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When Tragedy Strikes… What Do You Tell Your Children?

 

What do you tell your kids when tragedy strikes? I know it all depends on how old your kids are. A conversation with a teenager about what happened in Las Vegas this week is much different than a conversation with a five year old. Do you even talk to your kids about these things? Do you know what to say? I know we all have our own opinions about whether to have the conversation or not, and if so, how much info is enough versus too much.

My son is nine and I believe in being very honest with him. I have always felt that way. In fact, I never really gave it much thought as to being honest or sugar coating things- I just started out with honesty. I have certainly never considered pretending things like this didn’t happen.

I’ll never forget when AJ was 3 years old and our beloved boxer, Buster Brown died. I’m telling you, Buster was the BEST dog ever. He took care of us, loved us so much, let us know when AJ was crying as a baby and let AJ pull his ears and poke his eyes when he was a toddler. But when he was 8, he had some major health problems and we had to put him to sleep. I’ll never forget that awful day.

AJ was old enough to realize that Buster wasn’t with us anymore and that allowed us to have many conversations about death, dying, heaven and missing our lost loved ones. I know he was very young, but I truly believe he understood what we were talking about- as much as a 3 year old could. To this day, we still talk about Buster and how we’re sure he’s up in heaven, farting, drooling and chasing tennis balls. I’m forever grateful to this dog for letting his life be a lesson for AJ. It really warms my heart.

 

A few years after Buster died, my mom’s husband, Dave, died of cancer. Dave and AJ were really close. They were best pals and enjoyed going on walks, playing with marbles, watching Star Wars and so many other things. Dave did not have any kids of his own, but was such a great Papa. In Dave’s eyes, A could do no wrong. When Dave died, AJ was really sad and missed him, but he also understood it. He understood that Papa was up in heaven and we often talked about how he and Buster were up there playing ball and having fun. It was really sad, but also very sweet.

As AJ got to be school aged, he started learning about things such as the attacks in New York on September 11th. Once again, I felt like I had to be honest with AJ about what happened. Of course, I kept it to where I thought it was age appropriate, but also honest. I explained to him about terrorism, and how some people in other countries hate people in ours. I explained how there were so many people in those buildings working and doing what they normally did and how they lost their lives. We talk about it every year when it comes around and how it makes us feel. I think it’s so important to have that open communication.

Now, with this tragedy in Las Vegas, we’re once again talking. The morning the shooting happened, I thought about talking to him about it, but I left for work before AJ woke up. To be honest, I was in such shock and so sad, it probably wasn’t the time to talk about it anyway. That afternoon when he got home, I asked him about his day and he told me some of the normal things he usually tells me. Then he went on to ask me if I’d heard about what happened in Las Vegas. At this point, I realized someone had brought it up at school. I told him that yes, I did hear about it, and asked him what he heard. He didn’t know a lot of details at that point, but knew that a gunman had killed and injured many people.

We have our best conversations when AJ is in the shower, so that night, when he was warming up in the water, I asked him if he had any questions about the Las Vegas shooting. I don’t recall what he asked me, but it was that moment that I decided that again, I need to be honest with him. Of course I would love to tell him that the world is perfect, everyone is nice and nothing else bad will ever happen, but that is not reality. I do not want to scare him, but I do want him to know what real life is. So, I explained him in a gentle way, that there were thousands of people at a concert, having a good time and suddenly this crazy man decided to shoot as many people as he could from a window up in a hotel room. I told him I didn’t know why this man did this, but that police would try to figure that out. I told him that it scared me and reminded him of our many conversations about September 11th and how this tragedy reminded me a lot of that awful day. I explained to him that this was a crappy day and that I felt sick to my stomach. As I do a lot, I reminded him of why I tell him I love him ten million times a day. Our lives can change in an instant and if something bad happens to one of us, I want him to know – to REALLY know- that I love him.

And after we talked about just how horrible this day was, we moved into what we could do. I said that while this terrible shooting could cause us to stay home, stay indoors, not go out and have fun and live life that we weren’t going to do any of those things. We were going to continue to have fun and we were going to continue to be good people. That was our plan. All we can do is go on with life and be good people. And he agreed with me. I asked him to go to school the next day and fill his friend’s buckets- meaning do nice things for people and that I would do the same at work. I explained that it didn’t matter where we are- Las Vegas, Denver, even around the corner from our house- that bad things can happen. But that’s not going to stop us from living. I love that he got it. He understood what I meant.

I think it is so very important to continue talking to our kids about this kind of stuff. Certainly I don’t want to bring it up so much that it’s all he thinks about, but if we don’t talk to our kids, then they are going to talk to others and possibly get the wrong information. Yesterday (2 days after the shooting), I asked him again if people were talking about Las Vegas and he said one boy told him that the gunman had 50 grenades and 50 guns. I explained that I hadn’t hear about any grenades but yes, he did have a lot of guns. That led to a discussion about gun control- which I won’t get into here.

In some weird way, it helps me to talk to AJ about these kinds of things. I try to see things from his perspective and give him mine, and it comforts me. He’s only 9, but I feel like he’s so wise and caring. I do not want him to feel like he has to take care of me or make me feel better, but in his own way, he does that.

As I stated in the beginning, I am only doing what feels best to me when talking to my son about what is going on in the world. You may do it differently or not at all. Or you may not know what to say. Maybe this will help you a little.

I wish you and your family peace, love, goodness and safety.

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Meet Hazel…She’s a Survivor!

