This weekend I aim to create memories. I am living a life with my daughter who is on borrowed time and although I certainly hope and pray she lives a long and healthy life with her transplanted heart, I also try to be cognizant of the fact that I have no guarantees. Now, no one really has any guarantees (see this horrific story about the dad and 11 year old son who lost their lives in the Nice attack yesterday), but my awareness of this is just a bit more acute with my DD.
Many of my favorite memories from childhood are those on the road. I didn’t always have the most pleasant of experiences at home. My father was an alcoholic, but for some reason, when we were traveling, he was usually pretty good about staying sober. I remember my mom reading to me (for some reason, I really remember reading Ishi one year on our way to Wyoming), listening to the AM radio as we drove through darkness on unfamiliar roads, waking up in a new place each morning. I remember one time in Arizona waking to the braying of a wild donkey (burro?) outside of our van at a rest stop. I remember going to museums and old ghost towns and zoos in other cities. We did a lot of things on these trips and they always felt like an adventure. We didn’t have super specific plans. There were no cell phones with GPS so we went by maps and stopped at Visitor Centers. We camped at rest stops and KOA campgrounds and state and national parks. And all of those trips created fond memories of family. That is what I want for my daughter. No one’s life is all good memories. She will have her share of hospital and medical memories that will not be great, but hopefully we can create some others that will be her true place of comfort and joy.
We (my DD and I) are going camping this weekend for the first time! I’m a bit terrified, but luckily we are going with three other families who have all been camping before. So, I think we should be okay. I went to Amazon this morning and ordered a blow up mattress (I think I had to throw ours out because it had a slow leak), a sleeping bag (how did I not own a sleeping bag?!?) and a couple of lanterns (which will function as flashlights when home, which we needed for emergencies anyways). I’m borrowing a camp chair and a tent and will share another family’s camp stove. I’m working my way through camping lists on Pinterest trying to make sure I don’t look like a total rookie despite being a total rookie.
We camped a lot when I was younger, but we always had a trailer or van conversion that we slept in. We were definitely NOT tent campers. So, we had a sink and refrigerator in the van. We had beds. We didn’t have to “set up” anything when we decided to pull off and sleep for the night. I guess I was a bit spoiled. We spent many a night in a parking lot or a rest stop or something similar. If at a rest stop, we would get up and bust out the camp stove on a picnic table and make breakfast and then get back on the road. I loved the way we traveled. It was relatively simple and minimalist. We didn’t need a ton of stuff and could pick up things along the way. I want to capture that same simplicity for Bean. I am trying to decide if we can take the Prius or need to pay extra for gas and take the SUV. I am leaning towards the latter just because it would give us plenty of space, dirt roads would be easier to take and we could always sleep in there if everything went to hell. 🙂
We are going to a lake and I am already paranoid about her swimming in it. We will probably try to do more paddle boats and such to keep her dry but enjoying the water. The water will probably be too cold for her to spend much time in it anyways. I am sure we will have a grand old time. I am looking forward to sharing an experience that I really enjoyed as a child her age with her and I hope I can make many memories with her out in nature! I am also looking forward to taking books to read and not much else. No iPad, no laptop – I will take my phone, but I don’t expect to be able to use it much. It will be nice to have a tech vacation and see what we can do!
I am quickly coming to the conclusion that there really is no such thing as simple. According to the Oxford Dictionary, simple is: easily understood or done; presenting no difficulty. Not much about my life seems easily understood or done. Much about my life presents some difficulty. But, I’m not sure this is all bad. As the saying goes, nothing easy is worth pursuing.
The last few weeks have been tough. I didn’t sleep particularly well before leaving for the pre-hospital trip, getting grading done and the house cleaned up. Then there was the hospital, where I didn’t really sleep at all one night (in the CVICU), barely slept the next night and slept on and off the next couple of nights. I slept a bit better back at home, but Bean was still up every few hours complaining of pain or needing to move. My husband left for five weeks a few days after we got home and soon after I left my DD at my in-laws to go to a conference in San Diego. The first night, my MIL called me with Bean scream crying in the background, saying she was upset because she had forgotten to call me to say goodnight. That was obviously not the reason she was scream crying. She was scream crying because she wanted me THERE, with her.
