Archive for the 'Drama' Category

Not the most efficient way to smuggle Hawaiian coral to the mainland…

Alternate title: Some people will do anything for a souvenir (stolen from my friend Melissa who said that to me on Twitter.)

We all know I’m a HUGE fan of irony. Because of this, I’m finding some delight in this story, along with the pain.

Without further ado, here starts my tale…

Remember when we went to Hawaii? I mean, how could you forget? I only mention it daily.

Well, when we were in Kauai, we decided to go snorkeling. The snorkeling in Maui was fantastic, and we’d heard that the snorkeling in Kauai was incredible, too!

We couldn’t wait.

We rented gear, and the clerk at the store told us some hot spots to go. We followed his instructions and found ourselves at a nice beach near Poipu. Other people were also out snorkeling, so we thought this would be great!

We find a place for our bag, put on our gear and head to the water. The best place to go into the water looks to be over these dark rocks. Lava rocks? Roundish wave-beaten rocks? That doesn’t look too dangerous, plus, that’s got to be the only way in from here…so let’s go!

If you’ve never walked with flippers on and tried to get in the water during high tide, you won’t know how difficult that really is to execute. I’m in the water for approximately 17 seconds and I slip and fall. In an attempt to catch myself, I put my right hand down and my knee scrapes against one of those rocks.

I feel a sharp cutting pain in my right thumb, and I pull it out of the water to see what looks like a knife slice. Amongst the rocks? CORAL. I have blood streaming down my palm and my wrist. I call out to my husband who in an attempt to reach me slips and slices his finger.

We both determine that we can’t get out to deeper water at this rate, and we try to turn around to get out of the water. The high tide does the rest and we’re washed back up on the beach, a bedraggled and bloody mess.

Sweet! This is not how we expected to start the day! How in the blankety-blank are those other people out there snorkeling!? We KNOW to avoid coral. Every time we go out, we make a conscious EFFORT to avoid coral. Explaining this to the coral does no good.

My thumb is killing me, but I’ve clamped it enough with my index and middle finger to get it to stop bleeding, somewhat. I have an emergency first aid kit with us, but it’s back at the rental car. We do not, however have any form of paper-towels or tissues of any kind.

Long story short, we find some toilet paper to use in the women’s bathroom, and we get ourselves disinfected with some anti-bacterial wipes and all bandaged up with some bandaids from the emergency pack. During this debacle, and in the search for paper products of any kind, we see a small strip of sand leading out to the water. That’s where we went into the water and did so without incident.

…until it was time to call it a day.

From out there, that tiny strip of sand was nearly impossible to see. We saw the rocks, which we avoided at ALL cost.

As it happened, there was a snorkeling tour in the water at the same time. When their guide made his way to the beach and stood on the tiny strip of sand directing his people to come toward him, we just pretended that we knew where it was all along. 😉

So, that’s harrowing, right? It was about time I got hurt. I was wondering when it was going to happen. It was my luck that it happened on October 20th, just a couple days before we left for the mainland.

That late afternoon, when we got back to the hotel, we assessed the damage in greater detail.  My husband’s cuts didn’t look too bad.  The scrape on my knee was just a scrape.  Then, we looked at my gross thumb. It appeared to be a puncture at the bottom of the cut and the slice of a knife up and through the joint. Yay! I mean, if you’re gonna go, go all out.

In our expert medical opinions (ha!), we determined that it didn’t need stitches. I cleaned it again, slathered it in Neosporin and bandaged it. It was painful, but I didn’t let it ruin my trip.

Fast forward to Friday, November 12th. I’d been keeping a close eye on my thumb, because I’d heard from our guidebooks and confirmed with Dr. Google that the thing to watch for with coral cuts is infection. My thumb had only looked angry the day after I’d cut it, and more disinfectant seemed to do the trick. It appeared to be healing nicely, but it was still really tender. It was hard for me to open jars and bottles, but that was about it.

So, Friday rolls around, and I’d noticed that my thumb was healing nicely but was still really painful when I bent it. I also noticed that there was a bump forming in the cut. I couldn’t tell if it was scar tissue or if something was embedded.

He looks at it with the fancy-schmancy magnifier and announces that he thinks there is not one, but two somethings in there. Or it’s scar tissue. He then offers to disinfect one of his blades and do some exploring.

He claims he was joking, but I wasn’t taking any chances, so I called the doctor, and luckily, was able to get in that afternoon.  My husband had the day off and could keep Claire occupied, so this was perfect.

The actual procedure was very tedious and took forever, but when it was all said and done, the doctor had removed two pieces of coral from my thumb and stitched me back up.  (Letting the scar tissue continue to build around the pieces would interfere with the joint in my thumb.)  I then had strict orders to not get it wet until at least Sunday and was told the doctor stitched my thumb with thread that will dissolve on its own.

So, let me recap: A cut that was healing quite nicely had to be sliced open again, this time requiring at least one stitch. A cut that I received while in the water couldn’t get wet.

Irony to the rescue!

So, here’s a picture of my thumb the day I had my impromptu surgical appointment at the doctor’s office. I’ve spared you the gross and gory picture. You’re welcome. I’ve softened it by playing with it in Photoshop so that you can’t see the gross wound. You can still see the iodine all down my thumb. (Trust me when I say this picture is gross without alterations.) They numbed my thumb with 5 needles, which was incredibly painful, and my thumb is still tender to the touch there, too. Irony, there you are again! Some of those shots also stopped the blood flow so that the doctor could see what he was doing.

