Isabela

Change is afoot in the Sieminski household!

You may have noticed a new face in our family photos from Peter’s birthday party. That is our au pair Isabela.

We welcomed Isabela into our home a few weeks ago. She will be living with us and helping us care for the kids over the next year. Isabela is a 2nd year au pair from Sao Paolo, Brazil. She was in country last year in Vermont just outside of Dartmouth College. We’re so happy she matched with us. She an amazing addition to our family. We love her so much and it’s only been 2 weeks!

Nora just started pre school at Big City Montessori School (BCMS) and she will be there for the next 3 years.

Peter will head off to Little Scouts (the fabulous in-home day care that Nora just graduated from) next September. After a year or two there, he will join his big sis at BCMS.

Over the next couple of weeks/months, I will prep myself mentally and emotionally to return to work. In a perfect world, I’ll ease back in with a part-time job – but there aren’t that many part-time HR jobs out there, so we’ll see. I’m going to take a SHRM review course to brush up on my HR skills (and possibly re-certify with them as a SHRM-SCP) and then start looking for and interviewing for a job. I’m still credentialed as a PHR through HRCI but I’m in suspended status with them until I get my remaining 30 units of continuing education in. I have until July 2018 to get those done.

Apologies for all the HR talk and slang above! The point is, being a stay-at-home mom was super rewarding, but extremely hard work. Lately, I’ve felt suffocated by it all. Carrying the mental load of our home, plus caring for Peter full-time proved to be more than I could handle. I felt like I was falling down on the job for him. My energy is low after the past 5 years I’ve had and I fear he is suffering as a result. So we made the hard decision to bring someone else in to help us out. Someone who is young, with energy to take Peter out on adventures and play dates.

Anyway, this post is about Isabela – my thoughts on throwing in the towel on being a stay-at-home mom, as well as, my fear and simultaneous excitement about returning to work are fodder for another post….

Be sure to press play on the video below – you don’t want to miss this one!

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Peter’s First Trip Around the Sun

A few weeks ago we celebrated Peter’s 1st birthday. It’s incredible to me how quickly this year has flown by. Peter is growing like a weed. He weighs just over 21 pounds (for reference his nearly 3 year old sister weighs 24 pounds! – but she’s a peanut!) and is thriving.

He’s super chill – enduring a daily onslaught of over enthusiastic hugs, kisses and squeezes from Nora. She goes ape sh*t every single time she sees him. Poor guy. I keep telling Nora that he’ll outweigh her before long and he’ll exact his revenge 🙂 But when does reasoning with a toddler ever work?! So she’ll have to learn that lesson the hard way…

Milestone-wise, Peter is a different kid than Nora, and that’s fine. He’s taking his time to find his words and motivate himself to walk. Our pediatrician assures us he’s just perfect and a “boy”. I guess that translates to a bit slower to hit milestones?

Overall, my boy is so happy and smiley. He can keep a giggly game of peek-a-boo going for 15 minutes. And I’m always happy to oblige. There’s no sound on the planet as wonderful as a baby belly laugh.

Below are pics from Peter’s special day. Thank you to all of our friends and family who came out. Especially to Dr. Katz and the Conklyn’s. We felt very honored and humbled to have Dr. Katz celebrate the child whose life he saved. If it weren’t for him, we would not have Peter in our family. I thought that’s unbearable to me.

And to the Conklyn’s – who knew last summer as Katie and I lay in hospital rooms next door to one another going through the same medical experience – what a life long bond would be formed. We can’t wait to continue to watch your miracle boys grow up!

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Pinktober – Enough with the Pinkwashing

It’s that time of year again. Thought I’d throw a little information your way to help you navigate all of the pink washing that’s a’comin’

1 in 8 women will get breast cancer. 30% of those initially diagnosed with early stage disease will go on to become metastatic (aka Stage IV). 4% of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients are Stage IV at initial diagnosis. 113 people die from Stage IV metastatic breast cancer (MBC) each day in the US. There is no cure for Stage IV and only 2-5% of research funding goes to MBC.

