Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Blog Posts of 2014 I'm Happy Never to See Again

I'm sad to see the holidays go, really I am. But since I promised myself to always do my best to see the glass being half-full, I'll adjust my lenses this time around.

Yes, I'll miss the empty space left behind by our Christmas tree. I will ache a little every time I see a colder looking mantle, or the bland wall abandoned by the colorful string LED lights we hung above our television. Most of all, I know that I'd feel a bit lost for a few days as I search for that palpable sense of anticipation and excitement in the air.

But just as I'd miss all that, there are things I'm happy to finally see go (I hope!); things on the blogosphere, in particular, that I can't take another ounce of. These are either holiday-related or just posts I've seen too much of that I'm beginning to think I'm in a perpetual state of dèjà vu. One more of these and I am very likely to snap and just end up randomly slapping people.

So without further ado, here are my top three types of blog posts that I'm excited to bid farewell to and hope to never see again :

Image by: Miguel Angel

1. Posts on the annoying Elf on the Shelf 

It was in 2013 when I first started reading posts on this little imp. The first I read was humorous and I found it so spot on. Then I read a second one, and a third, and I'm sure many more but I just lost interest by then and decided to move on. I guess I expected too much when I thought the rest of the world moved on with me because this year, I saw the same posts, or at least they read so eerily (and annoyingly) similar, though written by different authors. It's all about how it all starts out with the desire to have fun trying to create magic for the kids by coming up with the craziest, most creative antics imaginable. And then as expected, it all turns into a living hell as the bar keeps being raised and the expectations become unachievable. Add this pressure to the need to clean up all the crazy mess this stupid elf leaves, and it's a formula for the worst, most sickeningly whiny post a mom blogger could ever come up with. So yes, I am so over these elf posts and I pray to God I don't see any of these next December. Let's just move on, people!

2. "Scam" blog posts giving "tips" on how to blog better

I will ban you from my reading list for life if I find you guilty of this. These are the posts with the most enticing titles, luring you to click on them because the writer makes it seem like the article will be full of novel and brilliant ideas that will help you and me blog better, have insane traffic and whoa!...even earn a lot of money! And then you enter the site and read what the author has to say and it's nothing but crap, things that even someone who just started blogging yesterday already knows. You'll find advice such as "write good material", "keep learning", "be creative", or "choose a good title". And then you reach the end of the article and wonder where the rest of the promised valuable information is. At the end of it, you just feel duped for clicking through this sh*t and wish you could give the author the finger. 

3. Open letters to future daughters- /sons- in-law

Look, I'm a mom too, and one who's so in love with her own offspring and want only the best for him. But no matter how much I love my son, I really see no point in writing a letter this early to someone fictitious who may or may not come into my son's life, telling that person how awesome my child is and how I want him to be treated and loved. When I first came across such a blog post, initially I thought it was endearing. I mean, here are moms who are drowning in love for their babies. But then after a while I thought how a little neurotic (to say the least) it actually is. Your child's just a baby and doesn't even know where his/her genitalia are, and here you are contemplating on what you want to say to his/ her future partner in life?? Seriously?! If the objective of these letters is to make sure that your beloved child repels any sane and wise partner in life who knows what's good for them, then congratulations! You've just devised the best in-law repellent known to man! News flash: Relationships with mothers-in-law are complicated enough as it is. Why must you go over the top and announce to the world how awesome your kid is that really, no one will ever be good enough to deserve him/ her? Wise. Very wise move.....

Now that I've gotten that out of the way and out of my chest,
allow me to greet all of you
a BLESSED 2015!
May we all strive to read (AND write) better material!

How about you? Are there blog topics that you feel have been overly-covered this past year and really can't take any more of at this point? Please do share in the comments below!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

My Christmas Wish For You


Don't you just love that word? There's something about it that makes you really breathe out and let it all go.


Now that Santa's cookies are done and ready to be served, the presents are all wrapped, and cards all sent out...


The bird is ready, potatoes all mashed, baked and fancied up; the pies, pastries or cakes are smelling divine and the drinks are all chilled...


This is my wish for you this Christmas, that you can exhale, let go, be still.

Maybe you are spent from all the holiday preparations. Maybe that stupid elf on the shelf made you curse unnecessarily these past weeks...

Maybe you are caring for a sick loved one. Maybe you are worried sick about your, or a family member's health...

Maybe you are far from home, your heart missing those dear to you...

Exhale. Let go. Be still.