I've circled the wound.

Now, I get to go through the healing process again. My thumb is incredibly painful, and it’s hard for me to do even the simplest of tasks. Typing is getting slightly better, but holding a pen, opening jars, or doing anything that requires me to bend my thumb brings tears to my eyes. On Monday, I was able to wash my hair by myself, and was filled with joy. (It’s hard to rely on others, but Claire washed my hair that weekend at her “salon” and kept referring to me as “ma’am.” She did a fantastic job!)

Before I wrap this up, I’ll answer the number one question I’ve been getting: No, I didn’t get to keep the coral. I am not going to make it into a necklace. Although a fantastic idea, the two pieces were way too tiny, and the doctor lost them in all the bloody gauze and implements.

And, yes, I’ll probably have a scar. But, I’m okay with that. I mean, if you’re going to go to all this work for a souvenir, it may as well last forever. 😉

EDITED TO ADD: Check out this update! MORE coral!

San Francisco: Redefining “boring” one public transit ride at a time

Well, are you ready for some San Francisco stories of adventure?

The short version? We had a great trip! Claire has always been a fantastic traveler, and this was no exception.

The longer version? Grab a drink; sit back and get comfy…and fasten your seat belts.  I’m afraid this may be a bumpy ride in parts, quite literally…

Speaking of transportation, we bought a “Seven Day Passport” that allowed us to ride the MUNI and public transit all day, every day, regardless of “type” (the cable car, street-car, bus, and train were included…except BART, but that’s okay, because we weren’t headed in BART’s direction anyway) all the days of our stay for a one-time relatively low fee. Claire was free to ride anyway, and after a couple roundtrips on anything, we’d paid for the pass.  We HIGHLY recommend this option if you are a car-less tourist in San Fran. Of course, when we got to Daddy’s fancy-schmancy hotel, we were informed that the room CAME WITH A CAR that could be “arranged for free” for our stay.

We opted to stick with our passes and explore on foot, not wanting to tackle the driving and parking challenges of San Francisco.

In other news, I’m completely spoiled and may never stay in a “regular hotel” again. Just kidding.

Our trip wouldn’t have been an adventure without at least a little drama, and we definitely had some drama!

On Tuesday the 31st, we decided to combine our trip to explore the Mission District with our Letterboxing obsession, and we found a couple treasures! Perfect! After dinner, it was time to head back to the hotel, and we got on the bus.

Because we’d already been in San Fran for a few days at that point, we felt like experts. We knew which bus we needed, and we found it with ease.  I thought it was a bit odd that the front half of the super-long “double” bus was almost empty, but we were happy to find seats and sat down.

That’s when the screaming started. A woman next to us started screaming obscenities, out loud, to no one in particular and everyone within earshot. I told Claire to just focus on me, and not pay attention to the woman, but it was hard. My husband and I debated getting off the bus and catching the next one, but then the woman got up from her seat and started weaving and stumbling around. Was she just confronting the demons in her head or getting off the bus? Surely if she wasn’t getting off the bus, she’ll be thrown off the bus for acting this way.

The next stop came and went, and she was still there screaming and stumbling, so we got up and went to the back half of the bus, not wanting to get off the bus just yet.

The screaming in the front of the bus continued, and not long after that, one of the people at the back of the bus started yelling at her and the driver.

Awesome.

This woman starts yelling about how the driver should throw “The Freak” off the bus or call the cops or both. She then started saying that if she was late to her half-way house again, she’d be thrown in jail. Again.

Seriously? You just can’t make this stuff up!

Then, The Freak at the front of the bus kicked it up a notch and got out these sticks and started hitting the seats. I am not sure what the sticks were, but they looked like drumsticks. She got dangerously close to another passenger, and when that happened, Half-Way House Lady in the back of the bus started yelling even louder and went up to confront The Freak.

As I’m typing this out, it all seems obvious that we should have gotten off the bus at our first inkling, but everything was happening in this weird slow-motion reality that is so clear when looking back and so confusing when it’s happening.

Now, the two of them are screaming at each other. There is kicking and hitting with sticks, and the bus driver is FINALLY calling the cops. He pulls over and gets out his phone. Right about at this time, Half-Way House Lady pulls a knife.

A KNIFE.

The INSTANT that knife blade flashed, I grabbed Claire and ran. With my husband close behind me, we bolted for the door. We jumped off the bus and fled on foot. I don’t remember how many blocks we ran before we slowed down. I remember glancing back at the bus and wondering if they were finally being thrown off, and if they were, we didn’t want to be anywhere near it.

It’s been a long time since I was quite so scared, and I’ve never experienced that level of alarm with Claire in tow. Yikes!

We knew we were headed in the direction of our hotel, but we didn’t know exactly how far away it was, so we kept running. I knew it was too far to go the full way on foot, but our choices were severely limited at that point.  I wanted as much distance between my daughter and a knife fight as I could possibly get.

We stopped to catch our breath, and Claire started asking all kinds of questions. What’s wrong with that woman? Why was she saying those things? Why was she hitting people, and why doesn’t she have all her teeth?

I used this as the perfect teachable moment about the dangers of illicit drugs. Drugs that doctors give you because you’re sick? Those are fine if you use them the way the doctor tells you to. Drugs like what this woman had used? Bad. I swear, this bus-ride was more effective than any made-for-television movie or after-school special.