My mom guilt was extremely high. I should not have left her so soon after she went through so much. I’m afraid her anxiety will come back due to this craziness. How important was this conference (well, it was pretty important because I need it to work on this year-long project I am working on)? Could I have figured out a way to bring her here (tough one…it is expensive and difficult logistically)? Should I just give up on making it all work (probably…let’s face facts)? From there, things got much better and she was fine. So, on the roller coaster of mothering, I was on the short, fun drop instead of the upside down, traveling way to fast to be comfortable part of the ride.
We’ve been home now for a little over a week and things are going pretty well. Although, she missed two days of VBS this past week with a fever, so there was a bit of panic for that. But, it must have been some 24 hour bug because it was quickly gone.
I also didn’t get one of her medications in the monthly delivery, but when I called the pharmacy they said the doctor had not sent a refill. When I called the doctor, it was a problem with pre-authorization. And it turns out, we can just buy this stuff over the counter for about the same cost as the copay (maybe cheaper if I can catch it on sale). So, we took care of that issue.
So, this is what I mean by NOTHING being simple. But, I think that gives me all the more reason to simplify whatever parts of my life I CAN simplify. So, decluttering my house (I feel like I have rid myself of VOLUMES of stuff in the past six months, but we still have VOLUMES AND VOLUMES of stuff left. What is with that?!?), decluttering my schedule and establishing routines so I don’t have to constantly think about what I should be doing next is vital. I want to surround myself with things I love and enjoy and that make me feel peaceful and content. Then, when the inevitable complexity of life pops up, I can not only survive, but thrive.
I am quickly approaching my 48th birthday (what the heck?). I want to live up to what this blog title suggests…being more in my 40s. I have a limited time to achieve that though. A very limited time indeed.
First, illness sucks. It especially sucks when the person who is ill is 7 years old and just spent three weeks recovering from surgery. That’s right. My DD, who had just started feeling better a week ago (after her pacemaker surgery) seems to have picked up a flu bug or something. She woke up last night at 2 a.m. complaining of stomach pains, was awake and asleep and awake and asleep the rest of the night, was determined to go to VBS today so she could have her planned play date with a school friend and then one hour into it showed up where I was volunteering crying about her stomach really hurting and having a headache. So, we came home. She took Tylenol, watched TV for about an hour and then slept for over three hours. She woke up feeling better, ate a small amount of yogurt and raspberries and a cracker, drank some water…and about an hour later threw all that up. 😦 She is now asleep again and I’m thinking no VBS tomorrow and probably a trip to the pedes. Poor thing. She can’t catch a break…I’m hoping it is a 24 hour thing and she will be all better tomorrow, but with her immune system, it could be a while.
Second, flies suck. We always have a problem with flies. We live backed up to a giant field where everyone walks their dogs and lets them poop and cats go to poop and probably kill things and then we have our own pooping dogs in our backyard. So, we have a crap ton of flies all the time in the summer. They seem especially bad right now. I hate them. I wish I felt comfortable just spraying the toxic fly spray all over our yard, but I don’t. So, I have a fly trap in our tree, which has trapped a lot of them already, but there are all those plus more flying around back there and subsequently into our house every time the backdoor is open, which is often with a puppy. Hate, hate, hate them. If anyone has any non-toxic suggestions, I would love to hear them. I tried the pennies in a bag of water last year and it was a fail. So, please, something other than that!
Third, because there has to be something that doesn’t suck on my list, bulldog puppies are hilarious. Our new puppy, Scout, is a character. Bulldog puppies are much less energetic than lab/shepherd mixes, but she is plenty entertaining in her own way. Often in the way she sleeps! And snores. What isn’t funny is her gaseous fumes she releases on us! But, she has been a great addition to our family zoo! For your enjoyment, a lovely picture of her and our Seven snuggled up together:
So, there you go – my Tuesday Truths this week. Back to worrying about my DD and hoping her illness goes away quickly!
This week is focused on a simple resource you probably have in your community, but may not be utilizing. Your public library.
My DD and I then went to our county library yesterday. We used to go the library once or twice a week before she started school, but we’ve not been going as much in the past year and a half or so. I’ve missed it. I love the library. I have talked about it in a previous Sunday post (over a year and a half ago) and nothing has really changed. I realize that some people have not been library goers for their entire lives (my mom started me quite young), so I thought I would share my top five reasons (there are so many) to visit your local library and check it out:
First, it is FREE! No strings attached (other than meeting return deadlines). No free today, but your credit card will be charged in four weeks and for the remainder of your natural life. Every library offers slightly different services, but our library has movies, audio CDs, ebooks, book clubs, activities for kids, etc. It is worth checking out what your library has to offer.