This is Christmas' gift to us. The anticipation is over and Christmas has finally arrived. Everyone takes a pause, simmers in the joy, and focuses on the love.

Exhale. Let go. Be still. Nothing has to be perfect, not the day, the gifts, the decorations, nor anyone around us. It's a day about Love and Love never demanded perfection. It only asks for open hearts and the courage needed to focus only on those things that truly matter to our souls.

Merry Christmas, Catharsis family and friends! 
May you find comfort and peace as you exhale, let go, be still, and give in to Love and the true meaning of this season.

Friday, December 19, 2014

We Gave Tamiflu A Shot, And Here's What Happened...

I knew it was only a matter of time. 

On Monday, Noah's teacher announced that there's something going around. 70 kids out sick at his school. 

The next day, my hairstylist informs me while snipping away at my hair, that at her daughter's school, less than 10 miles away from us, 98 students were out sick. Statistically speaking, I knew the odds were against us. I kept praying, "If we can just get through this week, just this week....please..."

And then Wednesday morning came and I got the dreaded call from the school nurse. 

"Mom, your son is here with me at the clinic and he's complaining of a headache and his temperature is 99.6. So....can you come pick him up?"

I could've been a smart ass and argued that 99.6 is technically not a fever. But I also knew that my son is not the type who fakes illnesses and who won't really agree to be sent to the clinic in the first place unless he really wasn't feeling well.

And so I rushed to pick him up and saw that my son really didn't look good at all. While walking towards the car, he said he felt extremely nauseous and that his head was throbbing really bad. By the time we got home, his temperature began to spike and I knew in my heart it was the dreaded FLU.

Yes, we all got vaccinated, we are fairly healthy, and doing our best to always wash or sanitize our hands and minimize the face-touching. Yes to all that so NO, I did not see this coming. 

On Thursday morning, I was able to book an appointment at the pediatrician's office and after two swabs (one for the flu and another for strep) and a longer than normal wait time, the doctor informed us that my son does have the flu. On the bright side though, she quickly added, my son came early enough (less than 48 hours after the initial onset of symptoms) for him to get the benefit of taking the antiviral drug Tamiflu.

I asked if what I heard was true, that Tamiflu can cause hallucinations. The doctor said yes, it does.

Then I asked if the drug can prevent further complications of the flu, such as pneumonia. The doctor said no, it does not.

I've heard of this drug for at least a couple of years now but never really bothered to do serious research on it. So with an optimistic heart and an in-denial mommy brain, I agreed to the prescription and focused on my desperation to shorten my son's illness and make the experience for him as bearable as I could, or as any drug could.

This sense of desperation was further made obvious by my willingness to pay the pharmacist $70+ in exchange for the last bottle they had! How lucky can I be?!

So I went home eager to administer the first dose to my suffering child. I fed him a little bit and then gave him the medicine. 

After 30 minutes, he threw up...a lot. After that, I encouraged him to rest and take a nap. In the next two hours that followed, he kept opening his eyes and with a troubled look on his face kept asking me, "Am I bigger to you? Am I taller? I feel so tall, Mama. I feel like I'm floating above, like I'm right by the ceiling"

At that point I really wondered if it was the drug. I knew it wasn't delirium from his fever because his temperature wasn't even that high. It only hovered around 102. But since I still wanted so badly to trust in Tamiflu and its 'mighty powers', I chose to remain in denial and chalked it up to Noah's predisposition to sleep talking or night terrors. 

Everything changed when one of my lovely neighbors messaged me on Facebook. They live across the street and her daughter also started with the flu last weekend. She sent me this blog post talking about cases of deaths in Japan after taking Tamiflu. It also mentions how Roche (the manufacturer of Tamiflu) has refused to release all the data from their clinical trials for the said drug.

After reading that one post, I decided to keep searching online and weigh all the information I could find. 

A lot of the information are anecdotal and I still wasn't all that convinced. However, I found these two sites that made me all the more comfortable with my decision NOT to continue with Tamiflu for my seven year-old. 

What has become clear to me is that this drug does not seem all that safe especially when administered to children, and that at this point, it appears that the risks still outweigh the benefit (which may just be a shortening of flu symptoms by one day). I would rather have my child go through that extra day if it means not giving him the severe nausea, diarrhea (which, by the way, he also had), hallucinations, and other possible psychotic episodes that have been reported. 

