Sunday, April 27, 2008

CHRONICLES OF ISLA - Things that frighten me!


I'm pretty easy-going I'm told, but quite a few things make me JUMPY. Mommy has to do a lot of things when I'm sleeping. When she wants to vacuum, she has to send me out of the house with Daddy. I love it because Daddy takes me to McDonald's (for fries), enroute to picking up groceries. Except for turning around to say, "More French Fries!!!", Daddy never hears a peep out of me the whole shopping trip. Here are some things to skip doing when I'm in sight:

1. Don't even think about starting a vacuum within earshot, not even a hand vac.
2. Espresso machine in the kitchen
3. Blenders and food processors
4. Cars starting their engines near me when I'm walking outside
5. Cars driving on the road near me - I cling to Mommy's legs
6. Doorbell ringing
7. Someone knocking suddenly at the front door
8. Any sudden noises
9. Steamer (clothing)
10. Iron, especially when it steams
11. Any pots steaming (Mommy says this is a good thing I'm afraid of hot, steamy things)
12. Electric sweeper (sometimes)
13. Laundry room when the washer or dryer is working
14. The indoor grill
15. The roasting pan
16. The griddle
17. Coffee grinders at the grocery store

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Spider Woman - Goddess, Protector, Creator

Spider Woman,
Athena, Arachne,
Holda, Maya, Norswan

Concrete manisfestation
sends ripple upon ripple
forcing life into being

build your string
of connections
expand your web
of relationships
you spinner of magic
you protector of unborn children

create life
create abundance

dive into the pool

© Susan E. James

Update on Torran

Torran's septic work up results came back negative, meaning he has no infection. After this past week, and a number of techniques / choices by his parents and the medical team, Torran has recovered his strength. His hydrocephalus is increasing, however, along with his head circumference. For more info, click on the link to his blog on the upper right side bar to this page.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Chiropractic Team With A Heart

Life is the sum of all your choices.
~Albert Camus

This quotation strikes home for me. Where I am today is completely due to the choices I have made. I cannot point the finger and say it's because of this circumstance or that person. It is due to every choice I have made up until today. I own up to this. It's not good or bad; this is simply the way it is.

When every parent has a child, their lives are changed forever more. No question. When every parent of a premature baby delivers that child, or children, this *reality* is true 100 times more. Ask any parent of a preemie and they will tell you 10 gut-wrenching choices they had to make every day that child was in NICU and then when he or she or they came home, that number of choices did not diminish.

One choice we made (and not every parent of a preemie chooses this, but we did in our circumstances) was not to put Isla into daycare when she came home. She was in hospital so long due to the condition of her lungs. We didn't want to mess with that, and both of us were self-employed so that made it easier to arrange in the short term. We knew at the time that this was going to cause financial stress for us. And it has. And if we had to do it all over again, we would make the same choice again.

In the latter months, we have had to make some tough financial choices in various areas of our life. One such choice is to moderate the level of chiropractic care we receive. Thankfully, I get some coverage for Jacques and I through my union benefits but it does not cover what the 3 of us require on an annual basis especially since sixteen years ago, I was in a car accident and have ongoing upper back and neck pain that needs to be managed regularly.

So, we made the decision to drastically reduce the amount of care we would receive. I had a long, heart to heart conversation with my chiropractor, who offered to extend to us, due to our circumstances and all that we have gone through these past 3 years, a very generous arrangement which would ensure we didn't have to slow down our care.

Dr. Barb told her assistant, Leslie, about the arrangement in advance of our next visit. Leslie, in turn, had a brainstorm. She came up with the idea for an event, to hold in-house, to raise funds for our care. With Dr. Barb's approval, we are moving ahead with it. I cannot tell you how deeply we are touched by this gesture. It goes beyond Leslie's job description and also beyond Dr. Barb's duty as our chiropractor. This is a miracle I didn't expect (see my April 17 posting about Miracles below)!!!!