I also told her that there was nothing to worry about. She was with Momma and Daddy, and we were headed back to the hotel. Those crazy ladies couldn’t hurt us now.

The area where we’d bolted and fled on foot wasn’t the best area, so we kept moving. I have no idea how much time passed, but the bus eventually caught up with us again. Everything looked relatively calm, so we got back on.

After plopping down in the seats, I looked at another passenger and quietly asked, “Are they gone?”

She smiled and said, “Oh my goodness! Only in San Francisco! Yes, they’re gone. I’ve never quite seen it THAT bad.” And then her eyes got really big. “Wait. You guys got off all the way back there!! You guys made incredible distance!”

We laughed about how we hadn’t wanted to be anywhere NEAR that. Yes, I laughed because I didn’t want to cry, and I hoped Claire didn’t notice that I was shaking.  It wasn’t until we got back to the hotel and I was alone in the bathroom that I left myself feel that fear.

WE’D FLED A KNIFE FIGHT ON FOOT.

On Wednesday, I was determined to make good memories to cover up the scary ones from the night before, so we rode the cable cars again. We’d had good luck with that on Sunday, and it was something I was comfortable doing by myself with Claire.  The wait in line was insanely long, but it was so much fun. In totally related news, I’ve been calling those things trolleys for years. They’re not trolleys. They are cable cars. There IS a difference. Who knew??

Anyway…back to the story. We went to the Wharf (Pier 39) to visit the sea lions, and we even had our portrait drawn on the way back!

Looking back, Wednesday was pretty boring. There were no knife fights, and we didn’t have to flee anywhere on foot.  It’s all relative, I suppose.  😉

Then, on Thursday, when Daddy got back to the hotel from his conference (around 3pm or so), our mission was clear:

We went out to the Presidio to find Yoda.

When we were putting together our plan of attack, we both laughed that the only “convenient” way out there was via bus.  We’d not had the best luck with the bus at that point, but what else could happen to top a knife fight?

So, we figured out which bus we needed, and we set out.  The bus arrived, we crossed our fingers, and away we went!  We’re going along, when all of a sudden, there was a terrible screeching noise.  That weird slow-motion reality is back, and the bus is jack-knifing in the middle, and people are being thrown forward and to the side.  People are swinging from the bars.  People are falling.  Everything is sliding.

In the blink of an eye, my right arm shoots out, and I try to catch Claire.  I try to keep her from slamming into the seat in front of us, but we both hit the metal bar and metal back of the seat in front of us with pretty good force.  Daddy was sitting in front of us, and he almost fell out of his seat, but he didn’t have a seat directly in front of him, and he was able to hold on.

Everything that slammed forward, reverses and stops, and we all sit for a moment in disheveled confusion.

Our bus has hit a car.

OUR BUS HAD HIT A CAR.

A car had pulled out in front of us, and the bus driver had slammed on the breaks.  He was able to stop quickly enough that the only damage he did to the car was take off the mirror and dented the side.  The driver of the car was very apologetic to everyone that got off the bus.

Yes, once again, we’re forced to get off a bus without reaching our final destination and go to the next stop, but this time, we weren’t fleeing for our lives.  This time, we were making sure we’re all in one piece.  My knee was bruised, and Claire was complaining about her chin, but I didn’t see a mark on her.  I’m pretty sure her chin made a bruise on my ARM instead of slamming into the metal seat bar. It all happened so suddenly, and without warning. I can’t believe I was able to catch her just before she REALLY slammed into the seat, which is really hard to do when you’re also flying forward!

So far, the bus isn’t ranked too highly on my list. 😉

Again, for Claire’s sake, we shook off the accident and went on in our adventures.  The above tweet was typed with shakey fingers after we were safely on the second bus, as I was pretending to be okay.  We were on a mission!

Successful at finding Yoda we were.

After our photoshoot with Yoda at the Presidio, we headed to the Wharf again. That evening, we rode a street-car back, and there wasn’t a knife fight, and we didn’t hit a car, so it was pretty boring…

…in comparison. 😉

Claire vs. Chair

So, in the last three days, Claire has fallen off three different chairs.  I’m really hoping history doesn’t repeat itself, and make today Day Number Four.  Knock on wood…but not with your head, please.

It all started on Thursday.  Thursday was slotted to be a relatively full day.  We had swimming lessons bright and early in the morning, and then Story Time at a local library after that.  We had enough time to come home, have lunch, and make deviled eggs to take to Bunco that night.  Then, I’d have plenty of time for Claire to take a nap while I got ready.  My hubby was going to come home early to watch Claire so that I could make my escape.

Swimming Lessons and Story Time go without a hitch.  Even lunch was a success.  It was almost time for Claire’s nap, but she wanted to help me make “doubled eggs.”  So, I set the water to boil, boiled the eggs, and I let her pull up a kitchen chair to the sink to help me peel the eggs when they were done.

I have a system for deviled eggs that works for me.  It’s an appetizer that I love to make, and I know the recipe by heart.  As I’m mixing up the ingredients for the innards, Claire is running cold water over the eggs.  (They aren’t really hot at this point, so she is in no danger of burning herself.)

I turn around to put the mayonnaise and mustard back in the fridge.  I kneel down to find the right spaces, and all of a sudden, the kitchen chair Claire is standing on comes flying across the room and smashes into the cupboards right behind my head.  In a split second, I whip around and see Claire land smack on the floor, flat on her face, out flat like a trapeze artist who has missed his mark.

My brain can’t even really process what has happened.  The crash of the chair scared me half to death and seeing her fall like that made my heart stop.  How did this happen?  She wasn’t goofing around at all!

Because I’m already on the floor, I roll her over onto her back with one arm and open the freezer with the other.  I immediately put one icepack on her cheek and get the other one out just in case.  That’s when I see her arm.

Her right arm has a bruise in the form of a line, right above her elbow, and it’s already starting to swell.  My voice is calm and I’m telling her to calm down, and it will be okay, and I’m trying to believe the words myself.  I put the other icepack on her arm and pick up the phone.

My husband is nearly impossible to reach at the office, but I try there on the off chance that he’s at his desk.  He is.  I try not to panic but tell him that I don’t need to call 911 (no blood spurting, and no visible broken bones), but I’m calling the nurseline to see what they say about tips for telling how a bone is broken without using an x-ray machine.  I just wanted to give him a heads up.

I call the nurseline, and after answering their matrix of questions, it’s determined that I should take Claire to the pediatrician or the ER to be checked out.  I call the pediatrician, and they can get us in right away.  It’s in the same hospital as the ER, so x-rays won’t be an issue if they feel those are necessary.

Meanwhile, Claire is in good spirits.  She has stopped crying.  She tells me her face hurts a lot, but her arm only hurts if I poke it.  “Pet it gently Momma, and it won’t hurt as much,” she keeps telling me.

A trip to the hospital and one Sleeping Beauty Sticker later it’s determined that her arm isn’t broken.  He also checked out her cheekbone and her mouth.  No fractures there either.

We barely make it back in time for me to finish making the deviled eggs and get to my Ladies’ Night Out festivities.  “I don’t think I’m going to help you this time, Momma…okay?” was what Claire had to say when I asked her if she wanted to help me finish the project.  I didn’t blame her!

I still don’t know exactly what happened.  The accident reconstruction of the event did not match the injuries or position of the body, so it’s still a mystery.  I’m just glad I was right there, and that we got ice on everything right away.  You can’t even see a bruise on her cheek, and her arm looks worse than it feels.

So, that was Day One, Chair One.  What about the other two?  Friday’s Main Event involved a dining room chair, the back of her head and the carpeted floor.  (That one scared her more than anything, but the thump of her head is never a sound I like to hear.)  Saturday’s Smack Down included a tumble off of a small chair in Momma’s office, only this time her fall was broken by the play kitchen set, which again, made more racket than damage I think.

Momma has laid down the law, and new rules have been established with regard to proper chair usage.  We’ll see if this helps, but I’m not so sure.  I mean, in a majority of the cases, she wasn’t doing anything wrong.  In the meantime, it’s a good thing we have more than one ice pack, because they’re barely having time to solidify before we need to use them again.

Happy 4th of July! (and an update…)

Well, we have good news about my dad! He’s doing so well on the medications that he may be able to come home early next week! This is quite a relief. He’s relatively young (he’s only 59) and stubborn…two criteria that seem to be helping in the recovery process. (Well, the “stubborn” portion of that mix can go both ways, as I’m sure most of the nurses on duty the day he went to the hospital can attest.) 😉

But, just as we were all sighing a big sigh of relief in this situation, things took a bad turn for my maternal grandmother. Sadly, she suffered a massive stroke yesterday morning and is not expected to recover. She has been unresponsive since the incident, so the end is near. 🙁

I know it’s cliché to say that she’s 90 and lived a full life…but it’s true. It doesn’t make the sadness any less powerful, but it does make me thankful that she’s been able to experience life to its fullest. My hope for her is that she’s at peace soon and not in any pain.

Of course, in the midst of all this, time marches on. Because my dad was in the clear, we continued full-steam ahead with our vacation plans. Even with these new developments, we’re still moving ahead with our trip to the mountains for a weekend get-away with my brother-in-law. (He arrived from out-of-state just in time for dinner on Thursday night.) We’ve been looking forward to this trip for a while, so hopefully this long holiday weekend will serve as a nice way to recharge after this incredibly stressful week and store up energy for what we could be facing next week. Time will tell if we need to cut our trip short, but my relatives have assured me that there isn’t anything that can be done at this point. Go! Try to enjoy the holiday! Easier said than done? Perhaps…but we’ll try.

Depending on what happens, we may be making a pit-stop at home on our way eastward. Or maybe we’ll have time to regroup before heading out again. It all depends on what transpires over the next few days. Nothing like living life on the edge!

In other news, I won’t have access to the blog while in the mountains, but Merlin has begged and begged to do some guest posts for me, so be sure to check those out. Something tells me that they won’t be nearly as insightful as Jasper’s, but like bloggers everywhere, every kitty has his own style. 😉

In showing Merlin how to look through the photos, I found some Festive Photos Fit for the Fourth, so here they are.

Claire is 7-months old in these photos, and it’s hard to believe that two years has passed! In these photos, I was posing her in her 4th of July dress. And, the last photo captures the personality that still shows through today.

Click photos to enlarge.
Clicking a second time will show more detail.

Pretty as a picture

 

Pretty as a picture

 

Pretty as a picture

 

Fourth of July Dress

There’s the rascally Claire we know and love!

