Beads of Courage and Bravery Buddies

Beads of Courage

As much as I try to shine a positive light on living with cystinosis and strive to treat Elsie like any other little girl, there is no denying that cystinosis can be heavy. She has a lot of responsibility pressing on her little shoulders and a lot of unpleasant experiences to endure. I’ve spent more than a few late nights worrying about how all of this is going to affect her as she gets older. More than anything I want Elsie to understand that she must take care of her body and stay compliant with her medications, while at the same time not feel burdened by them. She should be proud of her fortitude and resilience.

So when I learned about the Beads of Courage program, I was ecstatic. Beads of Courage is an arts-in-medicine program in hospitals across Canada, USA, Japan, New Zealand and the UK that help children with serious illness record, tell and own their story of courage through beads. Children are given different coloured beads for every procedure, scan, poke, etc, they do which allows them to share their stories with others and take pride in all they have overcome. Below is a great video explaining what the program is.

Did you get through that without tearing up? I made it until we met Scott and then lost it. Such a courageous young man ❤

I was so excited to sign Elsie up but when I went to the participating hospitals link, I found that BC Children’s Hospital, was not listed. Luckily they also have a Beads in the Mail program and I quickly applied for Elsie to be a part of it (note: if you are in Canada, like us, you need to apply on the Beads of Courage Canada site). We heard back quickly and I was sent a link to send in my request for beads! To start with they send you a length of string, white block beads spelling the child’s name and one bead for each category you request to signify treatments completed before enrolling in the program. Elsie was so excited to get her beads and repeatedly asked me when they were coming.

Elsie's Beads of Courage

I think they took about 3 weeks or so to arrive and when they did she was not disappointed. We went through all the colours, I told her what each one meant and she got to string the beads herself. She wore them around her neck for 2 days straight. Now whenever someone asks to see them she’s always so happy to pull them out and ask me what the different colours mean so she can tell them her story. I think her favourite one is the glow in the dark bead (it’s mine too, because glow in the dark man!).

I’d say the only draw back to the beads in the mail program is having to wait for the beads. I keep meaning to write them and ask if I can pre-order the beads when I know that appointments and blood draws are coming up. One of the goals of the in hospital program is to strengthen the relationship between the child and their healthcare team as they are the ones who present the beads in acknowledgement of what the child just bravely went through. So if I had the beads ahead of time, Elsie could also experience that part of the program.

In addition, they also have a sibling program and I plan to enroll Linden when he gets a bit older and stops putting everything in his mouth. Already he’s always trying to get his hands on Elsie’s meds and you can see how much he wants to be just like his big sister.

If you’ve never heard of Beads of Courage please take some time to check out their website. This is one of those organizations that I recommend everyone look into. If you don’t have a child with a medical condition, they are always looking for donations and they are making an incredible impact in so many children’s lives.

Not even two weeks after I’d ordered Elsie’s first set of beads I also discovered an amazing shop called, Bravery Buddies. A mother of two boys with cystinosis had shared the story of Bravery Buddies on Facebook as she was friends with the woman behind the stuffies. Her name is Leslie and she originally created some buddies for her three triplet sons who were each diagnosed with retinoblastoma. She wanted something they could cuddle with during their pre and post op recovery from the many surgeries they had and also something that could display the Beads of Courage they received during their treatments. The buddies have mouths you feed the beads into so they can be displayed in the clear pouch of their tummy.

After her three boys cancer became more stable she wanted to give back and help support other children going through their own medical journeys and Bravery Buddies was born. She uses Bravery Buddies Facebook page to spotlight these courageous children and each one receives a free buddy. If people would not like their children to be spotlighted or want to help financially support the stuffies they can purchase a Bravery Buddy on her Etsy page as all money made through the site is used to create more buddies.

Bravery Buddies

As you can see in the picture above Elsie loves her buddy, whom she has named “Pinky.” And as a fun bonus Pinky’s ears and legs were made by me! Leslie had posted that she was always looking for people to help make pieces of the buddies or even just donate fabric and I had a ton of fabric left over from various projects. The ears are from Linden’s first Halloween costume and the legs are left over from a cowl that I made Elsie, one of the first things I ever sewed on my new machine. I was so happy to be able to contribute and sent along a few sets of faces, ears and legs. Those little personal contributions make Pinky that much more special to me and Elsie.

