Thursday, October 31, 2013

Year Three, Week 30 - Winding Down the Crazy....

Aside from the general busy-ness of life in our house, the Crazy seems to be easing up.

The new computer system with full Electronic Medical Records at work is murder to learn.  Every time someone complains about a new symptom (which is an hourly event) I click on some new button that leads me on some insane portion of the medical Yellow Brick Road.  Six months from now this will turn out okay.  Now, not so much, but we're managing.

My Dad will be heading home tomorrow, sometime after I finish my root canal.  (Easy to forget that THAT got rolled into last weeks total nuthouse adventure, right?)  He asked me yesterday how many trips I intended to make to get rid of him.  LOL.

So hopefully this weekend will only involve ONE 400-mile round trip.  And if I'm lucky I won't feel the need to bring work home.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Final (I Hope) Airport Run.....

Yesterday evening the family gathered for music, games, and general unexpected time together..  Babygirl, her California cousin and a local cousin went to the Boo at the Zoo and had a very good time.  My sister-in-law and I went along and enjoyed the walk - our zoo walk is on the side of a mountain and more than a mile around, and it's some distance from the parking in.  It turns out that it was exactly what I needed to get the travel kinks and fatigue out of my system! 

Despite my exhaustion, I had more than a little difficulty sleeping.  I got up after about four hours of sleep and helped Auntie finish packing.  I sacrificed my pink-and-purple striped Paris-trip suitcase for the cause.  My Auntie is a compulsive shopper, and her granddaugher is to tiny to be the mule for all that stuff!  I'll pick up the suitcase (God willing) when we make our trip out west next year. 

The ride to the airport was uneventful, but given the general Karma of the last few days I decided to wait it out until they were safely on the plane.  Babygirl had come along for the ride, and she and her cousin had a lovely time exploring the airport in the few minutes we had available. 

After the plane took off we went back to the parking lot to discover a rather large boot-shaped truck with Maine plates.  I didn't know LL Bean had a truck!  The only other advertising vehicle that I have seen that is more conspicuous is the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile. 

We did some grocery shopping on the way home.  The laundry is sorted, and Hubby has fixed whatever difficulty arose with the dryer while my brother was using the dryer outlet to charge up his electric car.  (Yeah, I know.  There really is NO limit to what weird crap can go wrong here or why.)  Babygirl is watching Dr. Who reruns.  She's cleaned the kitchen and is putting a second load of dishes away.  Dinner's been started.  I did about an hour of work work on the computer that will make my Monday run a bit smoother, and I'm sitting here determined to enjoy the next 4 hours, which will comprise the entirety of my free time out of this three-day nightmare.

It will be enough. It has to be - there are really no other choices.  The day I took of this week to spend time with my dad has been sacrificed to get last Friday off to get Auntie to the airport. 


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Trapped in the Donut Hole....

Old people move slowly.  I know I've said it before, but it bears repeating.  This morning, Auntie finally awoke at 9, and was ready to roll out of the house by 10.  I was ready at 7:30.  Ah, well.  Breakfast took about another hour and a half, and I took my cousin to see the Erie Canal (might as well show her something she'll likely never see again, but that damned mule song is back in my head).  I stopped at a gas station to fill up on gas and air and we headed south to the thruway. 

Less than a mile away from the highway someone stopped in front of me.  Suddenly.  I hit the brakes, the car shimmied, and I knew immediately that we were in a world of trouble.  We missed hitting the pickup, but the car was suddenly very, very noisy when I hit the gas. 


There was a truck stop dead ahead, so we limped in.  The donut was dead.  And I had just pumped it up 15 miles earlier.

The truck stop had a garage.  They only handled big-rig tires.  I reassured the woman at the counter that I'm not usually a baby about things but gave her the short version of the last 24 hours with tears shimmering  in my eyes.  No spillover, honest.  She went for the boss, explained it all to him, and he tore up the office looking for the phone number of the tire guy down the road. 

Turns out the tire guy does used tires, and he thinks he has one in my size.  So they pump up the poor little donut, I put on the emergency flashers, and head off down the road with the banjos playing the theme from "Deliverance"  in my head. 