What we need is to find a cure for this disease. We don’t need pink mugs, pink scarves and/or pink ribbon keychains.

While some women live for years with Stage IV disease, others do not. Their collective voices aren’t always able to be strong as they’re enduring treatment while simultaneously trying to live life.

It’s up to US to make their voices heard. To demand money be directed toward finding a cure and supporting actual individuals living with metastatic disease.

This year I’ve lost 2 friends to MBC, and their deaths should mean something. I have another 5 friends who are living with MBC and I fear 2 of them will die before long. This is scary and so sad.

Please do me (and every other person you know who’s been diagnosed with breast cancer) a favor, and don’t get sucked into the pink washing. Please ask where the funds for pink products are going. Please research those organizations to see if any of that money actually goes toward patients or research.

I’ll make it easy for you. Below is a list of 4 organizations I think you should give your money and time to, if you’re so inclined. Just skip the rest of the noise….

Breast Cancer Action
Breast Cancer Action is not your average breast cancer organization. We’re fiercely independent and refuse corporate funding from any company that profits from or contributes to breast cancer. That means we can ALWAYS put women’s health first.

We’re focused on achieving health justice for all women living with and at risk of breast cancer. Radical and compassionate, we never shy away from the hard truths. We tell it like it is about breast cancer: 40,000 women die of this devastating disease every year, and we don’t have nearly enough to show for the billions of dollars raised in the name of breast cancer.

BCAction was founded in 1990 by a handful of women who were living with and dying from breast cancer and who demanded answers about their disease. Today, BCAction is a national grassroots organization with members across the country. Together we’re challenging the status quo and working to address and end the breast cancer epidemic.

Metavivor
METAvivor is the only organization in the US that exclusively funds MBC research through a scientific peer-review process. We award research grants to individuals with a clinical or other doctoral degree who are actively engaged in areas of metastatic breast cancer research, and whose proposals show distinct promise in making a difference for the stage 4 breast cancer community.

Our mission is to transition metastatic breast cancer from a terminal diagnosis to a chronic, manageable disease with a decent quality of life.

100% of proceeds from every fundraiser (after event expenses) goes into our research grants.

Breast Cancer Prevention Partners
A science-based advocacy organization that works to prevent breast cancer by eliminating exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation.

BAYS
Bay Area Young Survivors (BAYS) is a support and action group for young women in the SF Bay Area who are living with breast cancer.

Through monthly support group meetings, an online network, and community-building events, BAYS members share information, experiences, and resources. Our goal is to break the isolation of living with breast cancer by providing a community built on compassion, understanding, hope, and inspiration.

Peter is 9 Months Old Today

Whoosh! Time flies! Peter is crawling and pulling himself up on furniture. No rest for the weary in this household!

As you can see from the pics below, this boy loves food and his sister 🙂 He’s going to outweigh her pretty soon.

We moved into new house (still in the city) two weeks ago, I’ll post more about that and the sale of our old house very soon. It’s just been a little hectic with all the packing, unpacking and balancing of kiddos the entire time. So stay tuned for a super fun post very soon.

xoxo

 

 

Janet

It’s hard to believe I was just sitting with you on your couch 72 hours ago. Talking about deep and heavy things, as well as perfectly mundane stuff.  You taught me so, so much. In the way that you lived and the way that you died.

Your memory is a blessing. I’m privileged to have known you. May you rest in peace.

In a Hurry
Janet S.
I want to see, touch, do, taste, smell, feel everything. I want to go everywhere, walk the earth, climb the mountains and snowboard down. Try everything at least once.
Lots to do, I’m in a hurry. Not much time left. How long do I have before the cancer makes it impossible? Narrows the world to just my room, my doctor’s office, the hospital? I don’t know, I can’t know.
Time wasted planning for a future I don’t have. Working to save for a family I will never have. No more, I’m here now to experience everything. To dance and sing and laugh around the world and at home.
But, I can’t do it all. No lifetime is enough to experience everything. To watch the sunrise from space.
I will see, touch, do, taste, smell, feel everything I can. In my lifetime, however long or short it may be. And it will be enough.

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Peter’s 8 months old today!