So, we’re off! Have a happy holiday, and don’t eat too much birthday cake. 😉

An update of sorts

First of all, I’d like to thank all of you for your thoughts and support. I don’t usually speak directly to “an audience,” even though I know you’re all here…I usually just babble on and on, report my rhetorical observations, and leave it at that.

But, today is different, and I’d like to take a moment to thank all of you and provide a little more information.

I’m sorry I was cryptic in my last post. Without getting into too much gory detail, my dad is in the hospital. Listing everything that is “wrong” would take too long, so let’s just suffice it to say he’s dealing with major issues, including but not limited to, massive blood clots. All of the things affecting him were at one time unrelated and are now intertwined. He is in a Catch-22 of sorts resulting from needing to fix things but not being able to because of the very things that need to be fixed.

This is frustrating and terrifying.

Every time the phone rings, I’m on edge. Good news? Bad news? Any news? When the phone is not ringing I can pretend that everything is still okay, or is at least the way we left it. But the uncertainty is suffocating.

I was able to speak to my dad personally last night, and he was in very good spirits. Whether or not that was drug-induced, I really don’t care. I didn’t even think I’d be able to speak with him directly so soon after his admittance, so I’ll take what I can get. Given the circumstances, it was one of the best conversations we’ve ever had. It makes my eyes sting with tears to think that it may be the last conversation I could have with him.

But you know what? That’s possible every time we talk to anyone.

Every.
Time.

Life is an intricate, simple, complex, mixture of strength and delicacy all balanced on uncertainty. One moment things are the way they are and the next they’re not. Yes, the Zen Master in my head tells me that even when things are not the way they were, they still are the way they are. So, I can at least take comfort in the consistency of that, I suppose.

So, things with my dad are in a constant state of flux right now. It’s an ebb and flow of sorts. Things get a little better, and then they get a little worse. Sometimes they get a little worse because other things are getting a little better. It’s hard to hold on as tightly as possible to the situation while trying to let go of the control.

After my conversation with him last night, I was actually able to sleep. I felt things were looking better, relatively speaking. My brain actually let my body get the rest it had been yearning for the last two days. But, after the latest update, I’m not so sure. Things are, by no means, settled. Only time will tell, and right now it’s being tightlipped.

It’s hard to go on with “life as normal” here when I know things are the farthest from normal as they’ve ever been there. I took Claire to a playdate yesterday, as scheduled, because there’s no sense in sitting at home stewing when I could stew somewhere else just the same. I was able to get updates from people via cell phone, and Claire could play with her friends, totally oblivious to all this drama, and the distraction was good for me, too.

When she’s happy, I’m more positive. And, when I’m more positive, it’s easier to send those positive vibes where they are needed most.

Another complication that is threatening to rip me apart inside is the fact that for months we’ve been planning a mountain get-away for the Fourth of July Holiday. My brother-in-law is coming in from out-of-state, and we’re all driving up there together for a long weekend.

The condo is rented. The plans are made. All of this is overshadowed by these latest events. If something were to take a turn for the worse, we’re a phone call away, which is where we would be anyway. An extra hour of driving won’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, and actually, we’d already be packed for a trip back.

I’m really hoping it doesn’t come to that.

How do I keep planning for this trip knowing that things are balanced so precariously for my dad? Because he wants me to. Because not putting plans on hold for something I’m hoping with all my heart works out for the best seems like the best plan. Could I live with myself if things took a sudden turn and I wasn’t there in time? Yes. I can honestly say I’ve made peace with that, and I trust those around me to understand that. Tone is practically impossible to read via written word, let alone a blog post, so trust me when I say these things with nothing but loving and kindness in my heart.

Plus, those horrible, rickety bridges way off in the distance? Yeah, we’ll figure out how to cross them when we get there. Who knows…maybe we’ll be able to avoid taking that route altogether.

I am really trying to accept that things will work out the way they are supposed to.

So, thank you. Thank you for your kind words of support and your positive thoughts. It means more to me than you can even imagine.

There’s really no good way to say it.

There’s really no good way to say, “Oh, and by the way…my dad is in the hospital, and we’re not sure what his prognosis will be.”

There’s really no good way to say, “The doctors aren’t talking about long-term timelines.  They are focused on getting him through the next couple of days.”

There’s really no good way to say, “Well, he’s in good hands…and things will work out the way they’re supposed to.”

There’s really no good way to say, “I can’t be there in person right now.”

There’s really no good way to say, “Just because I’m not crying on the outside doesn’t mean I’m not crying on the inside.”

There’s really no good way to say, “Momma just has a few tears in her eyes, but it will be okay.”

Because there’s no good way to say it, I just say it.  I dry my face and hope for the best.

The ups and downs (literally) of a fun-filled Friday

Technically, I’m writing this after midnight, so it’s Saturday now. It’s amazing how quickly the day flies. Thankfully, I was able to end this Friday while watching movies with the hubby, all of the excitement of the day behind me.

Needless to say, this Friday started out as a lovely day and then took some interesting turns before ending on a pleasant note.

In the morning, Claire and I met some mom’s group people at the park here by the lake. Claire has discovered a newfound skill in climbing up all the ladders and chain-linky things on the playground equipment. She’s quite good at it…and amazingly so…and much to my dismay. 😉

She’s got mad skillz, yo!

But I am right there, making sure she doesn’t fall. Rather than tell her not to do it, I try to teach her how to do it the safest way. Far be it from me to hold her back. Can one stop the earth from turning? Can one hold back the tides? I didn’t think so.