Here's the info from their flyer (and if you have any books you'd like to donate, the contact info is posted below):

Any Bookworm’s out there with a Big Heart?

Are you looking to increase your personal

library for a Great Cause?

Book Sale and Fundraiser!

Dr Barb will be opening her personal collection

June 2nd -6th, 2008

Bring, friends, family and anyone who loves to read.

All Proceeds made will be given to one of our very special patients and her family:

Isla Lauzon was born prematurely with an emergency c-section and has more medical tests at 2 years old then most of us have ever had! Her family has been amazing and she is a wonderful girl. Let’s help this extraordinary family with their care here in the office.

If you have a book you would like to donate, call:

(416) 944 1600
or drop off at: 43 Alvin Avenue, Toronto

(St. Clair and Yonge area)



Ever try malt vinegar and lemon juice together? I like the taste of any kind of vinegar and I like the taste of lemon juice. Today, Mommy gave me two tiny cups - one with a TBSP of malt vinegar and one with a TBSP of lemon juice.

I mixed them together and took a sip.

I shuddered a bit, then laughed.

And then, of course, I drank some more and laughed my head off all over again!!!

mmm, mmm Dhud (Good) !!!!

Love Isla

Monday, April 21, 2008

Isla's corrected birthday!

Two years ago today is when Isla was due to be born... not in January, as it happened. Time flies. Adversity settles down to a dull roar and then skulks away to hide. We have a "bumper crop" of friends undergoing difficult times right now. Here are some words of wisdom for them:

Count the garden by the flowers, never by the leaves that fall.
Count your life with smiles and not the tears that roll.

~Author Unknown

My joy was skipping
Around our love
It tripped.
~Valentine Sterling

The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief.
~William Shakespeare, Othello

You can't run away from trouble. There ain't no place that far.
~Uncle Remus

The greatest mistake in the treatment of diseases
is that there are physicians for the body
and physicians for the soul,
although the two cannot be separated.


To array a man's will against his sickness
is the supreme art of medicine.
~Henry Ward Beecher

There is no curing a sick man
who believes himself to be in health.
~Henri Amiel

The definition of martyr:
a person who sacrifices something of great value
and especially life itself for the sake of a principle;
affliction; torture;

If you're going through hell, keep going.
~Winston Churchill

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Chronicles of Isla - Foods I Like!

I'm 27 months on April 21 - my 2 years (corrected) birthday. This is what I like to et (eat)!

apricots - both dried and fresh
BBQ chicken wings - spicy ones from Longos
blueberries - love it
broccoli - used to love it; taking a break right now
cheerios - esp with fruit
cheese - Mommy and Daddy can't let me eat it right now
chicken - at long last, eat 50% of time
chocolate - I learned chocolate really fast
coffee and tea - I try to sneak Mommy's from her; it's dhud (good)
cookies - aka dooky (Mommy gives me more than Daddy likes)
cream cheese
cranberries - snack on dried berries daily - "have it!" (I want it)
dill pickle - not kidding! love it!
dragonfruit - mmmmm, mmmmm ... gobble it up faster than mango
fish - all kinds
eggs - it took a while. now it's "more egg, more egg!"
egg noodles = pasta
goldfish crackers - dietician says I can eat as many as i like!
grapefruit - I eat 2/3 of one by myself. I eat inside out like Grandpa!
grapes - aka beeps
habanero BBQ sauce - Mommy and Daddy are banjo eyed when I keep asking for dabs!
ham - sometimes
hamburgers - sometimes
hot chocolate - Mommy makes it with cream
hot cross buns
hummous - can never get enough; the staff at Triluxe was amazed!
ice cream - I get the edible oil version when Daddy and I go to mall
jam - NO peanut butter thanks!
ketchup - great on everything, even dill pickles
lemon water - the way Mommy drinks it
mango - another favourite
maple syrup
milk - but can't have it
oatmeal - has to be steelcut oatmeal. love it with raisins
olives - no kidding, keep coming back
parmesan - but not supposed to have it
pasta - any kind, cooked any way
pear - mmmmm, pear!
pizza - sorta
plantain - Mommy fries it and drizzles it with honey
potatoes - esp. french fries with or without ketchup
pot stickers - asian dumplings (with soy)
raisins - esp in my steelcut oatmeal
red pepper - sometimes when it's grilled
rice - brown, sushi, basmati ... all kinds
salsa - mild
sausage - sometimes, but don't give me a hot dog. ick! i'll starve first
soy milk - again, too much calcium for me!
sushi - I can only eat it with vegetables in it, no seafood yet!
sweet potato
Tater Tots - does that count as food?
tea biscuits
tortilla chips - whole grain
vinegar - I like licking it up
yoo-durt, er, yoghurt