Second, it is quiet. Well, relatively. If you need a place to escape to where you don’t have to purchase a $5 coffee and listen to the person at the next table talk about their upcoming visit from in-laws on their cell phone, this is a good spot. You can’t eat and drink in the library at ours, but they have a great grassy area just to the side of the library that makes for good picnicking and some libraries have rooms where you can eat and drink.
Third, it is constantly changing. Much like the local bookstore, but without the price tags, our library is constantly changing up the books on it’s front tables. It has art work that changes every few months. It offers new selections constantly and often has new activities to try out (we have a knitting group, a book club, a chess club for teens, family movies on Sunday afternoons – with popcorn). I am always curious to see what they have and what they have going on.
Fourth, and this is parent-specific, your kids can look at books, play with toys and use a computer without you having to worry about buying it later! BONUS: Other adults are there too! I have tried to teach my daughter that we don’t need to buy something every time we go to a store. And we often don’t. But, it is always a battle. At the library, when she finds a book she really likes, I can feel good about saying, “let’s get it”. I can also feel good about bringing it back when she has read it and will never look at it again! Our library has blocks, felt boards, puppet theater with puppets, etc. It is air conditioned, so in the hot months, it is a great alternative to the park. They have coloring sheets and crayons and pencils. And usually, you can find a friendly adult to chat with while your kids play. It feels safe. It feels comfortable (I’m not constantly fretting about what she can and can touch). It is enjoyable without costing a penny. I can sit and read a book myself, or look at magazines, or even work on something and she is in a safe, cool space.
Fifth and most important, it helps to keep much-needed public spaces available in our communities. When the big bookstores came to town, a lot of libraries struggled to prove their need in the communities. Funding was cut. Hours were cut. And if people don’t use these services, demonstrating that the community supports and NEEDS these services, the cuts will continue. We are lucky to have a supportive community, so our library is actually expanding hours back in the Fall (they had made significant cuts a while back). Public spaces that offer resources for everyone are important to me. Although I can afford to go to Barnes and Noble or shop online at Amazon to buy my daughter books (we actually buy quite a few at thrift stores, because reuse, recycle, etc.), I want every child, no matter what their financial circumstances to be able to access books and literacy programs and a space that is inviting and encouraging of reading. I also want adults who do not have computers in their homes to have access to those resources. My parents used the public library computers for a dozen years, never choosing to have a computer in their home. Many seniors and homeless individuals use the computers at the library to get access to needed resources.
Public spaces can be scary. After all, they are so, well, public. Homeless people do use the library much more often than Barnes and Noble (although, sometimes they are in the cafe there). And to some people, that is a bad thing. But, to me, this is reality. And facing the individuals in our communities who are not thriving hopefully will help us remain a community rather than being divided by social class. We have prided ourselves on NOT being a society based on class division, but we have created these consumerist walls of division between those of us who can participate in that consumerist lifestyle and those who can’t/don’t. I think that doing more to create community through our public spaces is important. And if homeless people abuse the public space, they should be removed (and hopefully provided with the help they need, although that is another area of funding that has gone to the wayside in recent decades – our mental health services have collapsed, but I will leave that for another post), but just because they may not be dressed as nice as we are or smell as good as we do or have their hair styled does not mean they don’t deserve to be recognized and served as the humans they are. I like that the public library provides a space for all of use to coexist.
This week’s Wordless Wednesday is going to be focused on our new puppy. Why do we have a new puppy? That is an excellent question. But, we do and she is very cute. We were given her by an incredibly generous former student of mine who had bred her dog and had a large litter. So…introducing Scout:
We are home! I am amazed that we actually made it home in the least amount of time they estimated – four days. It was not an easy four days and I did not sleep well or comfortably the entire time. So, I am exhausted. Bean is the same. In fact, she is napping as I type this. Hospitals are tiring. There is no good rest to be had, there is no real comfort to be had…and the food isn’t very good. So, I am extremely happy to have a weekend at home post-hospital.
Happy to be home, but exhausted.
The pacemaker placement went well. All seems to be healing as it should be, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt or that she is ready to enjoy summer. We did some shirt shopping this morning to give her looseness and comfort while the incision heals, but she got very tired quickly and the pain came back. So, we only made it to a couple of stores and then we were back home, resting. Which is fine. A little bit at a time. Here are some pics from her hospital stay and coming home: