.   So either time is going just way too fast because I'm getting older or perhaps because so much of what we do takes up our time.  Things like the internet...

Anyway, this past weekend we couldn't help laughing.  Caitlyn was singing a song:

"There was a farmer who had a dog
and Bingo was his name-o



And Bingo was his name-o"

And it doesn't matter how many times we corrected her, this is the way she sings it :-)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

About friendships...

A true friend is somebody who when you tell them you are going through a particular distracted and busy period of time, will accept this.  They might not fully understand, but they will accept that it is just life.  And they will show an interest - a real interest in how you are going. 

But instead a particular person seems to have taken offence that I have been incredibly busy.  Busy with Bianca's birthday party arrangements, busy with urgent information I needed to gather and finally after a month and a half we are so nearly there (but I can't go into detail on here, except that it has taken hours and hours and hours and weeks and weeks and weeks - phone calls, and emails, and follow ups and letters and some more phone calls and emails), busy with our business planning and the usual kids' things every day - school and sport and homework and house cleaning, laundry, dishes and for me this time of the year is always a bit more of an anxious time when we reach the anniversary of Bianca's leukemia diagnosis.  Where I feel a bit more anxious, more aware of the circumstances leading up to Bianca's diagnosis and the days following that. 

And in the back of your mind you are so aware of the symptoms and the signs that you can't help looking for it in every situation. "Hmmm, Caitlyn has a bit of a temperature - could it be?  Hmmm, Bianca has a few extra bruises...", and so on.  It is almost like turning out the lights and the room is pitch black dark and in that moment you can't even really see your hand in front of your eyes, and you make your way to your bed and you keep waiting for that moment that you will bump your toes against the bedframe and then when you reach your bed without bumping your foot, you give this huge sigh of relief. 

So along with dealing with the anniversary of Bianca's diagnosis and the other urgent tasks requiring my attention, I did not have an opportunity for a lot of visits.  But tonight - tonight I decided to make contact with a friend on Facebook again.  Okay granted, she's not a best or close friend and we have virtually nothing in common, but her little boy and Caitlyn sort of gets along (even when he sometimes ends up locking her in his room making Caitlyn cry and then refusing to apologise) but it is nice to sometimes catch up with her.  So I haven't been spending too much time on Facebook and a while back we've actually decided to limit the time we spend on there, and so usually I briefly go in, have a quick look at the status updates in the newsfeed, reply where I feel I had something to offer and then I would leave Facebook again.  Now this particular friend - I haven't seen any updates of hers in my newsfeed.  She's certainly made no recent contact and for me time has just run away at an incredibly fast rate.  Tonight I thought I would go and specifically check up on what she's been up to and look at invite them at some point for afternoon tea now that most of the urgent tasks are pretty much done and guess what? 

It seems we are 10 again and on the school ground (figuratively speaking, we weren't actually in the same school and she's quite a bit older than me) - she's taken offence to the fact that I have been busy (despite me letting her know about being really really busy with the urgent deadlines and the anxious time of Bianca's diagnosis).  She's now decided to "spite" me and blocked me from her Facebook wall.  Not "defriend" me which is weird because if you don't want to be my Facebook friend anymore, why don't you just "defriend" me?  Why block me from your wall only?  Is it that she wants to keep having access to my info to check up on me?  Or what?  Who knows.  But really, I thought we were both adults.  Oh well!

One thing is for sure, the friends I feel most comfortable with are the ones who have the same interests as me, the ones who accept things, who are not so insecure (or perhaps so self-centred) that they will take offence when you are going through a particularly busy time, that they will assume it is all about them, when in fact it is not at all about them.  When in fact it really has just been an incredibly busy time.

One thing I know is that I don't have the energy to play childish games.  Either you are my friend or you are not - end of story.

Thankfully I have quite few really good friends in my life - I certainly am very very blessed!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A birthday celebration

Bianca really wanted a Harry Potter birthday party.  And for months this is what we've been thinking about and finally the big day arrived.  We booked the school hall because Bianca has so many friends.  Too many for our house and so the school hall was certainly a great option.  It has lots of space, has a kitchen right there, tables and chairs and all that we had to bring were - food, decorations and kids.

We couldn't do the party on Bianca's actual birthday which was on Saturday 18th June because currently on Saturdays she has netball in the morning and cheerleading in the afternoon and so we planned to do the party on Saturday 19th June.

On the morning of the 18th we woke Bianca up with presents, singing (happy birthday) and breakfast in bed.  That's sort of our tradition in our house.

Afterwards Bianca got ready for her netball match, but about 10 minutes later the netball teacher called to say the match was cancelled thanks to the rain, but it did give us a bit more of a relaxing morning.  After lunch we left to set up the hall.

