Thursday, July 28, 2011

Three Years

Three years ago today, Samuel's life changed permanently--and therefore ours did too.  It was the day that my boy, my precious and sweet child, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

It was a complete shock, and Howard and I were like deer in headlights (Howard even more than I knew at the time).  Sam had been increasingly lethargic over the weekend, and complaining of weak legs.  He looked very thin.  But: it was summer, and we thought he was just growing, logey from the heat...and whiney.  Howard (keen eye that he has) noticed that our boy was going through periods of rapid deep breathing.  But, we thought it was simply some little thing, and I even felt silly for having decided to take Samuel to the pediatrician that Monday morning.  After that, we were supposed to spend a special "Mum and Samuel" day together. 

Instead, by noon, we were at the emergency department at Children's Hospital, having him admitted.  He was already a very sick little boy, in ketoacidosis.  He ended up with IVs in both of his arms, and for a couple of days he was in semi-intensive care.  My boy, who wasn't even born in a hospital, was terrified.  At first he fought every single injection and blood sugar test.  He begged to go home so that he wouldn't have to have shots anymore.  It broke our hearts that going home wouldn't change that at all.  But, insulin shots were going to keep the boy alive so, damnit, I was going to figure it out with him. 

I can't even begin to thank all the friends, family, and colleagues who helped us through that first week or two.  So many people listened to and comforted us; several shared stories of loved ones with Type 1 diabetes who lived long, healthy lives.  I loved those stories then, and I still do.

It's hard, now, to remember what life was like "pre-diabetes."  It's such an important thing that it quickly became routine.  Samuel was so brave: within a few months, he was testing his own blood sugar.  The school nurse was incredible, encouraging him and caring for him and keeping lines of communication open with us.  Our team at Children's Hospital is superb.  The kids' after-school program coordinators took initiative to make sure that all the staff there knew how to help Samuel.  I'd like to think that we've done okay by the boy, too.

But, in the end: it's Samuel who has made all the difference, who has done the work to remain healthier than most kids without chronic conditions.  He's an amazing kid.  I know that I couldn't face that inset every couple of days:

It breaks my heart that, short of a cure, he will never have a day free of this--of consciously thinking about carbohydrates and insulin and blood glucose levels--for the rest of his life.  But, every day when I open my eyes, I am thankful for insulin.  I am thankful for the fact that my kid got a condition that he can live with--without terrible pain, without limitations on what he can do.  He can have a long, full, active, rich life. 

So, while I still hope for a cure someday, I appreciate today. 

Three years and counting.  I love you, Sam.  You are one heck of a special kid. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Office Invasions

"Mum!  Mum!  Look!"  Anya is holding up her toes, splayed open. "I'm bleeding!"  I take a closer look. "Don't touch it!!!" she squeals.  I touch anyway, and tell her "Honey, it was a piece of fuzz from your pink sock."  "Oh," she says in her own delightful way, drawing a two-letter word out into at least three syllables.  She skips away happily.

Samuel asks "Can I have lorna doone cookies for a bedtime snack?"  No, I tell him, those are only for after dinner and he already had an ice cream sandwich for dessert tonight.  He looks disappointed, then gets a twinkle in his eye and tells me "Well, it's still after dinner."  I laugh out loud, tell him "nice try," and send him on his way to think of another snack.

Another time, Sam comes in after summer program and looks worried.  He tells me "I lost your flashlight.  I'm really sorry."  I tell him that it's okay, when I lent it to him for his field trip, I knew that might happen.  We'll get me another one later.  I hug him.

Anya, without asking, climbs onto my lap and buries her face in my shirt, inhaling deeply.  She cooes and sighs, lingering there, and is content when she gets off my lap.  Nothing soothes her like my smell, even at 6 years old.

From the kids' arrival in mid afternoon forward, my work is full of such interruptions.  Sometimes it's frustrating, especially when they repeatedly break my concentration.  But, in the end, I wouldn't have it any other way.

I love these children. 

(okay, it's not a pic from the office, but how could I resist? )

What are your favorite work interruptions?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dream House

One day in Ecuador, the kids actually spent a long (and happy) time drawing floor plans for their dream houses.  Sam's looked like this:

His dream house includes a pool, an arcade, a game room (for card and board games), a library, a theater, and a bowling alley.  He says he is going to have servants to do everything.

Here are pieces of Anya's floor plan--it's a little harder to read:

Anya's floor plan includes a great guest room for me, most of the stuff that Samuel put into his floor plan, plus a bat cave in the attic and a doughnut shop (but I'm not sure which floor that was on). 

Howard says that his dream house includes a great movie theater room and many secret passages. 

Mine?  Of course, I can't settle on one.  On the one hand, I dream of a great victorian-style house with a huge library with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, a library ladder, and comfy reading chairs.  This dream house would have a beautiful, big, and functional kitchen, and lots of cozy places to sit (including a window seat somewhere).  On the other hand, I have always dreamed of a little cottage to myself: simple but comfortable, not big or fancy but well equipped.  Just enough room for me to live, work, create.  Either in the woods or near the ocean.