Food That's Verboten (not allowed right now) because I still have high calcium in my blood:
- Dairy, my favourite food group! No cheese, yoghurt, milk, soy milk... no broccoli, oranges, ice cream, reduced amount of peas.

Mommy has to add cream instead of milk to my food and I can eat all the cream cheese I like.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


You don't need an explanation for everything. In fact, there are some events for which there is simply no explanation.

In today's world of sophisticated technology, advanced medical procedures and quantum physics, we take it for granted that we know almost everything. But we don't. Just the definition of quantum physics (in particular, the many-worlds theory) is a humbling enough experience and makes one realize how much there is to learn.

It also makes you realize that quantum physics is indistinguishable from magic, from miracles, from the Borg or the brotherhood of man. The microscopic particles in the dust at your feet, the solar system and each one of us are one. We are all connected.

You may wonder the reason for this rant? Well, the latest miracle, of course. Baby Torran has evaded surgery for his PDA. If a PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosus) is small, sometimes it can close on its own. Typically, a premature baby needs medicine or, if it's really big, surgery to stitch it shut. In some cases, the surgery is more invasive (as Torran was being prepared for and his rib cage would have had to be cut open) - as in traditional heart surgery.

And Torran had a really big PDA. 4mm. The same width as his aorta. He was being prepared for surgery. The consent forms had been signed. They did one last test and..... and it had closed to 1.7mm. PDA's that size don't normally close on their own. Rarely. Less than rarely, in fact.

There is no reason that can be given by the specialists at Sick Kids for this miracle.

I personally believe that prayer, positive thinking, lighting candles... all these focused activities tap into our collective spiritual self. Whenever I heard people talking about "the brotherhood of man" and how we are all one, that concept left me cold. I didn't get it. I don't really follow science fiction and I'm not a Star Trek junkie, but when the Borg was introduced as a character on that tv series, suddenly it clicked for me. It was something I could conceive - not understand how it works, mind you. I don't understand how my microwave works, but I use it every day. And perhaps because I don't understand how people can be connected, how people can see visions of loved ones just before they die, is why I can have this opinion. Again, quantum physics is coming back here - this time, the Copenhagen interpretation - mixed with spirituality. Both science and spirit are inter-related, not separate subjects, as modern man believes. The Renaissance Man had it right.

All this discussion of a collective soul leaves out the issue of God, or Goddess, or.... well, let's stop there - shall we?

No matter what your belief system, even if you have no spiritual faith, an extensive study done in the late 90's shows that people who are prayed for have less pain, heal faster, and better than those who are not prayed for -- even when the person didn't know they were being prayed for.... even when the subject had no spiritual belief. What is the reason? Who knows... I have my opinion. You don't have to agree with me. Just rack it up.... to a miracle.

If you can believe it, you can conceive it and you can create it. Belief is 95% of the way to accomplishing a miracle. Just like in Saint Ralph, the film I'm most proud to have worked on, by the way.