If you have extra fabric on hand and maybe even some extra time please consider donating to Bravery Buddies. I can’t think of a better way to use fabric scraps.

It’s difficult to watch your child go through so many hardships and feel like you can’t do anything for them. Thankfully there are programs out there like Beads of Courage and Bravery Buddies that help parents like me do everything they can to empower their child and show them just how incredible they are. Elsie is the bravest person I know and I hope that she knows just how courageous she truly is.

I Hope He Knows

I Hope He Knows

The alarm goes off at 7:20am. I have 10 minutes before my three year old needs her medicine. I hate waking her up for meds, I  wish she could sleep as long as she needs. Before I can dwell on this I hear my 10 month old son start to cry, time to get up.

He greets me with the most beautiful smile and a laugh that seems to say “Oh hey, there you are. Did you know I was calling for you?” My heart melts. Time is running out and I can’t feed him immediately so I pick him up, grab the meds and head to my daughters room. He starts crying and squirming in my arms, trying to find his favourite food source. Poor guy, I wish I could instantly ease his hunger instead of prolonging it. I hope he knows how much I love him.

I sit beside her on the bed and cradle him in my arms. Finally he’s able to nurse. Gently I try to wake my daughter, but she is not in the mood. Thrashing and whining that she doesn’t want to take her medicine. I don’t blame her, it tastes foul and makes her nauseous. But, I remind her, it keeps her healthy so she can continue to run around and play with her friends. She doesn’t care, she’s three after all, long term advantages don’t mean much.

She’s getting worked up, kicking and hitting the wall, her bed, me and her brother. I have to stop him mid feed, put him on the floor for safety and then try to calm his sister. My sons cries fill the room, protesting that he wants more. My heart aches for his struggle but his sister needs some support right now. She needs to calm down and take her time sensitive medication.

After she’s relaxed a bit and taken her meds I immediately pick my son up and continue to nurse. He makes adorable little sounds, sighs of contentment that he’s finally back where he wants to be, snuggled with mom and eating, his happy place. I stroke his face and hair softly then put my forefinger in the palm of his hand so he can grab on. I gently rub my thumb over the back of his hand.

Suddenly my daughter gives a cough. Not a clearing her throat or fighting a cold cough but an, “I might get sick,” cough. After two years of living with cystinosis and taking awful medicine, I know that cough well. I desperately hope that she can hold off at least until her body has had enough time to absorb the meds.

We go downstairs and I ask my daughter to lie on the couch and watch tv. If she stays still and doesn’t get worked up there’s a chance she won’t get sick. If she’ll eat some food that’s even better. I let my son down and off he goes, patrolling the area for anything he can get his hands on, the more off limits the better. Then he’s pulling himself up on the couch trying to grab and play with his sister. My happy, busy little boy.

In the kitchen while making breakfast I watch them through the pass through. My daughter’s feet dangling off the couch. My son standing at the patio door, leaning against the glass and smacking his chubby little hands against it. Occasionally he presses his face to the glass, just for a taste, laughing to himself afterwards. It must be nice to be amused by everything.

Despite the rocky start to the morning his laughter and good mood are infectious. He gives me a sense of calm and happiness, despite my worries for the nauseous little girl on the couch. I hope he knows how much that means to me.

I let my daughter eat her eggs, 1 of only 10 or so foods she will consent to eat, on the couch. Anything I can do to keep her from getting sick. My son goes in the high chair for some baby mush the package says is oatmeal. He lunges for the spoon immediately and continuously between every bite, like he just can’t get enough. The difference in appetite between my children is almost comical. As I look over to see my daughter pick the tiniest piece of egg she can find and very slowly chew, it’s comforting to know that at least my son has a rich and varied diet. Maybe I’m not a total failure.

Seconds after taking my son out of the high chair, my daughter suddenly sprints into the kitchen, hands tightly clasped over her mouth. My heart sinks as I realize that all our efforts have been in vain. Leaving him hastily on the ground I go after her and find a bowl to place on the floor. I hold her hair away from her tiny face and gently rub her back while she looses the little amount of food she’d eaten. At least it’s been well over 30 minutes since she had her meds. I won’t have to administer them again.