Terence and Bianca left to go to cheerleading, but unfortunately Bianca got a coughing fit when she ran to the bathrooms.  And so Terence brought her back instead.

And then we went to Cobb 'n Co for dinner - another tradition in our house - when it is your birthday, you get to choose what we'll have for dinner, be it something special we make at home or somewhere special to go to and so Bianca decided she really wanted to go to Cobb 'n Co.  At the restaurant Bianca opened some more presents from South African family.

And then the party day arrived!  The day we've planned and worked towards for quite a while.

I made all the invitations to resemble Hogwarts acceptance letters.  Some parents actually joined in the fun and one parent sent a letter letting us know that their child would come to the party and on the envelope she wrote (by owl post) and another parent sent a text and ended it with (... their muggle mother) :-).

I found this cool website to make these paper wands.  They were so easy to make and I used 2 sheets of paper, 2 bamboo sticks (with the pointy bits cut off) because that made it easier to roll, a glue gun and some paint. 

When the kids arrived, they each got to choose their special wand:

We then sorted the kids into their tables with the sorting hat.  This was so much fun, I read out the names and Terence pre-recorded some suitable messages onto the ipad for when we put the hat on each child's head.

For lunch we simply had some sandwiches, sausage rolls and so on.  Nothing major.  And then it was time for candles and cake.  Bianca's teacher also came to the party - she insisted on inviting him to the party and he was such good sport - he even dressed up.  He brought his guitar and then we all sang happy birthday to Bianca.


I then chose some ordinary games with a Harry Potter spin on it.

For the quidditch game - I painted a bunch of polystyrene balls black (bludgers), brown (quaffles) and golden (a golden snitch).  I put all the balls into a box with a hole cut into each side. The idea with this was that the kids would stand in 2 circles and pass a ball to each other until the music stops and then when the music stopped, the one with the ball in their hand would run to the box and choose a ball.  The team that manages to find the golden snitch would then be the winning team.

The other game that we had in mind was a Tag you're it kind of game.  We called it the defence against the dark arts game as in Harry Potter or "freeze you're it".  Basically the kids would all stand in a designated area and then one child wearing a party hat is the wizard.  The wizard then have to tap a child with his / her wand saying a special magic spell and then that would make the person "freeze".  The person can only be unfrozen when one of the other kids crawl underneath the frozen kids' legs saying their magic spell.

Our friend Mike also came up with another fun game where the kids had to keep a balloon in the air using only their wands:

And some or the other game using a balloon:

Part of the entertainment was that the kids would watch Harry Potter 1 and for the movie I found this cool website and made these owl bags for the movie treats.  It was simply a brown paper bag with some paper decorations making it look like owls.

Inside each bag I put some popcorn, some jelly beans, some jelly snakes and a chocolate frog.

Bianca got to open her presents:

And then right at the end the kids each got a little bag and a balloon.  Each little bag contained a little thank you note from Bianca, some star glitter and a stone I painted using red paint a glitter - a philosopher / sorcerer stone :-)

 All in all, it was such an incredibly fun party.  And now I'm leaving you with this photos of my beautiful girls:

Monday, June 20, 2011

Just a quick post...

because it is late, but Bianca's party was so much fun.  She had the best time ever, she got loads of presents, the theme was perfect and hopefully tomorrow I can actually upload some photos onto the blog.

Will update soon!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Counting down the days

It is hard to believe Bianca is turning 8 in exactly one week.  Wow!  Suddenly it feels so close.  I think it is a good thing we booked an indoor venue because right now it is really cold (like in light the fire kind of cold), it is overcast and rainy.  So definitely not good outdoor venue weather. 

This week is going to be a pretty busy week for me as I work to finish up all the things we want to have ready for Bianca's birthday party and one of the main things I'll be busy with will have to be the cake. 

So fingers crossed the cake does not turn out too hard...

Friday, June 10, 2011

About birthdays and going to big school

Today is cold and rainy.  It is winter.  In full force.  Which means we'll have to start ordering some firewood as the stack in our shed is now nearly finished.

Yesterday as we were discussing Bianca's birthday next week and what needs to still be done (and yes I'm a sucker for punishment and still has loads to do), Caitlyn suddenly said "I'm going to have a monster birthday party for my birthday.  Everybody will need to dress up as monsters.  I'm going to be a green monster.  And Barbies and princesses - and then the monsters will chase them and gobble them up.  And we'll play monster tag and monster musical statues.  So if you don't sit on a chair quickly, that means you are out - like the proper musical chairs.  But this is a monster musical chairs that you haven't played".  Seems like a certain little girl is excited about her next birthday - even though that is still 8 months away...