The sight of the little garage would have done little to reassure me if I were a true city dweller, but I have small-town roots and memories that reassured me that this place was run by one of the good guys.  I unloaded Auntie, unloaded the trunk to get to the slashed tire, and drove behind the building into a shed stacked to the rafters with secondhand tires.  At that point he could easily have made all three of us disappear without a trace LOL. 

Fifteen minutes later Beauty had a brand-new used tire and our new best friend had $40.  We'd spent more time at the truck stop looking for the phone number and getting the tire inflated.

On the way home I got a call from my brother asking what the plan was for dinner.  I had my cousin put him on speaker and treated him to the following:  "I've been on the road for 36 hours.  I slept on a couch and I'm still wearing the same underwear.  I'm pretty sure I used a second-hand toothbrush to brush my teeth this morning and I'm STILL NOT HOME so I'm sincerely hoping this is your way of telling me YOU have a plan!"  Yeah.  Like the little angel asking Santa where he wanted her to put the Christmas tree. 

We arrived home about 4.  I hit the shower, heated leftovers, and made it to the Boo at the Zoo.  And my cousin got to go!

So altogether I drove over 350 miles to accomplish basically nothing beyond testing the limits of my endurance. 

And tomorrow we get to do it all again, only closer.


Year Three, Week 29 - The Big U-Turn......

There are days when you wake up in the morning knowing in advance that you are stupid, and that your stupidity is going to cost you.  Yesterday.....

When we arranged for Dad to come and visit we set it up for two weeks.  When Auntie joined the fun, my head was set in Two-Week Mode.  After all, if Dad is here for two, isn't she? That makes picking her up and dropping her off at THEIR airport rather than MINE so sensible. My cousin then told me that it was only ONE week for her, so I readjusted my thinking and made mental plans.  I picked both of them up in Buffalo last Saturday, so I'd have to take an extra trip to Buffalo THIS Saturday. Right, inconvenient but not a big deal.  It wasn't until Thursday that the itinerary dates sank in:  I was going to have to go to Buffalo on FRIDAY. Changing plans at this point?  Well, we did try.

Everyone else who might have gone had a legitimate reason as to why that was impossible.  The fact that it was also impossible for ME became irrelevant - this is entirely my responsibiliy.  So I went to work for an hour, set my office in an uproar and walked out. It wasn't pretty.  And it was absolutely my fault.

I loaded Auntie and her delightful granddaughter in the car after her tearful farewell from my Dad.  I think both of them rightly suspect that this will be the last time they see each other.


It is just short of 200 miles from my front door to the Buffalo airport, and the trip was uneventful, although toward the end I suspected I needed to add air to a tire - there was a slight shimmy around that last cloverleaf.

When I parked the car I checked the tires.  Air?  I think not.  The inch-long gash in the side of the right front tire left me wondering how there was any air left in there to start with.  Ah, well, no point in upsetting Auntie - I'll deal with it once they're settled inside.  We waited while my little cousin took a photo of  a 'foreign' (Ontario) license plate LOL.

Check in was a breeze, and although they had standby tickets the clerk assured me that the flight had plenty of room.  I watched them clear security (after another tearful goodbye) and headed for the information desk, where they called the airport parking assistance folks.  I arrived back at my car just as the Man In The White Truck arrived. 

Let me say this:  Buffalo airport ROCKS.  It's not so big that you can't find everything.  The shuttles are prompt, the staff friendly and helpful, and wheelchairs are plentiful and complete with a personal assistant.  The parking lot has free car location, tire and lock service  and a few other handy-dandy features, including call buttons at shuttle stops.  But 'tire service' means 'we will inflate your flat' not 'we will change your tire'.

Not such a big deal.  Needless to say, adding air to a tire with a huge hole in it was ineffective, so I pulled out the donut, jack, and.....Fuggital.  Where the heck is the jack handle/lug wrench device?  Seriously???