Tired of being left to his own devices, my son chooses this very moment to need me too. He’s crying and leaning into me, grabbing and clutching to try make it clear that he wants up now. If only I could comfort both of my children together, but she’s still sick and getting upset that her brother is literally stepping over her to get to me. I hope he knows how much I want to comfort him as well.

Afterwards she starts to feels much better so I’m able to pick up my son and we all sit together and watch some more tv. He’s able to be close to me while he plays and she’s able to lie close to me while she gets some rest. Later, when it’s just me and my son in his room, I rock him in my arms and sing to him before nap time. Today I hold him a little bit closer, smell his hair and try to commit this moment to memory. My beautiful, squishy baby boy, leaning his head into my chest. So full of curiosity and laughter. Easy going and loving.

I worry that he feels left out when my daughter needs some extra attention. Maybe he doesn’t realize just how special he is. Special to me, to his dad and especially to his sister. I’ll never be able to fully articulate the kind of joy and wonder that he’s brought to this family. I hope he knows how important that is, how important he is, and how much his family loves him, now and forever.

I Hope He Knows

Listen To Your Mother

I am so super excited to announce that I will be reading a special essay on my somewhat unique perspective of motherhood at the very first Canadian production of Listen To Your Mother!LTYM Image 1

The inaugural Listen To Your Mother Vancouver show will be taking place on Saturday April 30th at 7:30pm at St James Community Square in Kitsilano and I can’t wait.

Listen To Your Mother (LTYM) is a one night event that gives motherhood a microphone. On their website they state their mission is to “take the audience on a well-crafted journey that celebrates and validates mothering through giving voice to motherhood–in all of its complexity, diversity, and humor.” It was started in 2010 by Ann Imig in Madision, Wisconsin and over the years has grown into an event taking place in over 40 cities across the US and now Canada! You can check out readings from every past show on their YouTube page.

I had the honour of hearing my fellow cast mates essays a couple weekends ago and I was completely blown away by the amazing talent as well as their hilarious, beautiful and touching words. I was surprised at how instantly I connected to all the pieces in some way and I hope that they found mine just as relateable. Some of the amazing cast include Rant and Roll, Spill It Mom, Andrea Paterson, Eran Sudds of Good Mother Project, Laughter Zone 101 and missteenussr.com.

It’s going to be a really amazing night and I’m excited (and also terrified) to get out of my comfort zone and do something I never, ever thought I would do. So if you’re in Vancouver and want to come show your support, tickets are only $20 and can be purchased here. I Hope to see some friendly faces there!

LTYM-2015-poster-template

Advice I Have For Parents New To Cystinosis

Shortly after Elsie was diagnosed with cystinosis I was lying awake in bed one night, my mind full of thoughts and me desperately trying to silence them, when an idea popped into my head. Maybe I should start a blog. I felt scared, alone and broken and hated the idea of anyone else feeling this way. There were so many questions I had and so many unknowns in Elsie’s future and I knew that there must be other parents out there who felt as I did. I wanted to help. I also hoped that writing out my feelings and the many, many thoughts that kept me up at night would give me some peace. Though I have certainly found a lot of healing therapy through writing I can’t say it’s done much for my overall sleep.

But my main motivation for sharing our struggles and triumphs publicly remained my desire to help others. Namely parents who would join our community after me. To think that I might be making the darkest time in my life a little bit easier for someone else gives me hope and a deep sense of connection to the cystinosis community. And to actually have someone thank me has been so fulfilling.

Most of what I want to share is sort of sprinkled throughout each post and not many people have time to read them all so I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned over the past couple years and the advice I would give to parents new to this whole adventure.

Advice for parents new to cystinosis

 