Now, back to wee Torran. He has escaped, temporarily at least, surgery on his PDA, but is facing brain surgery the high risk of needing it done soon. He has hydrocephalus and will need a shunt to correct it... if it progresses any further. The growth of his head circumference has either stopped or slowed and so far tests show there is no pressure being put on his brain. The pressure would cause brain damage. There is a remote possibility that he could have a spontaneous recovery. Anyone up for a little prayer? I'm sounding a little light-hearted here, because I'm so darned thrilled he has evaded surgery for the moment. But I'm serious about the request for prayer. Truly, Torran and his parents could use your help. See the link on this site to read up about him.

They believe in the same saints you do... in prayer... what they call spells you call miracles... they have priests...
~ Dr. Temperance Brennan, in "Bones"", 2005 (The Man in the Morgue - 1.19)

Miracles are not contrary to nature, but contrary to what we know about nature.
~ Saint Augustine

The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn't been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him.
~ Pablo Casals

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Fall down seven times. Stand up eight. ~ Japanese proverb

One of the defining moments in my life was when I realized, “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.” In October of my final year of high school, a number of us caught mononucleosis from a schoolmate at a party. I went down for the count. From October through to February, I didn’t attend a single class. Until then, just copying out a few notes tired me out so much, I had to nap for 3 hours to recuperate. Just having the lights on exhausted me. Never had any illness slain me this way. Finally, sometime in March, I started to struggle back to school on a very part-time basis and tried to keep up. One teacher would not cut my any slack, and I had to have his assignments in on time and write his tests along with my classmates. For the rest of my classes, I was about 2 weeks behind my deadlines. It suddenly dawned on me that I might not complete my year, that I may have to repeat this last year all over again. The rest of my friends would go onto university without me, and I’d be stuck in high school one more year.

For the first time of my life, I was motivated. For some reason, this struck fear into my heart. Perhaps the fact that over the years, my father, in frustration and running out of inspiration about how to motivate me to study and complete what projects I had started, would ask, “do you want to fail a year and see your friends pass you by?” Nothing before had lit a fire under me the way this situation did. I had cruised through all my schooling with sporadic, undisciplined stabs at studying; I had treated figure skating tests and competitions as playtime, not the least bit concerned about whether I succeeded; I had goofed off instead of practicing piano and working towards my music exams. All in all, I had led a pretty laid back life, unconcerned about which direction I was drifting. I was not the image of a winner.

Suddenly, I did a 180 degree turn. ON A DIME. Despite my fatigue, I stayed up night after night, working through the wee hours to get through my studies, to catch up, to pass. I’m not sure whether it was part of the process of healing or the long hours that made me even sicker. I hung on. It was agonizing. I wasn’t sure whether the fatigue from the mono or from my new self-imposed schedule was worse. All I saw was a looming deadline and not enough time or energy to absorb my work and churn out the necessary tests or essays. My boyfriend didn’t quite understand: at first I had been too sick to see him at all and now I was too crazed to spend any time with him. I was determined to make it through to graduation. And I did. After having missed over 50% of my classes, I went from cruising along with an unremarkable 60% average to graduating with straight A’s and zooming into university. I did better than most of my fellow students who had attended class the entire year.

This was an epiphany in my life, on many levels. The first is: don’t quit. Don’t ever give up. When you think you cannot make it to the end of the marathon, squelch that thought and keep going. Focus on nothing more than putting one foot in front of the other. The second is: your past performance is not a death sentence. Begin where you are and work steadily at your goal. And the third lesson is: you will fall down in life. When you do, pick yourself up and continue. Everyone fails somewhere, somehow. Look at Edison: he tried 1000’s of ways to make the light bulb. If he had given up after one attempt, or even 500, it would have been a lot longer before the modern era had artificial light. Look at Abraham Lincoln: he was born into humble circumstances and he had to struggle for many years to earn a living and to learn to read, write and do basic math. Yet, he was determined to surpass these obstacles. Not only did he become President of the United States, he is considered a founding father of the US, and his image is on their legal tender.

Just like in boxing, stumbling or falling down is not failure. Staying down is. It’s your persistence, your constant and determined effort that breaks down hurdles and leads to success.