Screened porch is required in either dream house.  And a deep, cast iron tub (not big, but deep for soaking). 

I love my house, and it suits us well...but, there is always the dream house.  Or houses, in my case.

What's your dream house look like?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Capturing Summer

Really, this is just an addendum to yesterday's post.  My favorite summer photo so far.  How does that girl manage to exhibit sheer joy in so many photos???

She's hard to resist...and I am not a fan of hot weather!  But, I must admit: the smell of salt air and the sound of water lapping on shore always manages to calm and center me, regardless of the season or the weather.  I love the ocean.

What images, activities, or words capture summer joy for you?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Life Resumed

After four or five days of mostly just goofing around, life is slowly getting back to normal. 

I have two new bookcases, so I was finally able to organize my office.  It feels much more like a credible work space now.

The kids are also back to their old selves.  Sam is happy with his new, digital watch.  He's busy timing things and setting alarms. 

Anya likes to play in her new "wig" that she made at camp.  Have you ever seen a cuter weird little kid? 

And here I am, on my beloved screened-in porch...blogging with a glass of red wine in hand, awaiting one of my favorite dinners: grilled swordfish, steamed broccoli, and sweet potato oven fries with coriander and brown sugar.  The only thing missing?  Blueberry cake for dessert.  That would round out the "summer in New England" meal I'm having.  Walk on the beach comes later. 

What do you enjoy about your daily existence? 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Love that Dirty Water

Yes, I'm back in Boston.  Observations upon arriving (both from the air and on the ground):
Boston is small, flat, and hot.  And much more lush than when I left.

I am very happy to be back in my home, particularly at a time when I can use the screened porch, cleaned for me and set with a sunflower as a welcome-home present.  (I adore sunflowers.)

I am also happy to be able to drink tap water without having to boil it first.

However, I am sad to be away from the archives, and I already miss the wonderful fruits and rich avocados.  I am already defeated by the heat.  And it is depressing to have to clean my office...and see those two suitcases?  Full of books.

Where the hell am I going to put all those books?

It's strange to be dropped in the middle of summer after missing so much of life here.  But, never fear: I kept up with all the important news.  The Bruins won the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1972, and Whitey was finally caught.  Both were big headlines, even in my email updates from our local NPR station. 

What does traveling make you realize about your home life?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

It was Worth a Try

Howard and the kids just left Quito yesterday morning, and they are now safely back in Quincy.  Last weekend, though, filled with guilt over not having shown the kids much of Ecuador, we decided to go to Otavalo.

Otavalo is a 2-hour bus ride north of Quito.  It's a small-ish town (though it's grown dramatically in recent years), and it's famous for its "indigenous" market.  Otavalo is an interesting place: a cluster of its indigenous peoples have been very successful selling craft goods (weavings, jewelery, trinkets) both there and around the world.  This does not mean that all indigenous Otavalans are well off--they aren't.  But it does mean that in Otavalo--ah, only in Otavalo--you can encounter mestizos trying to look like Indians. 

Anyway, the trip started out well, with the kids on the bus, anticipating fun.

But, then the bus ride itself did them in.  Or, more precisely, it did Anya in.  My girl inherited my rather sensitive stomach, so she gets car sick sometimes.  And, of course, bus rides in the Andes are not only bumpy, but also full of constant twists and turns and ups and downs.

Let's just say that when she got sick, it was rather spectacular.  We caught most of it in a bag.  By the end of the ride, she was exhausted and finally fell asleep:

We took a taxi back, despite the high cost.  It was a much better experience, and the cab drive was quite nice and chatty. 

The kids did at least get little gifties that they liked.  Anya got dolls that she sang to and played with constantly for a couple of days:

And Samuel got a flute.  A simple one, rather like a recorder only it sounds nice.  He's been experimenting with it, making up little tunes. 

So...though it wasn't the best day, at least it left me feeling less guilty that I hadn't taken them more places!

What "good plans" haven't worked out for you lately?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Watching the Clouds

Perhaps because they seem so close (at 9,000 feet altitude), or perhaps because I am grateful that they block the harsh rays of the equatorial sun, I am watching and loving clouds lately.  I thought I would share a few of my favorite shots with you here.

What do the clouds hold for you?

More Kid Art

As an unreasonably proud parent, I can't help but share a bit more of the latest kid art.  I find their artistic development fascinating, probaby because it reflects both their creative and cognitive advancements. 

For some reason, Anya is currently fascinated with Medusa (probably due to some movie she's recently watched):

But, she still has her sweet side, as is evident in this drawing she did of Samuel:

For the boy's part, it's been mostly monster drawings, because he brought a "how to draw 50 monsters" book to Quito with him.  He's been giving them as gifts, with nifty new names.  First is Feodor the Dwarf, given to Anya:

For me...a special request: Demon from the Second Planet Circling Sirius.  I find it both adorable and vicious.  Ah, my poor children: they don't stand a chance, do they?