  1. Your journey is not the same as your child’s: Many say that cystinosis is often times harder on the parents than their children, I hope very much that this is true. In the beginning I was so angry that this was happening to my daughter, why couldn’t it be me to take all the pain? Someone so young and innocent did not deserve it. But right now I am the one who’s keenly aware of the injustice. I am the one who worries about making the right treatment choices and who frets about how much she’s eating, or how much she’s growing. Elsie however is happy and mostly care free. She doesn’t know any different nor does she lament it. She has the same childhood as any other kid with a few more added inconveniences but, at least for the moment, the fear and the heartache are all mine. I am in no way, shape or form trying to say that the parents have it harder, just that you are both hurting in different ways and I for one find comfort in knowing that I am at least taking the brunt of the emotional pain for Elsie.
  1. Look for the positives: That may sound like a ridiculous thing to say when your child is first diagnosed but there are silver linings to be found. You will be amazed at the strength and courage such a little person can possess and everyday will provide another opportunity to remain in awe of your child. This will also serve as either a wake up call or a reminder that the time to live life is now. Your child deserves the most amazing life and so do you. Don’t let fears or apathy hold you back, get out there and do it! My biggest silver lining has been the amazing and supportive community of parents, caregivers and adults with cystinosis. They ease my fears, answer my questions and give me hope.
  1. Be mindful about what you share: This is not something I overly considered until it was brought up in a writing group that I was a part of. Some people feared that in our mission to raise awareness and fundraise sometimes parents overshared and essentially took advantage of their children by using their pain and vulnerability for sympathy. Immediately I regretted sharing a picture of Elsie. It was minutes after her ng tube was inserted as she lay there, her eyes still red and face splotchy from her struggles. I shared it because she now had a visible sign that she was different. It broke my heart when they inserted it and I thought the weary look on her face represented how tough it can be sometimes. But that picture was taken after a very traumatic event for Elsie and she was extremely vulnerable. How would I have felt if that had been me? Would I have wanted that moment shared on the internet for the world to see?
  1. Don’t let it scare you from having more children (if you want more): After her diagnosis I became torn on whether or not we should have more children. We both wanted another baby and a sibling for Elsie but we also worried about having another child with cystinosis. The disease was still so new to us and we really didn’t know how it would affect Elsie long term. Was it the kind of life we wanted to give another child? Could we handle the guilt of knowing we’d given cystinosis to them if it happened? Since accidentally getting pregnant and having Linden join our family, I have to say that my outlook on this issue has completely changed. When I was pregnant I’d decided that I had to know if my unborn baby had cystinosis so I could be prepared and his Cystagon would be ready for him to take on day 1. So I had amniocentesis done to test the fetus’ DNA but it came with a 1 in 200 risk of miscarriage. Everything went well during the procedure but that night I had a fair amount of amniotic fluid leak and it was terrifying. I remember lying in bed crying my eyes out and wondering why the hell I cared so much. In that moment it didn’t matter to me if my baby had cystinosis or not, I just wanted him to be okay. And I realized that in the end that’s all that really mattered to me. Cystinosis or not this baby was meant to be in our lives and we were going to love him unconditionally.
  1. Hate is a strong word: I have heard quite a few adults with cystinosis say that they could never hate cystinosis because it’s a part of them. Just like having freckles or brown eyes, cystinosis is in their DNA and it has helped shape them into the person that they are today. There are many, many awful things that can happen as a result of cystinosis. Things that I would never want anyone to endure, let alone my precious daughter. My mama bear instinct is to immediately fight and loathe anything that dare cause Elsie harm but on the flipside I also love her absolutely and wholly. Saying that I hate cystinosis is saying that I hate a part of her and that simply is not true. While I dislike cystinosis and want to do anything I can to help researchers find a cure, I will never hate anything about her.
  1. Let them be kids: Most parents have a tendency to coddle their children and hold them back from things because we want to protect them and keep them safe. I’ve found that this tendency gets kicked up a notch after receiving a diagnosis. Elsie is prone to overheating quickly when exerting herself and rapid dehydration when sick, so does this mean that to protect her I should keep her out of sports and avoid social gatherings every time someone is not feeling well? The poor girl would miss out on the many benefits of organized sports and socialization if I held her back from everything that could result in a trip to the hospital. In fact she’d probably never leave the house! In order for her to have a well balanced, happy life she needs to be treated like any other kid. Yes there are precautions that need to be taken to try and minimize her risks and there will probably end up being certain things that she simply won’t be able to do but she also needs to be free to try, explore, get messy and live life fully.

There may be things on the list that resonate with you and some things that you don’t agree with and that is completely fine. Cystinosis affects everyone differently and my views may not make sense for your family. If that’s the case I hope that this post has at least opened your eyes to another way of thinking but also trust in your instincts and know that you are only trying to do what’s best for your loved ones. And if you are new to this whole thing please reach out to the community and join us in some support groups on Facebook. We are all here to help and answer any of your questions.

Last year I also wrote a letter to newly diagnosed parents for The Love Letter Project, you can read it here.