I'm not here to tell you what to do. I'm merely sharing our brief experience with this drug and the data I've found online. The point here is that medical / health decisions are personal and it is our responsibility to weigh the facts available to us instead of merely relying on advertisements, hearsay or make hasty decisions based on fear.

To end on a lighter, more holiday-appropriate note, I'm leaving you with this song I 'wrote'. Sing it to your heart's content to the tune of 'Here Comes Santa Claus'.  Enjoy!

Here Comes Tamiflu

Here comes Tamiflu,
Here comes Tamiflu,
Right down 'Fluenza lane
Oseltamivir and Phosphate
Pullin' on the reins
Voices talkin', Shadows chasin',
All is causing me fright
So lock your doors and say your prayers,
'Cause Tamiflu comes tonight.

Here comes Tamiflu,
Here comes Tamiflu,
Right down 'Fluenza lane
It's got promises you can't confirm
for boys and girls again.
Read those reviews and research papers,
Oh what a frightful sight.
So jump in bed and rest instead
Before Tamiflu comes tonight.

Here comes Tamiflu,
Here comes Tamiflu,
Right down 'Fluenza lane
It'll come around when the temperature drops
It's flu time once again.
Fun and Health will come to all
Just rest, hydrate and sit tight
Don't spend your money, you prob'ly don't need it
Don't need Tamiflu tonight.

Do you have any experience with this drug that you'd like to share? I would love to hear your stories!

Friday, December 12, 2014

In Defense of the Stage Mother

He stood on stage, happily singing and moving his arms in 'perfect' coordination with the words of the songs. He was obviously having fun, as I was, and I sat there several feet away from the stage, feeling proud and joyful. I stared at my second-grader the whole night. As far as my eyes were concerned, there was only one spotlight and it was all on him.

Remember those advertisements or movie scenes where the parent looks at their grown child but actually sees the younger or 'baby' version of that child instead? I had that experience last night. As I stared intently at my son, with a smile and obvious sense of wonder plastered on my face, I was actually toggling between seven- and three-year old Noah. I kept wondering how this 'baby' became so amazing and never fails to keep me in a perpetual state of awe. I clearly felt so star-struck, only it was far better than that, far more real because I knew I was in awe of someone I TRULY love as unconditionally as my humanity allows.

After each song he completed on stage, especially after singing his solo part, my husband and I noticed how Noah would glance at us, clearly trying to see how much approval we were expressing. I raised my arms to show him I was clapping hard and kept showing him a double thumbs-up. We knew it wasn't perfect. Noah knew that. But every child on that stage gave their very best and clearly did it with all the joy in their hearts and that made it so perfect and memorable. The entire gym was simply full of love last night.

How we appeared as a family last night makes it hard to believe that just two nights ago, hearts broke and tears were shed. Noah told me something that he remembered doing in school a couple of months ago, something that really disappointed me, and so I gave him a long lecture. If you knew me, you'd know that a long lecture means a LONG lecture and that I can belabor a point to death, with as many versions imaginable, and then do it all over again. (Thanks to 7 years of teaching college kids). That's how long it was. Too long for a seven year old brain, admittedly.

He said I made him feel stupid when I corrected him. I said it's not my intention and that it's my responsibility to correct him and guide him because I love him. I told him how disappointed I was and that what he did was unacceptable in my books. He promised not to do it again and to always do his best next time. We ended with our usual Maya Angelou line, "When you know better, you do better".

After all is said and done, the fact is that I was disappointed and so was my son. And we both know that mistakes will continue to happen and that we will continue to disappoint and hurt each other because that's just how it goes.

Love and Disappointment is a package deal.

If you want loveto love and be lovedyou must accept that you will be disappointed and will disappoint, because love can only be possible if you welcome vulnerability. It will hurt tremendously, and this is why it's important that when you love someone, you assure them that your love is stronger than your disappointment. This is why it's important that as parents, we show our children as much unconditional love as we can so that as they grow up and learn to love others, they will also know that disappointment does not end love. It's not the period to any of love's narratives.

My son is not, and will never be, perfect. Not even in my eyes. As for me, well, let me say that there are countless days in a year when I ask myself if God was sure He did the right thing in making me a parent. I often wonder how much therapy my son would eventually need because he ended up with me as his mother.