I’d love for you to meet Hazel. This little girl is ADORABLE and so sweet. Just like Jonny and Kylie, I don’t know Hazel, but I’m just sure she’s super sweet. I mean, look at her smile! Her parents call her their Hazelnut. Hazel lives in California with her parents and 4 siblings. She has battled and BEAT Cancer twice! I pray she doesn’t have to go through that again.

Hazel’s story:

On April 17th, 2013, 2 year old Hazel began complaining about “owies” she had. Since she was only 2 years old, she couldn’t communicate exactly what hurt or where, but over the next few days, her mom noticed she was in pain on and off, more tired than usual and she lost her once ravenous appetite. Lauren, Hazel’s mom, says at that point she told her husband that her “mommy instincts are going crazy”.

A few days later, when the symptoms didn’t subside, Lauren took Hazel to the pediatrician. After many tests, doctors discovered a sold mass growing inside her abdomen. It was the sizeof a lime, which on a tiny 2 year old body is big! Her doctors couldn’t tell them what the mass was, so they were sent to Children’s Hospital where she had a CT scan. The CT scan and urine test confirmed the worst. Not only was the size of the mass more like a MELON but it was cancer. The pain she was in was from the tumor pushing on Hazel’s kidney and encroaching on her liver.

Hazel was diagnosed with Stage 3 neuroblastoma at just 2 years old. She endured 6 cycles of grueling chemotherapy, a 7 hour tumor resection surgery, a stem cell transplant that nearly took her life and landed her in the ICU for three weeks, weeks in rehab doing physical, occupational and speech therapy, 20 doses of radiation, and 6 months of Immunotherapy. Once that was all completed, Hazel was declared NED, or No Evidence of Disease! As you can imagine, this was celebrated news! They were all thrilled, but as with most childhood cancers, the chances of relapse are high.

Devastatingly, just as Hazel was going to start Kindergarten in August 2016, she relapsed. Doctors found three new neuroblastoma tumors- in her abdomen and neck. She began new treatment in November and has thankfully been diagnosed NED again! We can only pray that she continues to have clear scans and beat this beast called cancer for good!

As you can imagine, being a parent of a child who has cancer is very emotional. Lauren has blogged a lot about the deep depression and anxiety she has felt during these very trying times. I have to believe that if your child has relapsed once, relapse again isn’t too far from one’s mind. It’s hard for me to imagine dealing with all of this, and still having to parent your other children, meet other commitments, make dinner, and keep a clean house and all the other things that adults have to do. Lauren said a few months back, “We are tired. We are weary. Our faith is shaken. Our brains are depleted. And cancer just doesn’t let up. IT JUST NEVER GETS EASIER.”

This has been a really long road for Hazel and her family but I hope the waters calm down for her family soon. They all need a break.

Please keep Hazel and her family in your prayers. If you want to follow her journey, here is the link to her blog.

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Just Not Feeling It..

You may have noticed that I haven’t been showing up in your email lately. And that my most recent blog post is probably 2 weeks old. And that my social media is pretty much asleep. Or maybe you haven’t noticed.

I’m just not feeling it lately. I will try to explain why I’m not feeling it, and how it all happened so quickly.

For months, I was ALL IN on this blog. I was excited by it every day. I was constantly looking to learn new things, finding out how to grow it, advertising it ALL over social media and pretty much begging for followers. I was consistently writing at least 2 times a week, plus sending a newsletter. I had joined SO MANY Facebook and Pinterest blog sites. These are usually “follow for follow” type sites. You “like” my Facebook page and I’ll “like” yours. It’s a good way to get followers- but I’m not sure they are real followers.

Quickly, my personal Facebook wall was full of ONLY stranger’s blog posts. And I wasn’t interested in reading them. I also didn’t have time, because all of these groups require that you “like” a certain number of other Facebook sites so that was taking all of my time. I got very tired of opening Facebook and seeing 30+ notifications from people I didn’t know. I was missing my friends on Facebook. They were there, but they were not near the top of my feed. My email also became FULL of other blog posts, advertisements for blogging apps, and someone trying to sell me another class on blogging. It was literally ALL I WAS SEEING.

One day, a few weeks ago, I just decided I needed a break. I was worn out. Honestly I got sick of thinking about what to write, how to promote, trying to get more followers and having to keep up. I again began thinking “do people actually care what I’m writing about”? Friends and family stopped asking about it so frequently (which I understand), and my hope that I’d someday make a living blogging waned.

We all go through ups and downs in life and currently I’m feeling a bit stuck. I know things will change and I’ll become unstuck, but for now, I need a break. It has been a rough couple of weeks and I’m just emotionally drained. Thanks for sticking around. More to come.

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Quick Quote(s)! Judgement

Let’s be honest here. We all judge others even when we try our best not to. Her clothes, her hair, his car, his job, their child’s school or 1,000 other things. But why?! Why do we feel like it’s ok to judge someone when we don’t know the whole story? And why do we think we deserve the whole story? Do we ever stop and think, “I wonder what that person is going through today?” I’m not here to say I am perfect. I’m far from it. But the older I get the more I realize that I certainly don’t like being judged nor does it make me feel good to judge someone else! I realize we’re all doing the best we can.


 

 

 

So, the next time we decide we know that persons story and we think we could have done better or differently, maybe we should take a step back and look into ourselves. Life isn’t about living up to someone else’s standards (easier said than done) or living for someone else. As I said last week, life is meant to be enjoyed!

 

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