This is where kind, creative White Truck guys come in handy.  He observes, "You are handling this rather well!"  I laughed.  "I've had enough Real Problems to be able to tell one of those from an inconvenience."  He's not allowed to change my tire.  But he's not going to leave a middle-aged woman with a handicapped tag in her window to deal with this alone either (the tag is for my old folks.  I shamelessly left it hanging there.  Don't judge me).  He found a huge screwdriver in the truck and I began cranking the jack around with it while chatting with God about the fact that it was starting to rain: "Hey, God - you know I'll still love you whether it sprinkles or pours.  But I'd be grateful if You'd keep this to a sprinkle. Please?"  White Truck Guy went to his own car and brought back a 4-way lug wrench.  His supervisor tagged along, sending him on his way because he is NOT supposed to actually change my tire.  The supervisor, however, then announced, "But I'm off the clock!"  and proceeded to change my tire.  Many, many blessings upon him.  And thanks, God - the sprinkles were okay.

So now I have to decide:  Drive 200 miles home on the donut, or find a place at 3 PM on a Friday in a strange city to get a new tire?  It's a couple of miles to the Thruway entrance.  I decide to stop at any gas station that looks like it has a garage between here and there.  If there aren't any, I'll take it as a sign that I'm good to go on the donut.  Five miles later?  Apparently I'm good to go, so I hop on the highway, set the cruise 10 mph slower than I usually go and point Beauty's nose toward home, hauling the steering wheel to the left against the pull of the little tire on the right.  I'll be home for dinner, and Babygirl and I can go to the Boo at the Zoo! 

OMG Babygirl!  When I left this morning she was lying in bed looking perfectly terrible and complaining of a sore throat.  She had no fever so I left her with instructions to take her temp frequently and push fluids, shoving all thoughts of her out of my mind so I'd be able to do what I needed to do.  Well, no news is good news, and neither she nor Hubby had called, so....

Sigh.  I can only juggle so many balls, you know?  And they have been dropping all around me all day.

Halfway home (halfway!!!!)  I get a call from my cousin in California.  The plane that is supposed to be taking Auntie and her granddaughter to JFK has some mechanical issue.  They could go to NYC but they won't make their connecting flight, and because they are standby they don't qualify for a hotel room courtesy of the airline.  Can I go back and rescue them?

Seriously?  Let's go over this again:  Cancel work, long drive, flat tire, sick kid, and......dead airplane????  Okay, gotcha.

Off the thruway.  Call to Hubby to update him on what is happening.  He had left in the morning before I did and had no idea that Babygirl had even stayed home, so he went to check on her.  Back on the thruway (I'm thinking my EasyPass bill is going to be interesting this month).  I arrived at the airport nearly 10 hours after we originally set out this morning, and considered my options.  I don't think I have four more hours of driving left in me.  I am exhausted, they are I call a friend. 

You know you have good friends when they will put you up for the night with no notice.  You know you have GREAT friends when they don't blink when you include Auntie and cousin to the request, and give all three of you a warm welcome and a bed.  Bless you, Tony and Judy!

Somewhere in the middle of the Great 200-Mile U-Turn Run a sob ran up my throat without warning.  I have to say that I faced most of the day without whining or complaining, but apparently my heart got overwhelmed while my mind was busy dealing with the sucky reality of my day.  So I kept driving, listened to some uplifting music on the radio, let the tears run, and dealt with it. 

This past two years have taught me a lot.  I know how to identify a Real Problem and understand that for the most part we are blest to only have a couple of those.  I've learned how to deal with annoyances and inconveniences even when they stand higher than the tall stack at IHOP.  I've learned that when the balls drop, they ALL drop - and there's nothing I can do about it until they all stop bouncing - and then I have to start the juggle over.  Sometimes I even discover that some of those balls never mattered in the first place.

I woke up to a text from my cousin telling me that the flight has been rebooked to a more local airport on Sunday.  I had coffee with good friends, warmly embraced by their love and support. I'm taking my family out to breakfast, driving them home, and taking Babygirl and her Cousin to the Boo tonight.  It's all very, very good - as long as the donut makes it all the way there.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Year Three, Week 28 - Like a Root Canal.....

When I was a child, dental care was not on the family priority list.  I can remember only one dental visit in my entire childhood.  Tooth brushing was not really reinforced.  I recall one dental visit at our school, to educate us on dental hygiene.  They gave us some kind of chewable stuff that stuck to plaque.  My teeth were pink for a couple of days. 

Needless to say this lead to more than a few cavities.  In my early twenties I had excellent dental coverage so I went in and had it all fixed, which involved the loss of six adult teeth.  No big deal, just normal life, right?  After all, my Mom got dentures in her twenties.

Fast forward ten years: A failed root canal while I was pregnant with Citygirl led to another lost tooth.  Add a permanent bridge to cap three bad teeth and close up a two-tooth gap.

A couple of years ago the enamel on the bridge began to deteriorate.  It was down to the metal in a couple of places.  Add a good sinus infection and BAM!  Permanent toothache.  My dentist removed the damaged bridge this morning, looked at the teeth underneath and sent me off for a root canal. 

Seriously.  Can anybody else say they had a quarter of their mouth numbed totally up at 8 AM and then AGAIN at 6 PM on the SAME DANGED DAY???  (For that matter, can anyone say they got into an endodontist for a root canal less than 8 hours after their dentist recommended one?) 

For those of you who have never had the pleasure, root canals involve opening the entire top of the tooth (not a problem since I'd already had the tooth crowned) and inserting what might as well be metal toothpicks directly up through the NERVE of the tooth until it's dead.  No matter how much Novocain they give you, trust me - it isn't really enough.

Phase one is over - I go back for the second, far less painful part next week.  And then back to the dentist to have the new bridge built and installed.

This is all just a metaphor for my life.  We rush from crisis to crisis.  Watching my beloved elderly deteriorate little by little is much worse than a root canal because there is no way to numb the pain, not even a little.  We joke and laugh about how everybody's gears are slipping, but the nerve just keeps throbbing. 


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Learning to Move Slowly......

Having three people over the age of 75 in the house is an exercise in moving slowly.  You can't pass them - they're too easy to knock over, and God forbid we end up breaking somebody.  With a toddler you can just scoop 'em up and cart them wherever if they are moving to slowly or in the wrong direction.  Not so much the elderly.

It's been fun so far having everybody here, not counting the bottleneck that occurs in our kitchen at mealtimes.  Auntie is sharing stories and pictures from her end of the country and we're going to have a look through all the Paris picture in a few minutes.

Babygirl and her new cousin have walked and ridden bikes all over the West Side today, and we snuck into an awesome open house in a place we can't afford but enjoyed snooping through.  It's tragic that they can't get along better LOL.

There's nothing wrong with slowing down.  It's not my usual habit, not at all.  But letting some things go to appreciate the things that matter is never, ever a bad idea.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Driving Alone in the Moonlight......

Yesterday was minor crazy.  A run to Curlygirl's to give her our cot (DoodleBug has to have somewhere to sleep - we borrowed his bed for my dad).  We were supposed to drop off the cot when we TOOK the bed but that would have been too easy.  I forgot to drop off her last load of clean clothes when I dropped off the cot, though, so I still have a run to make.

Since I disrupted my morning routine by running to Curlygirl's (and the bank to deposit checks that I forgot to put in earlier in the week....I'm seeing a theme here), I forgot to take my morning medications.  Oh, and I forgot to give mom hers. 

Work was not too busy and I made it out the door by 4:30, which is actually the time I am supposed to leave (I'm lucky if I make it home by 6 most nights lately).  As I was running out, I got a call from my stepmom to confirm that I was still coming.  I mentioned the time that Auntie was to be picked up at the airport and discovered that apparently no one had told her or my dad that she was coming!  I ran home, took my meds and packed some for this morning (oh, yeah - I forgot that too).  I was on the road to Dad's by 5 - a miracle by any standard. 

I set the cruise control and drove into the setting sun.  Alone.

Alone is a rare thing for me.  Babygirl loves to travel, bless her, and would happily have come along if there had been enough room on the return trip.  But it's nice to just be inside your own head for a few minutes.  The sense of peace leftover from Thursday's final rush still wrapped around my shoulders, I was able to fully engage the world around me.  The remaining fall foliage, a subdued but still incredibly beautiful mix of bare trees and muted yellows and oranges, was lit by the dying sun for the first two hours of the drive.  And the final hour was magical.