When the world says, "Give up,"
Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."
~Author Unknown

Consider the postage stamp:
its usefulness consists in the ability
to stick to one thing till it gets there.
~Josh Billings

Nobody trips over mountains. It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain.
~Author Unknown

When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.
~Franklin D. Roosevelt

The greatest oak was once a little nut who held its ground.
~Author Unknown

He conquers who endures.


Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Power of Acceptance

It just so happens that I'm currently in a perfect storm: quite a number of my family, friends and associates are going through the greatest challenges of their lives. They are living in their darkest moment of fear and despair. When bad things happen to good people (the title of a book, by the way), how do you reconcile it? It's one thing to inventory your own past actions and decisions, to see and accept responsibility for how you have created your current reality, but what about those times when true, gut-wrenching tragedy hits - the kind that makes no sense in this world? While I believe we attract certain events to us, in some cases, that is too easy an answer. Sometimes, things just happen. What is important, what is our true test, however, is how we react to that event or information. That is where we have an opportunity to grow. There are two characters in Chinese which stand for the word 'crisis'. One character means 'danger' and the other means 'opportunity'. Perhaps this is where the answer lies.

If we look within ourselves and within our communities, we may see what opportunities there are for us to grow out of this adversity. If that's not possible, and the issues are solely internal, it's tougher. The trick is to learn to accept where we are now and what's happening. When we stop fighting the situation, and align our energies with it, we move towards resolution in our hearts and towards sorting out the remaining issues. Acceptance slays anger, and frees you up emotionally and psychologically to step forward.

On a personal note, this is an area under construction for me. I like to be in control of my life, the captain of my ship. Accepting life is not one of my strengths, because I believe we are responsible for creating our own destiny. I'm all Yang and not enough Yin. BUT, I'm learning the power of acceptance, of working with the flow and not against the tide. And I'm rooting for all of you in the same boat.


Sometimes what seems like surrender isn't surrender at all. It's about what's going on in our hearts. About seeing clearly the way life is and accepting it and being true to it, whatever the pain, because the pain of not being true to it is far, far greater.
-- Nicholas Evans

I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable,
but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.
~Agatha Christie

Thorns and stings
And those such things
Just make stronger
Our angel wings.
~ Emme Woodhulle-Bache

The darkest hour has only sixty minutes.
~ Morris Mandel

Archive - Along with Life, Comes Problems - March 19, 2008

I recently read something written by another mom of a premature baby (" [this] was the worst moment of our lives, [our baby] was the best thing that ever happened to us") and it prompted today's offering. I feel exactly the same way: Isla's early arrival was the worst thing to ever happen to me, but she is my joy, my treasure, the best thing that ever happened to me. And the adversity that we went through, while I never want to be tested that way again, has shaped me, my perspective for the better. I no longer get in a stir over petty issues, or get impatient while driving. Gratitude for life, for the sunrise, yes - even for difficulty or challenges along the way, is my new mindset. When you are so damn glad you all made it through this ride intact so far, you cannot help but be grateful.

Viktor Frankl, survivor of the Holocaust and psychiatrist, said it best:
"The one thing you can't take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one's freedoms is to choose one's attitude in any given circumstance."

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness,

it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way,

- in short, the period was so far like the present period,
that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received,
for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
~ Charles Dickens, "A Tale of Two Cities"

"For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin -- real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life."
~Fr. Alfred D'Souza

If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house in on fire, then you got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience.
~ Robert Fulghum

If you're going through hell, keep going.
~Winston Churchill

Archive - Live Now - March 13, 2008

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."
-- Annie Dillard

We lose the power of the moment because we're so rarely aware of it. We fritter away so much time, rehashing the past or worrying about the future. Meanwhile, we are just putting in time, instead of taking steps to our destination and enjoying the view along the way.

Treasure each moment and your life will be rich.

"If, before going to bed every night, you will tear a page from the calendar, and remark, 'there goes another day of my life, never to return,' you will become time conscious."

-- A. B. Zu Tavern
We are always getting ready to live but never living.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life's a journey, not a destination.