Plus, I guess if I’m going to threaten to sell her to the circus, it’s best to get her skills in order. 😉

We played for a couple of hours and then she told me she needed to pee (yea!!), so we go to the porta-potties, which are disgusting (boo!). “It is GROSS!” Claire says, and it is. Even I wouldn’t pee in there. The poor thing refuses to go, and I don’t blame her. I tried to get her to pee behind a tree (shhh, don’t tell…I was desperate!), and she refused. So, we decide to call it a day and head back home…I was just hoping she could hold it for the walk back.

We sit down at a picnic table to get our things in order, and somehow, she slips off the bench and smacks the back of her head on the cement. Honestly, I didn’t even see it happen. I heard it. 🙁 I had my head turned for one second and the next thing I know, she’s lying under the picnic table on her back.

Luckily, it was popsicle day for the mom’s club, and the other mom still there from our group had an icepack in her cooler. So, I sit there with the icepack on the big ol’ goose-egg on Claire’s head.

Note to self: Goose-egg = swelling on the outside of the brain = GOOD

All the while, Claire is apologizing for falling off the picnic table. She wasn’t horsing around, and she wasn’t goofing off. There was no need to apologize. Poor little thing.

And, during all this, she still hasn’t wet her pants!

After sitting a while with the icepack, we decide to go home. Somehow, she made it home and onto the potty in time! As I’m getting lunch ready, she goes to her room and falls asleep! Uh oh! I decided not to wake her up, but kept checking on her. Finally, I woke her up to eat. She ate, grudgingly.

Then, I go to my office to check my mail, and she comes in and says she wants to be picked up. She says her head hurts and she doesn’t feel good. I pick her up and she throws up all over. Lovely. So, I run her to the bathtub and call the pediatrician. Hmmm, let’s see. I’m not a professional, but a goose-egg on her head, not acting like herself, and then barfing all over? Not the best sign. I’m not sure how to proceed, so I called the experts.

They say that letting her sleep is okay as long as I check to make sure she doesn’t aspirate on barf.

They also give me the following tips for future reference:
The “Don’t let them go to sleep” Rule = OUT
The “Letting them sleep but watching them like a hawk” Rule = IN
Throwing up ONCE after hitting your head = OKAY
Throwing up more than once after hitting your head = BAD

Good to know…so I don’t feel so bad for letting her fall asleep while I was making lunch.

My hubby has been in a class for work all week, so I page him with this latest development. This way, he won’t be surprised if he gets another page telling him at which ER to meet us.

Luckily, after the Tylenol and a nap, she seemed to be just fine. In fact, by the time Daddy got home, Claire was showing me how high she can jump (awesome! …not) and singing Happy Birthday to all of her animals.

And, in case there is any confusion, yes, she climbs all over all kinds of things without so much as a wobble and then smacks her head falling off a picnic table bench.

Go figure.

What did they sound like before there were freight trains?

It was around 10pm, on June 5th, and Claire had been in bed for an hour or so. My hubby and I were exhausted from spending another day playing with my nephews, and we had settled into the comfiness of our friends’ entertainment room.

The local weather had taken over the airwaves, and a fierce rain storm was howling outside, the sky alive with dramatic displays of lightening.

Things were getting rather heated outside, and the weather department was hopping. There had been tornadoes spotted, and every show was being interrupted with continuous updates.

When we moved in 1999, I was happy to leave the tornadoes behind. In our Mountain Time Zone home, tornadoes are rare. Yes, they have been known to appear in this state, but if they do, it’s usually out on the plains and not near the foothills that we call home.

This is not the case in my childhood home.

I’ve lived through a tornado, and it pretty much scarred me for life. That sounds so dramatic, and maybe I’ll forget that night….eventually…but I doubt it. It was the year before I went into Kindergarten (1978 for those of you playing along at home), and it’s all as clear as though it happened yesterday.

Anytime I see Tornado Watches and Tornado Warnings flash on the screen, I feel a tightening in my chest. I find it hard to breathe.

I am one of the few people I know who can describe to you, in great detail the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning. They are not the same. One means that conditions are right for one to appear, and the other means one has been spotted. They are both serious, but the warnings make me tense.

I grew up on a farm, miles and miles away from any type of warning system. Our chimney would whistle, and if that happened, it was time to go the basement. Now.

So, the weather guy is blabbering on and on about these storms, and I’m creating an escape plan in my head. Claire is in the pack-n-play. Her sandals are clasped on the handles of my bag.

Sandals? Why sandals? After the tornado in 1978, there was so much broken glass throughout our house that my parents sat me and my two year old sister on kitchen chairs with the instructions of not to move. My sister remembers that vividly. You can imagine the severity if someone who was just two years old at the time still remembers it.

Anyway, back to the plan. I could put my purse in that bag, grab her and the bags and get to the safe room in a matter of seconds. I could put her sandals on in there. We’re already on the basement level, so that’s one less step. How much time will we have?

I’m probably being silly.
We probably won’t need an escape plan.
Maybe they’ll miss us.

10:29pm Central Time
The tornado siren starts blaring.

Tornado!

My worst fears are coming true. My hubby and I bolt for the guest room, and I grab Claire and my bags and head to the room, as planned. Our friends join us with their two sleepy girls and their dog.