I caught my first glimpse of the rising full moon in my sideview mirror and caught my breath.  C.S. Lewis spoke in The Last Battle about how the view in a mirror sometimes appears more 'real' than the original, and this was one of those moments.  For the rest of the hour the moon played peekaboo with my eyes and my mirrors as I drove up and down the hills of western New York State, giving the appearance of perpetual moonrise as I began the descent side of hill after hill. 

In the last ten minutes of the journey it poured light through the moonroof of my car, highlighting the heads and shoulders of the deer grazing on each side of the road, and casting shadows from the autumn trees.  As I got out of my car at 8, I had a glimpse of the thumb-print depression of the partial eclipse, barely visible against the incredible brightness. 

I walked my moonshadow to the lovely log cabin that is just one of my many homes, exactly 200 miles and three hours after setting out.

However crazy the next two weeks might be (and it will be plenty crazy), the kickoff was worth it.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Year Three, Week 27 - Laying in Supplies.....

Time has, as usual, gotten away from us.  We're two days away from the Great Old Folks invasion and we are not exactly ready.  So, during my workday today, I plotted time management strategy. 

I arrived home, made a plate of breakfast-for-dinner for my Mom (it sounds like I do this all the time, but I swear it's less than once a week!), and Hubby, Babygirl and I headed out the door.  We had a meal at a Chinese buffet and went power shopping.

It was one of those trips where not only do you need extra stuff for incoming guests, but you also need absolutely everything else.

Laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, napkins, paper towels, and lordy, don't forget the toilet paper.  Hand soap, toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, and DAMN, I forgot the razors. Cat food and litter.  Milk, eggs, cheese, tortillas, bread, onions, garlic, pepper, peanut butter and ketchup.  Cereal, yogurt, meat, fruit, and veggies.  Birthday cake and ice cream and candles.

Seriously.  I'm not sure what we've been living on.  We filled two carts in each of two stores.

I think all we didn't need was potatoes.   And we may find out later in the week that we were wrong. 

But there is something inherently satisfying in stocking up.  This is the time of year where having some extra put up feels warm and homey.  Knowing that we are supplied against any immediate emergency is energizing and peaceful at the same time.  Seeing apples overflowing the fruit bowl and squash and pumpkins decorating the mantle because there isn't room for them in the kitchen?  It feels like we are ready for the storm.

I think this is the first time in over two years when I have felt that way - ready.  It may be carelessly na├»ve, but there's so much bad behind us.  Maybe, just maybe, we can breathe for a minute and enjoy the gift of our older family members.  I expect there'll be a lot of laughter, a lot of memories, a lot of love. 

I can count on my fingers the number of times I've been able to spend a few days with my Aunt.  We've been separated by a continent my entire life.  I've been out there twice, and she's been here half a dozen times - and each time we reconnect, as if we'd never really been so far away. She's a fire-cracker readhead with short woman attitude.  I re-learn each time how to make a dry martini (oooppss need some gin and vermouth and maybe some olives?), but I'll never forget that it isn't safe to let her make the drinks.  Her drinks are responsible for the first of perhaps four times in my  life that I've ever been drunk.  In fact, I can recall lying on the rug in my living room complaining that my ears were too heavy.  Stop laughing - they WERE.

So all I need to do is survive work tomorrow and head west to get my dad.  In the morning we'll swing north to the airport and come home in time for dinner - steaks on the grill, garden salad, and gnocchi with fresh pesto. 

And then let the good times begin!


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bring on the Bad Language....

My office is one the last in our organization to switch to fully electronic medical records.  I've been hearing the complaints and moans of my colleagues for the past two years as the change has been implemented.  I've taken my Mom to her doctor and watched him carrying her 20-pound paper chart on his little mobile computer desk.  It's easily three times heavier than his laptop.  I haven't seen him open it for any reason - I think it's just a security-blanket kind of thing.  And even he has begun to admit that once you get the hang of it, it's a good idea.

We've begun.  For the last month all of our prescription renewals have been handled online.  It's lead to some interesting mistakes, none thus far harmful.  Prescriptions meant for local pharmacies have gone mail-order and vice versa.  Medications whose doses have been adjusted but not recorded in the medication list have come back to haunt us.  I've been frustrated to be partially trained.  I can renew a prescription, add a problem to the problem list (the computer insists that I should have an actual REASON to be writing a prescription, imagine that!) but I can't check to see when I last saw the patient or view their most recent lab reports. 

