Monday, July 30, 2007

Peer Pressure--Not Just For Teens

I succumbed to peer pressure and I have been kicking myself all weekend!

9 yo Paul was invited to spend the weekend on vacation with a friend of his. He has spent a lot of time with this family so I didn't have any hesitations about him going with them.

He was all packed up and very excited when they came. He rushed out to their car as I chatted with the mom and handed her the medical release. Just as she was heading to the car I realized Paul didn't have his carseat. As I mentioned it to the mom she looked at me strangely and said, "He still uses a car seat?"

"Well, you know, a booster," I explained.

She still had a look of surprise and I remembered that her son had long since stopped using a booster.

Our state has very strict carseat regulations. Kids are to be in a booster until they are 60 pounds--AND 4' 8" tall. That's big! The problem is, most kids hit about first or second grade and most parents stop using one even though their children are not yet big enough. Our pediatrician was on the medical board that instituted the law so we are constantly reminded of the necessity and safety of the continued use of carseats. Add that to my own "safety freakiness" and it's a wonder I don't make my kids take their driver's permit in some type of safety seat :-) We follow the rule religiously and I even put the kids in highback boosters on long car trips. Kim just recently quit using a booster and she is 10.

Anyhoo, Paul is no where near the height and weight requirement--he is very small. I do allow him to go short distances over to friends houses when riding in friends' cars because he finds it embarrassing for me to haul out his booster when most of his friends no longer ride in theirs. This is where I begin to balance the safety issue against the psychological issue.

Which is the exact reason I hesitated to insist he take his booster on the trip with his friend. I walked out to their car and looked at him smiling in the backseat, all buckled up (with no booster). I did look to see that the seatbelt was not up near his neck--it wasn't. Then, I imagined how he might be embarrassed if I brought out his booster seat. And I thought about how the other mother didn't seem to think it was necessary.

SO I SAID OKAY AND LET THEM DRIVE OFF!!! I gave into peer pressure! And even tho I know he would have possibly been embarrassed, and even tho I know the other mother thought I was strange to still have him using a booster, the RIGHT thing for me to do would have been to just go get it and have him use it! They were going on a three hour car drive!

So, here I sit on Monday. Anxiously awaiting their return. Reminded of just how peer pressure can get us in trouble, even when we are 44.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

More Shopping!

I still wake up every morning in amazement that Joe is alive. God must have a very, very special plan for him and we feel so very blessed. Joe actually drove a car yesterday! He hasn't driven in months so this was wonderful!

Now that Joe is home and recovering we are able to focus on Vu's homecoming once again. Even when Joe was at his worst and even when we believed Joe was not going to make it, we never wavered in our desire and our decision to bring Vu home--whatever happened. He is our son. He will come home no matter what! In so many ways he has been our hope and joy during Joe's cancer.

Yesterday I had some fun shopping. As you know, I detest shopping but shopping for Vu is fun! Since I KNEW we were going to adopt a girl I had saved most of Kim's outgrown clothing but I had given away all of Paul and Patrick's. What would I need boy clothes for? LOL!

As it turns out, all three little boys will be similar in size. Patrick is one size smaller than Paul, and Vu, one size smaller than Patrick. This will certainly work nice for hand-me-downs and emergency sharing. They all need new p.j.s so I bought three cute sets featuring firetrucks, footballs and bulldozers. Even tho Vu will be my sixth son, it is still fun to buy boy clothes! I also bought six pairs of jeans which I found on sale. Yeah! Oh, and some new undies too (even tho wearing them apparently can ruin ones' life!)

Next on the shopping agenda was the fabric store. I have made each of my babies a special little baby blanket and I want to do the same for Vu, enlarging the size. All three of my little ones still like cuddling up with their baby blankets.