In my head, it was 30 years ago, and I was the scared 4-yr old huddled in the basement fruit cellar.

The shaking of foot-thick concrete walls.
The clanking of my mom’s canning jars.
So worried about our dog Susie, an outside dog.
Would she be okay? Where would she go?

There had been no warning, the weather radio crackling “partly cloudy skies.”
My dad had heard the chimney whistling and determined that something wasn’t right, and we’d fled to the basement.

His instincts were correct and saved our lives.

The electricity goes out and we’re left in the dank fruit cellar in the dark. I can smell the dirt on the potatoes. This room has always kinda scared me, and now it’s the only safe place in the house.

Glass breaking.

Then I hear that sound.
That deafening, horrible, powerful sound.
Raw fury.

From that day forward, I’ve always wondered what tornadoes sounded like before there were freight trains.

Years later, I sobbed through the movie Twister, my friends not sure I should see it in the theater. “I need to see it,” I told them. “I want to get rid of this fear.” It helped a little to cry. A little…but my fear is still here.

They got the sound in that movie dead on.

I will never forget it.

Susie was fine. Some of our neighbors weren’t. Their home was destroyed. Two of them lost their lives that day…a dad and his daughter. She was my age. My dad had been part of the National Guard, so he was one of the first people on the scene and helped with the bodies. I can’t even imagine. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about how hard that must have been for him. A little girl my age. A father like him. Not spared. The mother survived but spent her remaining years in a wheelchair.

Lives ripped apart in an instant.

Flash forward to now…

I’m the mother. I’m clutching my little girl as if her life depends on it, as if my life depends on it.

This room is too big. Something smaller would be safer. Right? Would it matter?

We haven’t lost power, so that’s good. Right? If the walls start shaking, where will I go? Where will I huddle with Claire? What’s on these huge shelves that could come crashing down on us if they give way. Nothing dangerous or heavy. I’m going under there. If the walls start shaking, I’m going under there. I don’t care if there are spiders.

We’re listening to the weather radio. They are taking calls from outside callers. Things are sounding pretty hairy out there. “And, now we go to Ed. Ed? You’re on the air. [dead silence] Well, folks, it seems as though we’ve lost Ed. Next caller…”

“Oh no!” I try to joke. “They’ve lost Ed! It must be serious!” I try to say with a laugh. Maybe levity will belie the fact that I’m crying inside. And that I can’t stop shaking.

Please let this be over soon. Let it hit so I can react, or let it pass so that I can breathe again.

Then…
The sirens stop.
The weather announcer gives the all-clear.

There was no shaking of walls or clanking of jars.
This time.
Here.

That storm system that chased us to the safe room traveled almost 60-miles north and east toward the farm where I grew up, and where we’d been the last two days. My sister and her husband heard the freight train around 1am and were able to get their four boys to the basement before the brunt of the storm hit.

A huge old tree having landed on the lilac bush, two uprooted apple trees, and a bent basketball hoop later, the storm had passed. The house and garage were still standing and didn’t sustain damage. The dog was covered in mud but happy to see everyone. The family members were safe.

You really can’t ask for more than that when you live in a Tornado Alley.

In the phone call that next morning with my sister, I asked her if we should reconfigure our trip and try to come up to help them clean up. She declined, saying she understood how hectic our trip already was. Plus, with four boys, they had a lot of helpers. So, we traveled on as planned, and they started the process of cleaning up the debris.

My little childhood state and other areas of the Midwest are taking a beating right now. If people aren’t being blown away by tornadoes, they’re being flooded out of their homes.

And, my heart goes out to all of them.

Bent outta shape

So, this morning, my hubby was going to go to an appointment and run to a few stores. Claire was being a little difficult (read: two years old), so we decided that Claire and I were going to stay here. Before he left, I’d put a pretty pink ribbon in Claire’s hair, and it looked so cute. I asked my hubby to go get my camera to snap a few shots before he left. (Because I was sitting with her on my lap, and Little Miss Particular didn’t want me to get up.)

He gets the camera out of my office and comes in the kitchen to take our picture. He decided to get us from a different angle, somehow loses his grip and the camera went crashing to the floor.

Did he have the wrist band on? No.
Did the camera hit the floor? Yes.

I gasped out loud and shouted, “Oh nooooooooooooooo!”

He was also upset but then got really defensive when he saw my reaction. “I didn’t do it on purpose! What did you want me to do!?” he shouted. “Use the wrist band!” I shouted back. “I’m in a hurry, and you ask me to do this for you!” he shouted. “You didn’t have to! You have time! What does that have to do with the wrist band!?” I shouted back.

It doesn’t matter. What’s done is done.
He didn’t do it on purpose.

The lens is all jammed and a little crooked. It won’t close. It keeps making a pitiful little beeping noise. He takes the battery out so that the camera will stop freaking out.

I can’t hold back the tears.

I’m not normally materialistic, but he just dropped my new camera on the floor, and now it’s broken.

“You buying the camera for me was such a surprise, and it’s so special to me. I coddle that thing, and you waltz in here and drop it on the floor,” I say. That was mean. And it was un-called-for.

More tears.

He can’t handle tears and gets all upset. He thinks I’m “blaming him” and that I think he “did it on purpose.” Well, he IS the one who dropped it! Yes, the blame lies with him, but no he didn’t do it on purpose.

How many times do I have to tell him that blame and intention are two separate things!?