Speaking of which, it is a bit scary to realise that my 4 year old will be 5 in 8 months time and that in 8 months time she'll start big school as a new entrant.  And suddenly she'll experience a whole new world - a world of reading and writing and lots of new things to learn, new friends and new teachers.  Most of the kids who have been going to daycare with Caitlyn will be going to other schools because of the school zoning rules and where they live.  But she's never had problems making friends, so I am certainly not worried.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I have learned...

that while there are some really horrible people out there who do not care about you and will do anything to make sure they don't have to take responsibility - even if it means destroying another person in the process, there are some amazing people out there.  People who will go out of their way to help you.  People who will truly make a difference and today I want to say thank you!

I can't go into detail, but let me tell you the past month (could it be a month already, not sure) has been crazy busy to try and get some stuff sorted out.  Important stuff with a deadline.  Stuff that we can't afford to mess up.  And many times it has been 1 step forward and 3 steps back, several times feeling like we were hitting a brick wall, but last week I "met" the most amazing and compassionate person and today, thanks to this person, we've had an amazing breakthrough and made real progress.  It is also an answer to my prayers. 

Today is a day that I am truly thankful!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Wands, bludgers, quaffles and a snitch

Today is a Harry Potter day - a day where I am working on stuff for Bianca's birthday party - which is now only about 2 weeks away (insert panic here). 

We have her guest list, invitations will go out tomorrow (which I really wanted to get out last week already, but we were not ready then), I'm busy making and painting wands and painting quaffles, bludgers and a golden snitch. We've figured out what she'll be wearing (sort of) and have a good idea of the entertainment and games.  The hall is all booked and for our $20 we are not only getting the hall, but tables and chairs as well as curtains all around the windows and then if the day looks anything like today - grey, chilly and rainy, then we are all set with our indoor venue.  I still need to try and make the potion pots and next week I'll need to focus on the cake.  So quite a bit I'm hoping to get done still and if all goes well I'm hopeful this will be a really fun party.

Bianca is certainly very excited and can hardly wait.  It is hard to believe she is turning 8 years old already - my little girl is growing up way too fast.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Looking back

Today 4 years ago our world came crashing down.  In an instant.  Like watching a vase fall from a table - almost as if in slow motion, you see it fall, but your brain is not telling your hand to reach out and stop the fall and then in an instant the pieces all over the floor. Today 4 years ago we were told Bianca had cancer - leukemia.  It was 2 weeks until she was due to turn 4.  Apart from the fear that our beautiful 3 year old could die, I found entering this unknown world to be incredibly hard.  It was like being pushed into a deep and dark pool and told "swim".  It was a world completely foreign to us, a prison sentence looming ahead of us and in an instant world as we knew it came to an end.  Our new world would be the world of leukemia, the uncertainty, the never-ending wait.  Looking back Bianca has more than 1,300 beads of courage she collected during the following 830 days of treatment. 

1 June 2011 we had Bianca's latest blood test and checkup.  And it was the world of difference to how it was 4 years ago.  4 years ago she had no neutrophils, she urgently needed a red blood transfusion as well as platelets.  Today her blood results were completely normal.  Like any other person's should be.  Of course for us there is always a bit of a risk that it might come back or that she could get another cancer and so it will always be a waiting game, but for now, we are thankful that she is doing well. 

Just like 4 years ago we are right in the middle of planning Bianca's birthday party, but unlike 4 years ago we are not forced to cancel the party like we had to in 2007. 

When I look at Bianca she is such an incredibly special kid.  An amazing kid who despite enduring so much never lost her beautiful smile, she never lost her love for life, she never stopped believing that she could do anything.  She never became angry that she was chosen to fight leukemia, she never gave up - she'll always be my hero! 

Last night I sat here watching a video clip of sheer determination - an athlete who tore a muscle in his leg and then hobbled the last 250m to finish the race.  His dad jumped over the barrier and ran to his son's help and then told him "we'll finish this together".  The video clip had me in tears.  Not only because of watching what was busy happening with this athlete, but also because it reminded me so much of the day Bianca chose to participate in her school cross country event, despite being on chemo that affected her legs and her ability to run like other kids and even though she came dead last she finished it.  She was given the option to sit out, be a helper or walk - instead Bianca insisted that she would participate.  She was not going to give up!

Looking back these past 4 years I am so blessed with 2 girls who are the most beautiful, special and amazing kids.  Caitlyn will never realise the important role she played during Bianca's leukemia treatment - despite being only 3 months old at the time, she kept things normal for all of us, her beautiful smile would light up the room.  She brightened Bianca's day when she was stuck in hospital.  And despite often spending time away from one of her parents, or having her routines and schedules revolve around Bianca's treatment schedule, Caitlyn never complained, she was simply an amazing little sister to her big sister.

I will forever be reminded of how very blessed we are!