As I perused the shelves I was originally looking for a flannel that a "big-boy" would like. I mean, Vu will be almost six so I was thinking some bright soccer print. But, as I continued to look, it occurred to me that it would actually be nice to make him the baby blanket I was never able to. The baby blanket he never had. He has never had a chance to be a baby in our family and some of the best advice I am getting is to treat him like a baby when he first comes home--carry him, hold him, sleep with him, hand feed him, baby him. So, I decided on a soft flannel featuring tiny, pastel colored cars and trucks. I'll patchwork it with some soft, light-blue flannel. It's baby-ish but I think Vu will like all the cars and trucks.

Let the preparations continue!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

From The Depths Of Despair To The Heights Of Glory

Where do I even begin? My life has changed since my last post. I can't even begin to put into words everything that has happened, everything I felt. We went from the depths of despair to the heights of glory.

On Monday, July 9, I received a phone call at 7 am telling me our son was being put on life support. Joe, our 21 yo, has been battling cancer for the last 15 months. He has been in the midst of a stem cell transplant and had been battling what doctors believed to be pneumonia. To make a long story short, his life was saved by a doctor who finally figured out he had a lung condition (ARDS) that was actually unrelated to his stem cell transplant but was brought on by the huge stress his body was enduring. Our son was put on life support. Our son was not expected to live. Joe's lungs were filling with fluid and blood, the lining of his heart was leaking, he was bleeding internally, his kidneys and liver were struggling, he was running fevers of 105; his body was failing.

But, his spirit was not. Doctors tried to keep Joe in a medically induced coma but the doctor said that was kind of like sedating a horse as Joe had such a strong will to live. In the one time I saw the doctor get emotional, he said that Joe wanted SO MUCH to live. He wanted to go home. We all knew that was not likely to happen. Joe's oncologist said there was no more hope but his pulmonologist said the situation was grim but he was a "glass half-full kind of guy" and he wouldn't give up hope until every last ounce of hope was gone. We clung to that hope.

The next few days were both a blurr and yet seemed to pass in slow motion. I often felt like I was in a movie, just going through the motions. At times I felt numb. At times I felt such a depth of sadness that I knew if I completely let go the planets would come out of alignment and I would never be able to pull my emotions together again. I held on to the trust that God would do what He knew to be right, even if it wasn't my plan. His plan is always better. Some memories are forever etched in my mind:

*Getting the phone call and hearing the doctors prognosis.
*Seeing my son on life support.
*Praying over the phone with our minister and hearing him recount how Lazarus was raised from the dead and clinging onto the hope that God might do the same for our son.
*Day two, crying into the phone with a dear friend, telling her what was happening and having her tell me I needed to hang onto hope. My tearful reply, "At this point, there is no hope."
*Calling my mom, who was watching our younger children, and telling her she needed to prepare 10 yo Kim for Joe's death. Kim is very attached to Joe and very tender-hearted. I knew his death would be especially hard for her.
*Praying with Eric and praying for a miracle--grasping hope once again.
*Hearing the 23rd Psalm fill my mind over and over again--"Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for you are with me." Trusting God.
*Experiencing the love and concern of so many family and friends who did everything from watch our children to clean our house to bring us dinner and fastfood/Starbucks gift cards. I have never felt so loved and cared for.
*The knowledge that literally THOUSANDS of people were praying for Joe--this lifted the weight so much to know that whatever happened, we KNEW God heard.
*The realization on Thursday that our fear of Joe dying was not the worst thing that could happen. We began to fear that his body would heal but he would be on life support for years. Despite sedation, Joe would become semi-conscious and made it very clear he did not want to be on life support.

Thursday evening, things were grim. Turning the vent down just a little had been disastrous. Joe had to be revived and doctors were having a hard time controlling his vitals. Joe remembers overhearing the doctors say that it may be time for the family to say their goodbyes. Joe says he remembers thinking, "Don't let me die!" He remembers feeling God's presence around him.

Joe lived. Over the course of the night, he improved in ways that could only be described as a miracle. Saturday morning he was taken off life support and he was talking, drinking water, and even standing up and walking around! He wasn't even on oxygen, which doctors felt he might need for the rest of his life due to his lung damage! I still stand in awe at the turn of events.