I’m far from perfect. I’ve broken things in the past. Do you think I meant to back out of the garage that one day, six years ago, and accidentally rip the bumper off my car when I accidentally backed over the rock that was in front yard? (Oh, that’s such an old story, but it’s a good one. Maybe I’ll write about it someday…maybe. And, if you must know, replacing the bumper was only slightly more expensive than a new camera. So, cost is not the issue here.)

Who was to blame that time? Me. (Technically, Your Honor, it was my fault as I was the one driving at the time. However, I’d like the record to show that I had repeatedly requested said rock be removed from its precariously dangerous position. It has since been removed and put in the backyard where it belongs. Also, for the record, my hubby had been driving my car last and he parks it way too close to the wall. But, yes. I’m guilty as charged. I have nothing further, Your Honor.)

Who did it on purpose? Not me.

Did that change my husband’s reaction? Uh, no. He was pretty upset.

So, the past is the past. What’s done is done. Could we change what happened? Nope…one of us broke the time machine, too. (And the jury is still out on that one.) 😉

All we can do is go forward…but after we’re calm.

He was upset for breaking my camera. He was even more upset because I was crying. And, I was upset, so I couldn’t stop the tears.

Claire got very upset and tried her best to make me stop crying. She kept calling me “honey” and rubbing my arm and kissing my face. She kept trying to wipe the tears away, and they wouldn’t stop.

He had to go to his appointment, so he left. All of a sudden, Claire’s mood totally changed since she was focusing on me. I got myself calmed down. It’s just a camera. And, what if it’s not really broken? There’s no need to panic. (Too late for that, I guess.) A proper evaluation needs to be done and then we can panic. Kidding! It’s just a camera. Right? No (more) panicking allowed.

Claire went down for her nap and I decided to look at the camera to see if the lens was cracked and if I could get it to close.

The camera didn’t appear to be cracked or have any scratches on it. I noticed how the little lens was sitting a little cockeyed, so I gently pressed on it and it made an audible click. And, I think I heard it sigh with relief. I put the battery back in, and turned it on. It made its little automated adjusty noise and focused properly. I took a picture and then turned it off. It closed. I opened it and took another picture. I turned it off and it closed. I repeated this a few more times, and it didn’t freak out once.

It appears to be working just fine now. It may need a little Post-Traumatic-Stress therapy, and it has developed an odd fear of heights, but it appears to be okay for the most part.

We were lucky.
Crisis averted.

So, did any of the photos come out, or was this a complete waste of time and emotion? 🙂 Well, one of the pictures actually came out okay. Here is the picture that was snapped right before the camera took a tumble.

Click to enlarge.

Pretty Bow

In the above photo, Claire is saying “But, I don’t wanna say cheese,” which pretty much sums up her attitude before she had to take on the role of calming Momma down. And, it worked to snap her out of her mood, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a valid tool to be used again in the future. 😉

So far, all three of us, and the camera, have been bent out of shape today…but we’re feeling much better now. Claire is napping. My hubby is much calmer. My tears have all but dried up. Neither of us harber hard feelings for the other.

Hopefully the rest of our weekend goes a little more smoothly.

Knock on wood… (but not with the camera…it’s kinda delicate)
😉

Letter to our pediatrician

Dear Dr. B,

Thank you so much for taking time to see Claire and me yesterday. I know your schedule is really busy, and it’s good to know that we can get in to see you without a big hassle.

Thank you for having such great nurses on your staff. They have been really helpful regarding the little issues here and there, but I’m glad I opted to make an appointment with you yesterday and talk to you personally. Something told me to take this seriously, and I’m glad I did.

I think catching what was happening with Claire this early in the game is a good thing, and you make me feel good for trusting my instincts and coming in when I did. It’s hard to realize that something may be “wrong” with someone who appears to be okay on the outside. And, it’s shocking to me that this is a “normal” problem and that so many people suffer from this ailment, but it makes me feel so not-alone, too. It can be so embarrassing when taken out of context, so please understand why I’m not using a lot of detail or specific search-terms in this open letter. If friends ask me, I’d be happy to share my experiences, just so others may not feel so alone or helpless.

It’s really scary to hear of where something like this could go, if not caught now, so thank you for being so kind when the tears came to my eyes in the exam room. Thank you for understanding how stressful being a parent can be sometimes.

I’ll have you know that I stopped at the pharmacy and got the items you suggested. I will tell you, however, that the problem was much worse than we anticipated and the three hour session I had with Claire yesterday left us both exhausted.

You would have been so proud of her! She was a real trooper. We both handled the situation far better than I ever could have imagined. It’s not something I ever want to repeat, but I will say this: I now think I’m prepared for anything. (No, that is not a challenge to the cosmos!) Not once did she lash out at me in anger; it was as if she really understood that I was trying to help her and not torture her. That is a big thing to understand for someone who is just two years old.

Granted, if she ever needs therapy, I wouldn’t be surprised if it all stems from this. 😉

The session appears to have been successful, and words cannot describe how happy I am to have my happy girl back. She was very bubbly when Daddy got home last night, and she maintained her happy mood throughout the whole evening! And, she even drank a full dosage (all 8 oz.) of your magical drink! One day down; four months to go…

I realize that we may have a long road ahead of us, and that my unfailing diligence is required from here on out. But, this is my job. This is what I signed up to do. It can only get better from here on out. I’m ready.

In deepest appreciation,

Claire’s Momma