This week we "go live".  I have a ton of training time, and based on the experience of other offices they've cut our patient load from 5/hour to two.  I expect the learning curve to be steep and ugly, and the Bad Words are already flying.

In the long run it will be a very good thing.  It will increase accuracy, decrease the number of times I write a prescription only to discover that the patient's insurance won't cover it.  It will tell me immediately if a procedure requires prior authorization.  And each 'chart' will be completed before I even leave the patient's side - no more waiting for transcriptions.  And I'll bet the spellcheck will let me use the word 'colonoscopy' without suggesting that I really meant 'kaleidoscope'. 

I've seen how the electronic medical record makes things simpler for Babygirl when we go to CHOP.  They know her medications, her pharmacy, her history - it's all at their fingertips.  I've watched them create graphs of lab values to follow trends (something I've had to do by hand for my patients).  I've seen how her kidney doctors know, less than 20 minutes after we've seen him, what her neurologist is planning to do.

Here's what makes me sure I'll make it:

If my mom's doctor, ten years my senior and firmly convinced that Barack Obama himself personally looted his retirement fund, can figure this out and make it look like a good idea, anybody can.  I can handle this.

Just remind me to wash my mouth out with soap before you talk to me in church on Sunday.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Little Discouraging Things.....

My housekeeper did not show up yesterday morning. 

Seriously, that was all it took for me to pull out my personal broomstick and ride it through the universe.  Well, that and only 3 hours of sleep.

I haven't had a cleaning helper all that long, but it is amazing how much can get done by two people in four hours compared to one person in any amount of time.   I tried calling and discovered that his number is one of several that my new phone just  re-assigned a new number to, so if he doesn't get in touch I won't be able to find him (I already checked the phone book - he has a unique name.  He's not there).  It's most likely due to the not-next-week-the-week-after stuff that happens here all the time, so I have to make sure someone is here at 7 AM next Saturday in case he comes, and look for someone new if he doesn't. 

So....the kitchen is clean (thanks, JuJuBee) and the upstairs bath (thanks, Hubby) and the downstairs bath, sort of (um, thanks, JuJu) and Mom's bath (me).  And I did what I'd planned:  Hands-and-knees scrub of the living room floor with a full closet cleanout. 

What didn't get done?  The dining room floor, and all of the sweep-and-mop of Mom's side of the house.  This would matter less if we'd cleaned last week (wedding trumps cleaning!) or if we weren't accepting houseguests, who will have to stay on her side of the house, in just six days. 

I have to say I slept well.  I also have to admit that my triceps are not happy and I still have another floor to scrub. 

It amazes me sometimes that I handle some of the big stuff with less hysteria than some of the little stuff.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Year Three, Week 26 - Preparing for a Crowd.....

Conversation with Mom, every night this week:

"Is your Dad coming here?"



Next Saturday.

"Did you say Aunt Squirrely is coming too?"


"How is she getting here?"

She's flying.

"Is she coming alone?"

Nope, H is coming with her to help.

"Who's H?"

Squirrely's granddaughter.

Add random questions about who/what/where/when/why and variations on that.  It's exhausting, absolutely brain-wearing, to answer the Same.  Exact.  Questions.  Over and over and over again.

But likely not as exhausting as it will be to have two frail, elderly houseguests and an unknown fourteen year old first cousin once removed (my first cousin's kid - that makes H Babygirl's second cousin?  I think?) for two weeks. 

I'm not sure how this happened, exactly.  But dang, I need to clean.  And buy wine.  LOTS of wine.


Sunday Rambles.....

Sunday began with another morning breakfast at the lakeside.  We packed all of our gear, and loaded the truck (in the traditional downpour that opening the truck cover engenders).  We checked out of the KOA with plans to come back someday, and headed for church.

The church our friends were married in is pastored by our former pastor,  so it was wonderful to worship there with him and his wife and most of the people from our own church who had attended the wedding.  After church, the pastor and his wife took us to tour the new building their congregation is moving into in a few weeks - amazing, amazing space!  Seven of us had lunch together, giving the mother-of-the-groom a much needed opportunity to decompress all of her wedding stress.  It's always entertaining to hear the behind-the-scenes drama.  Who knew the cake had almost fallen over?