That very night, Joe was doing so incredibly well, he was taken out of ICU and taken back up to the regular floor! By Wednesday, he was well enough to go back home with his wife. His stem cell transplant was on-course and he was ready to return to his home.

Joe says he feels better than he has in two years. I still wake up every morning wondering if it was all a bad dream and stand in amazement at the miracle that has occurred.

The Sunday after our miracle, here was the verse up in our church; both Eric and I cried as we read it:

"Blessed be the Lord day by day,
The God of our salvation, who bears our burdens.
He is our God, the God of our salvation;
God is the Lord, by whom we escape death."

Psalm 68: 19-20


Hug your kids a little tighter, don't sweat the small things, pick up the phone and reconnect with a loved one, rejoice in your life and live life to the fullest! Reach out to God and fill your heart and home with his love!


Friday, July 6, 2007

Dreaming Of Tomorrow

We spent the 4th with my parents. They live in a small town and so we had a great, hometown holiday complete with a parade in which my children filled gallon size Ziplocks with candy. I'm sure our dentist is going to love us for that!

All through the parade I was thinking of Vu and how he is going to be with us next year. That's what it's like having a child across the world. I just think about him all the time and I am constantly calculating 14 hours ahead.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

DISCOVERED! The Key To A Clean House!

I have FINALLY discovered the key to a perfectly clean house! My house looks like it came out of a magazine and it has been that way for three days now! Isn't that amazing???

My secret? Don't have kids or pets!

I have been all alone in my house for the past four days. Never, since I have had children, has this most amazing thing happened. I have been away from my children for a few days when dh and I go on a trip somewhere, but I have never been home alone. I mean, just a few hours alone rarely happens . . . but four days?

Honestly, I didn't know what I wanted to do with this precious time alone. There were so many options, it was a bit mind-boggling. It was unplanned that I would be staying home but Joe is still in the hospital. Eric's mother was celebrating her 80th birthday, which had been planned for a year and included a big family reunion taking place at my parent's cabin, which is our children's favorite place on earth! Anyhoo, after a lot of consideration, we decided Eric would go with all the kids (and the dog), and I would stay home to be near Joe. And actually, our 17 yo stayed home too, so I wasn't truly alone, but this chance to have one-on-one with him and been wonderful too!

The first day I cleaned the house the entire day. Not just cleaning it, but CLEANING it. DEEP! My window sills have never looked so shiny! And now, three days later, my house is still sparkling clean! The family arrives home in three hours, so I'd better just sit and stare a little longer.

I spent time attending my current college class in biology. I thought it would be a fun class, like dissecting frogs but no, it's lots of memory like kingdoms and species and chemistry and evolution. So far, quite boring but also needing time spent studying and memorizing. Yuck!

I spent precious time with Joe at the hospital. His wife is with him 24/7 so he is never, ever alone, which makes me happy. I still worry about him a lot and it was nice to have quiet time alone to think about him and pray for him.

The rest of my time was spent revitalizing my inner and outer self! I gave myself a manicure and pedicure. I shaved BOTH legs in the SAME day AND my pits! How's that for an accomplishment??? I went to Starbuck's and the bookstore. I read most of Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire. Well, I read some and listened to a lot on unabridged CD. Lizzy approved this--I am not cheating :-)

Other memories include eating dinners out with Will, and watching movies together--"Big Mama" and "Castaway." It was nice just to be together. I stayed up late, slept in until 8, drank Coke, ate junkfood and vegged-out! I had planned to do some scrapbooking but somehow, that failed to materialize. I guess there's only so many hours in a day--even for slugs.

And now, I am sooo ready for my family to come back. I have missed them! And while I've discovered that the key to a clean house is no kids, I have also discovered it's the key to a lonely, too quiet life. But for a few days? Nice . . . very, very nice.