We Should All Care About Rare

Last year I read this post from Taylor’s Tale: Why I’m Still Fighting Rare Disease and was shocked by the staggering numbers of patients and issues involved with rare diseases. I have been wanting to do my own research and post something similar ever since and with Rare Disease Day coming up on February 29th now seems like the perfect time.

I love someone rare, anyone who’s ever read this blog knows that. And there’s a good chance that if you’re reading this, you too love someone rare. And that’s the ironic thing about rare diseases, they’re actually more common than you may think.

In Canada a disease is considered rare when it affects fewer than 1 in 2,000 people. About 1 in 12 Canadians are affected by a rare disease, roughly 67% of those are children. Currently there are over 7,000 known rare diseases and that number is climbing every year. With so many different diseases and each one affecting only a small and fragmented part of the population, expertise, treatment and research for each disease is extremely limited.

At the moment only about 60% of treatments for these rare diseases are available in Canada. And most of those were approved up to 6 years later than the USA and Europe. My family is currently experiencing this as the drug Procysbi, a slow release version of cysteamine, has been approved in the USA since 2013 yet it is still not available in Canada. As far as I know there is currently no timeline for when it could be.

The Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders (CORD) is a wonderful organization advocating on behalf of all those affected by rare diseases by trying to implement an Orphan Drug Policy (umm hello Canadian government it’s 2016, the USA has had one in place since 1983 and Europe since 1999!), implementing advanced newborn screening in all provinces and territories, increasing accessibility for genetic counselling, promoting innovative research and much more. In May 2015 they released Canada’s Rare Disease Strategy which, if implemented, would help Canada catch up to more than 35 countries that have already developed a national plan for rare diseases. Help them kick the Canadian government in the butt by signing this petition.

Out of those 7,000 and counting rare diseases about 80% are caused by genetics, like Cystinosis. And around 50% of those with a rare genetic disease are children, which is most likely due to the fact that the mortality rate for genetic disease is not great. About 30% of children with rare diseases will not live past 5 years old. Sadly it is estimated that 95% of rare diseases do not have one single FDA approved medication and with only 50% of rare diseases being represented by their own foundation to support research that figure will likely not change.

Global Genes is a worldwide advocacy group who’s mission is to eliminate the challenges of rare genetic diseases. Their website has some great resources including documentaries, patient stories, webinars and more. Their shop Rarehouse has some great toolkits like ‘Advocating for your child with a rare disease at their school’ and also some cute clothing and household items to help raise awareness. I like the ‘My Love is Rare’ t-shirt.


It’s estimated that 350 million people worldwide are living with a rare disease. This is why initiatives like Rare Disease Day are so important. Separately each rare disease and their supporters are small in number but together we are a large group of strong and mighty advocates. When combined rare diseases are in fact not all that rare and those of us who are either living with or dealing with a rare disease could use everyone’s compassion and support. There are tons of events and social media campaigns happening on and around February 29 (Rare Disease Day) so check out what’s happening in your country and please support us. You may not know anyone else with Cystinosis but with 1 in 12 Canadians having a rare disease I’m sure you know someone else with something else and supporting this cause supports us all.

Note: I got my facts from the CORD and Global Genes websites

New Year, New Medicine

 

New Year New Medicine

With the New Year ringing in I had high hopes that this year would be our best year with cystinosis. We’ve been living with it now for just over 2 years, have had lots of time to research, ask questions, learn about what everyone else is doing and coming to terms with it ourselves. So I was almost looking forward to our first visit of the year at the renal clinic (because who doesn’t love trying to contain a 3 year old in a tiny, sterile room for 2 hours) to see how Elsie’s levels were doing and how much more she’s grown.

The good news is that she continues to grow, at least in height. But unfortunately we just can’t get this girl to put on weight. Our doctor would like to see Elsie start to gain much more this year and I would love that too. Obviously her health is the number one priority but secretly I would also love to be able to buy her pants that fit her waist AND leg length. Right now she’s about a 4T in leg length but only a 2T in waist size. I know many people are probably shaking their heads at the shallowness of this but I’m telling you the struggle is real!

Anyway operation fatten Elsie up is officially on and so far I’m finding it difficult to brainstorm healthy ways to get more calories into her. She is so strong willed, I prefer to bang my head against a wall than to attempt talking her into trying something new. So in other words, you can forget about it! Sometimes she will tenderly touch the new food to her tongue, say it tastes good, but refuse to actually put it in her mouth. And our dietician is recommending that Elsie get about 1600 calories a day!