On the way to the wedding we had passed an outlet mall, and on the way home decided to check it out.  We spent more than a few hours shopping - clothes, shoes, kitchen gear, food - it was all great fun, and the heavens did NOT open every time we loaded a couple of bags into the back of the truck.  Perhaps that is reserved for a full load-up.

We got home without getting lost, unpacked without getting soaked, and slept like babies in our own beds.

It's hard to say what the best part of the day was.  Worship.  Lakeside.  Bargain-hunting.  Two hours of laughter and love with old friends.  Enjoying the whole package with Hubby and Babygirl. 

Yeah.  That last thing.  The whole package.  We have a very good life.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dance Like No One Is Watching.....

We woke up on Saturday to a gloomy day.  I had my coffee and toast out on our little covered porch, admired the trees and watched the fish jump in the lake.  Despite the cloud cover it was unseasonably warm for October - I didn't even need a sweater.

When everybody was up, we debated what to do with our free time before the wedding a 2.  We piled into the truck and drove half an hour through the rain to Point Breeze on Lake Ontario.  Babygirl has done a lot of travel through Pennsylvania because of her kidney transplant, but she hasn't seen much of New York State! 

The lighthouse was open (thank God it wasn't a federal park!), so we got to climb to the top and admire the view.  It was eye-opening for Babygirl to see a body of water so ocean-like, so big that we couldn't see the other side.  We walked out to the end of the harbor jetty in the rain, wind lashing and waves splashing over the rocks.  Between the spray and rain we were soaked to the skin, but the simple adventure of it was SO worth it!  Babygirl came to understand the purpose of the jetties when she saw how calm the river mouth was compared to the open lake.

We drove back to camp, enjoying the scenery.  We crossed the Erie Canal several times on several different types of bridges - some that were high enough to allow for the boats, some drawbridges, and one swivel bridge.  The Erie Canal song is still stuck in my head ("I got an old mule and her name is Sal, fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.....Low bridge!  Everybody down!  Low bridge, for we're comin' to a town...").  Yes, I know the whole song.  There's a lot of music in my cerebral MP3 player.

We bought produce from local farm markets, defying the 'never eat anything larger than your own head' rule.  We shopped for shoes - odd, yes, I know.  And naturally, we were running late when we got back to camp.

But one of the advantages of being in a camp is that there are camp showers.  Hubby took the cabin bath over and Babygirl and I hiked (about 30 feet I think LOL) to the camp showers, and we were all ready on time.

The wedding was lovely, the bride and her maids beautiful, the groom and his men handsome, the flower girls sweet as angels (good disguise, by the way) and the ring bearer adorable and entertaining. 

The reception was awesome.  Good food, good friends, good music.  All the old dances were played - the Macarena, the Electric Slide, and so on. Hubby and I got to dance some slow ones, and Babygirl danced and danced and danced.  And danced some more.  It was hysterical to watch Babygirl and Hubby do the Harlem Shake and Gangnum Style. 

We came to our Kabin laughing and exhausted, Hubby and I knowing we were going to be a bit stiff in the morning.  But it was worth it all to see Babygirl so happy and free and energetic.  She's pretty self-contained and reserved, but we all let go and danced as if no one else was watching.

These are the moments that make memories.  The moments where you are fully present, fully engaged, and fully joyous in the celebration of the birth of a new family. 

Congrats, Ryan.  Congrats, Jess.  "May all your troubles be little ones."


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Year Three, Week 25 - Out of Town....

We were blessed to be invited to the wedding of some good friends.  It was over three hours away from home, so we needed to plan ahead.  So naturally, we didn't, really. 

About 3 weeks ago I started looking for somewhere to stay.  Now, this wedding was happening in a REALLY small town, and there wasn't much in the way of accommodation.  The local motel had internet ratings approaching zero stars and comments like, "The owner is too old to clean.  Don't stay here unless you like the smell of mold."  Well.

Most of our travel with Babygirl since her transplant was to family's homes, or to our (always clean on our arrival) beach house.  I hadn't really considered the implications of cheap motel hygiene. 