But in spite of these feelings of inadequacy, all our mistakes and hurts, I am certain my son knows that for me, he is and will always be front and center; that I will always hold a spotlight for him, ready to flood his life with as much love and illumination as he needs. In this sense, I know now that every mother who does her best to love unconditionally plays the role of the best stage mother there is. We all want the same thing and that is for our children to shine in life as they play the role of the best version of themselves. It won't be perfect, but hopefully it will play out with immeasurable joy.

Friday, December 5, 2014

5 (Non-Lame) Reasons Why I Can't Workout at the Gym

Now that Thanksgiving is done, my ambivalence over this week has arrived, settled in, blew up its airbed and completely made itself feel at home.

Though I love how this week marks the beginning of Christmas preparations, this is also the week when all the remorse and self-loathing from allowing myself to overeat last week during Thanksgiving set in.

"I have to work out", is the constant voice in my head these days. And thank God I have a treadmill in my home, because frankly, you can't drag me to the gym. Not even if you dangled chocolate truffle-stuffed peanut butter cake pops coated in dark chocolate every step of the way.

It's not simply because of my introversion and my avoidance of as much human interaction as possible that strengthen my resistance to working out in the gym. And I wish I could tell you that it's because I think gym memberships are too expensive and that I simply don't want to pay for something I know I won't be able to wholeheartedly commit to. 

Those aren't my real reasons. 

These are...

Original Image by: Health Gauge

1. I'm too self-conscious and too lazy. Bad combination if you're talking about going out of the house. I'm too lazy to fix myself just to mess myself up within 30 mins of making all the effort to look presentable. I don't have a kind of haircut that permits me to just wear a headband or a pony tail to remedy a bed head. This means I'd have to shampoo and blow dry just to feel good about stepping out in public. My face also gets too puffy in the mornings and since I'm a bad sleeper, I also have to deal with dark circles around my eyes. Just the thought of making the effort to look presentable, only to sweat already exhausts me. It just doesn't make sense to me when I know I can just hop on my treadmill at home and feel free to look like crap. 

2. Exercise turns me into the Big Bad Wolf.  No, it's not that I morph into a villain. However, serious physical exertion does seem to transform me into some sort of blower. I huff, and puff, and I do it LOUD. After a couple of minutes of jogging, I end up exhaling really hard that anyone brave enough to stand within two feet of my face would surely feel my breath. Oh, and I think it's worth mentioning that when I get really focused and push myself to the edge of exhaustion, I sometimes unconsciously stick out my tongue to the side of my mouth. No, it's not sexy. Trust me. It looks odd and I'm sure, off-putting. These types of behavior are simply not for public consumption. Let me just stay at home and allow me to preserve some dignity.

3. Other hidden talents tend to come out. I hate exercising, so I really need to motivate myself for about 30-40 minutes and make sure I keep moving on my treadmill. To do so, I rely heavily on music. Having my iPod with me is imperative so I can listen to my workout playlist and feel feisty. As a result, I always end up singing along with The Style Council, The Script, and most especially Taylor Swift, while I also end up making these ugly, emotive facial expressions to go with the songs. From shouting "you're the best thing that ever happuh-hund" "we, are never, ever, ever....getting back together...", it's really like a mini-concert and I don't think any gym patron or other workout enthusiasts would be a fan of my performances. 

4. I have 'control' issues. Now, I really don't know how else to say this, or if I can even really sugar-coat this. And I wish I could say that if I told you, then I'm gonna have to kill you. But then who would read my blog? So, I guess I just have to spit this out and tell it like it is. Somehow, all the movement on the treadmill sometimes makes me either want to piss or take a dump. And while we're at it, I'll throw in 'passing gas' for good measure. It doesn't happen 100% of the time, but it happens often enough to convince me that working out outside of my home is not such a good idea for me. What if I feel the urge and have to run to the restroom, but have only used up 10 minutes of my treadmill time? I would have to lose my spot to someone else and it would just be such a hassle, not to mention extremely embarrassing if green gas followed me around! That would just be a waste of gym membership since I can guarantee that I'd never be able to show my face there ever again. Ever!

5. I'm a germaphobe. I think this is self-explanatory.

Beyond these five reasons however, there's really only one that perfectly justifies my choice to just workout at home.

My son made me a 'GO MA MA' banner and asked that I hang it in front of my treadmill in order to motivate me. He also placed a 'Way To Go' sign with his cut-out arrows right in front of me so that I won't give up and tire so easily. Isn't that just pure sweetness? I'm pretty sure no fancy gym anywhere in the world can offer me such heartwarming perks!

What about you? Do you have other non-lame reasons for staying out of the gym?