Basically our only option is to trick her into extra calories or work with what she does eat. Right now she loves eating butter, just straight up butter. Perhaps it’s time to just plop a stick of butter in front of her and be done with it? But I can’t imagine there are any long term benefits, or that she would feel very well after that. There is however a product called Duocal which is supposed to be a tasteless powder that you can add to food or beverages for added calories. We haven’t tried it yet but if it is indeed tasteless and doesn’t change the texture too much it would be perfect for adding to her water. We’ll be looking into where we can get it in the next couple days so I will update you guys on how it goes. And if anyone has any other ideas on how to trick a preschooler into more calories I’d love to hear them!

I’m also sad to report that another medication has been added to Elsie’s daily regime. The protein/creatinine ratio in her urine has increased significantly in the past 3 months, from around 300 mg/mmol to over 700 mg/mmol. For reference sake a normal range for someone without kidney disease should be less than 30! The amount of albumin in her urine is also quite high which we’ve been told suggests that not only are the tubules of her kidneys experiencing damage but now also the glomerulus.

To try and combat this additional damage to her kidneys our doctor has prescribed Enalapril, an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor that lowers blood pressure. Though she doesn’t have high blood pressure the hope is that Enalapril will lower the pressure in her kidneys so that they won’t have to work as hard and lessen the damage to them. Turns out that this is quite a common treatment to prolong the kidneys in chronic kidney disease patients so we feel good about adding it in with the rest of them. We’ll be testing her levels again in a few days just to make sure all is well so here’s hoping this will lower her urine protein/creatinine ratio.

2016 may not have started out as stellar as I was hoping, but it’s not awful either. The Enalapril will hopefully do it’s thing and getting some meat on Elsie’s bones is a good goal to have throughout this year. Luckily her brother is eating like a champ and then some so now she’s got someone to compete against and my girl loves to win!

Holiday Giving

Holiday Giving

Before having children the holidays were never really that big of a deal to me. It was always nice to have those few days that our family got together to celebrate and I loved trying to find that perfect gift for them but holiday cheer and activities were never high on my priority list. However since having Elsie, ever year I want to do more and more to celebrate and give her, and now Linden, that sense of wonder and amazement that I remember having as a child. Now that Elsie is old enough to start understanding Christmas, I also want her to learn the true holiday spirit of kindness and giving and have found the perfect thing for her, and all children!

Head on over to Emily Ley to purchase this awesome Random Acts of Kindness printable advent calendar. You get 25 RAK activities that can be done each day leading up to Christmas as well as 25 cards to hand out to your lucky recipients. It’s a great way to get your yourself and your kids involved in your community and spread some holiday cheer! And the best part about this advent calendar is that all proceeds are donated to the Cystinosis Research Foundation where 100% of donations go to funding research towards Elsie’s (and everyone else with cystinosis) future.

Check out Emily’s blog to learn why she chose to get start this amazing fundraiser for cystinosis.

Today Is a Miracle

If you’re looking for a Christmas present that also does some good in this world please also check out the shop Today is a Miracle. Started by Tahnie over at A Happy Girl to celebrate the 20th anniversary of her kidney transplant, $5 of every purchase is also donated to cystinosis research as Tahnie herself thrives and lives passionately while she brings cystinosis along for the ride. “Today is a Miracle” has become a phrase that resonates with so many people from all backgrounds and walks of life, whether they be health related or spiritually related struggles, I think everyone would benefit from the reminder.

As of late “Today is a Miracle” has become a reminder for me to stay in the moment and be grateful for my beautiful babies, as I struggle to find my place in motherhood and the challenges that parenting two children entails. When you’re home with them day in and day out its easy to get caught up in the everyday hardships of toddler tantrums, a baby that needs you for everything and just trying to keep these two little beings entertained and alive! I’m grateful to have a nice, comfy shirt that I can throw on and be reminded that despite everything I have two children that I love more than anything and who love me back and so much to be thankful for!

These are just a couple ideas on how you can also bring some thoughtful giving into your own holiday season and no matter where you are or how you celebrate I hope that everyone has some truly loving and wonderful holidays!