But we are nothing if not flexible, so I looked at alternatives.  And one really excellent alternative is KOA Kampgrounds. 

Now, camping in the northeast in October is almost guaranteed to be a nightmare.  If it isn't raining, it's cold.  Tonight, for example, is lovely with a frost warning. 

But KOA Kampgrounds have Kabins.  (Yes.  They spell EVERYTHING possible with a 'K'.)  We've used the Kabins before.  They are Kute.  And Kozy.  Which, literally translated, means 'impossibly small.'  The last time we used them, we had narrow bunks, a double bed, and a porch.  But hey, it's just three of us, and we have Kamping gear, so as long as we have heat and power we're cool.  Sorry, Kool.

So I Googled KOA, found the one nearest the wedding and discovered that they have some awesome Kabins that sleep up to 8 people and include a full bath and partial kitchen!  We opted for one that sleeps 4 (a small bunk room and a queen-sized bed in the room with the kitchen/table).  It had a covered porch about 15 feet from the edge of a beautiful small lake, surrounded by changing leaves.  It was 5 miles from the church and 10 miles from the reception.  Perfect.

We put the address in our GPS and drove off into the rainy dark (by the way, if you are in need of rain, give us a call.   We'll stop by and open up the back of the truck to load/unload and the heavens will open, guaranteed).  Now, you need to understand something about me.  I am NEVER bored.  And this is because, like a toddler, I am willing to fiddle with just about any damned thing. 

So, I played with the GPS.  I pushed every button.  I changed the voice from Jan (who gives detailed instructions) to Michelle (who just announces, 'Turn right HERE!') to Yeti (who grunts when the turns are coming and gives an exasperated growl when you miss it).  I watched us change altitude, direction, speed and icon type  (Hubby likes the one with the dog hanging his head out the window).  I discovered that we can get audiobooks on the GPS and listen while.......holy crap, we missed our exit 20 miles ago!  

Ooooppppsss.  That's when I discovered the little red button turns off Jan.  Or Michelle, or Yeti or whoever.   We re-entered our destination and traveled down unlighted country roads in a dark so dense it looked like we were riding in a videogame.  We arrived only a few minutes after our scheduled time, checked into our Kozy little Kabin and crashed.  Krashed. 

And despite the detour, we had an excellent time on the ride.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Year Three, Week 24 - Courage to Admit It...

Babygirl grumbled and complained about missing another day of school to go to Philly.  She's generally pretty good about the crap that goes with being sick a lot, but this one just made her angry somehow.  We got to our home-away-from-home Sunday, and were both hit with a big batch of I-Can't-Sleep.  Since we share a room there, we had some slumber party style conversation.  If kids at slumber parties talk about being chronically ill, or insomnia, or hating to miss school and stuff like that.

I find Babygirl's anger to be a good thing.  It means she' thinking for herself, looking for her own path and coping with her feelings - finally admitting out loud how strong those feelings are.  She as much as said that she doesn't feel like anything is actually different with her life, or it wouldn't be - if she were allowed to just live it.

She has a point.

So we drove to the city and saw the docs and got the results of the tests and drove home and went back to living our lives. 

And I contemplated what I've learned this week about courage.

Babygirl's, in accepting all that's happened and still carrying on with her life.  Her courage is letting the anger out but not letting it stop or change her.

Her doctors', in being willing to say when they don't completely understand what is causing a problem and being willing to let things evolve without intervening in ways that could make things worse.

Mine, for not jumping in and demanding an answer - for being able to come to grips with the fact that we'll never in this life have the answer to most of our questions anyway.  Loving Babygirl is a gift beyond all price, and there is no amount of sickness or sorrow that can make that gift less.  Living our lives to the fullest possible measure within the context of the limitations we've been given appears to me to be the only possible path to Joy.  Living in denial of reality is not an option.

Admitting the limits of our strength and knowledge is infinitely preferable to playing make-believe.  Carrying on despite those gaps, in the knowledge and full acceptance of those limits seems to me to be a better choice that building our lives on false hopes and fake sunshine. 

The solid foundation of my faith is built on Truth.  The foundation of my hope is Love.  The reality of our lives does not alter either of these things in any way.