I can’t believe it’s been 8 months since Peter was born! He’s such a happy guy, always smiling and giggling, especially when Nora is around.

He’s eating solids and crawling around on his stomach and all fours. It’s pretty funny to watch – he sort of looks like an inch worm! It gets the job done though – he’s moving around the room pretty easily and fast. We had to bust out our pack n play so that we can confine him and keep him safe if we need to leave him alone in the room for a second or two. He still can’t sit up on his own – but we’re starting to make some progress on that front.

All in all, he’s just the sweetest love bug.


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Life’s Difficult Lesson

5.1.2017

We all die. That’s the one universal truth, I suppose. Nobody approaches this topic better than my friend Janet (see all my links below to her talk, music video and article). I met her through BAYS and boy am I glad I did. She is a spitfire and she is wise. She is a bright light and she is intense emotion. She is alive and she is dying. She is a contradiction. She is…..well, she just is.

Janet’s been metastatic for many years. She’s enjoyed periods of non-treatment and periods of intense treatment on and off for 10 years.  The first time Janet and I hung out one on one a few years ago, we talked about her reality. She’s the first Stage 4 metastatic person I’ve ever been close to. She told me that she’ll be in treatment for the rest of her life until the treatment simply stops working or she decides to stop treating.  Plain and simple. Black and white.

See, that’s what I adore about her. No bullshit. When she paid me a surprise visit early on during my bedrest stay with Peter. She didn’t mince words. A pediatrician herself, she knew the shit we were up against. I told her some of my naive thoughts, and she calmly, yet gently brought me back to earth. Preparing me for the potentially devastating outcomes that might’ve been for Peter. I’m so grateful to have someone like that in my life. A straight shooter who cares and comforts at the same time. Perhaps its the cancer club that makes us this way? I dunno. But it’s a sisterhood beyond anything I’ve ever experienced in my life.

Now, it’s my time to be there for Janet.  She’s at a crossroads and her treatment is diminishing her quality of life — which until this point — has been exceptional. When I sat with her at her house last week, she shook her head and told me “This isn’t living. How I feel — this sick and weak– this isn’t a life.” I read between the lines, but she went on to be very clear. She’s seriously contemplating stopping any further treatment. Chemo isn’t working. Isn’t going to extend her life measurably and is making her feel like shit. Rendering her useless on the couch all.day.long. For someone who scales mountains on the regular — she is down and out.

In the non-cancer world, we’ve all been conditioned (for some odd reason) to rally and cheer and champion someone who is dying. “keep fighting” “don’t give up” “you got this” “are you sure?” “just a little while longer” “keep going”.

Now that I live in the cancer world, I intrinsically know that when someone tells me they’re done — I get it. It’s not something to decide on a whim. It was extremely heart wrenching for me to just nod my head at my friend, blinking back my own tears, while holding her hand and telling her it’s ok if she wants to stop treatment. Make her *feel* my support for her decision. Don’t put her in position to comfort me. Don’t put her in position to defend her decision. Selfishly, of course, I want her here on earth as long as possible. But realistically, at what cost to her? It’s not worth it. I love my friend and I want what she wants. Only she knows what’s best for her. I’m just here to support and love her.

Oddly, when Janet visited me in the hospital when I was on bedrest with Peter. I remember making a joke that “surely this penance will buy me out of any cancer recurrence or metastasis, right?!” I went on to say that if I were to get cancer again, I wouldn’t have the strength to enter treatment again. Having been knee-deep into bedrest at that point I was physically and emotionally spent.  I was tapped out. Janet didn’t say what most would….. “oh don’t worry, you won’t get cancer again!” She didn’t shy away from it. She simply said “you’ll find the reserves to do it. you just will.”

Knowing that’s how Janet approaches life. I fully respect her decision to be done. I know she found her reserves and she’s tapped them to the max. Damn, has she ever lived. I am truly honored and privileged to know her and hug her and love her. I will continue to do so for as long as I can.

Below are links of Janet’s speech, music video and an article about her. Janet I LOVE you and insist on celebrating your great, big, bold life NOW.