Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Part Three: My Own Little Miracle

For a full recap: Part 1 and Part 2.

We arrived early for our induction. Dr. Johnson came in to break my water. She took the "crochet hook" instrument and proceeded to make the tiniest opening. I felt the warmth slowly trickle out and as I looked down I heard Dr. Johnson. Oh Sh@#! She exclaimed. Let me tell you, when your very kind and well-mannered doctor swears, you know two things... something just went wrong and your birth plan more than likely just flew out the window...

Or there is a third option. Dr. Johnson is also vocalizing exactly what she has encountered. "Normal" amniotic fluid is clear. What I quickly saw as I looked down was a pool of what looked like "pea soup," pooling underneath me. It was greenish-brown and I knew it was meconium. Meconium is a sign that a baby has somehow been stressed and has had their first bowel movement, in utero.

The rest of the day Murphy's law laid waste to any preconceived ideas I had concocted for myself about this birth experience. I was in bed for the day, tied to monitors and iv's. While priding myself on the ability to breathe through the initial contractions, as the crescendo of fastly intensifying contractions soared to unchartered magnitudes, my ability to cope with grace and dignity intact, waned.

I sent up the white flag and surrendered to the placement of the epidural in my back to assuage the pain. But not without, still another complication. I was allergic to the numbing medication they gave me and now had splotchy red hives breaking out all over. Oh the irony of deadening any sensation from the waist down while activating the most intense fiery itching from the waist up!

And then we were suddenly given the green light. I was 10 centimeters dilated. It was time to push. And push. And push and push and... push some more. On my back. Now on my side. How about on my knees? We carefully orchestrated each position while maneuvering iv's and oxygen masks and blood pressure cuffs and fetal monitors.

An hour passed. Then two. And three. Where was that white flag? And a fork... I was done. Convinced I couldn't do this. The baby was stuck. Dr. Johnson surmised it was facing the wrong way. Up, instead of down. But she kept telling me if she really thought I couldn't, she'd consider a c-section. But she thought I could. She tried the mighty-vac hoping that help with some suction on the baby's head might be the answer. After three pop-offs, she stopped, saying it was unsafe to proceed with any more.

In the meantime, I was deep within myself. I had long ago surrendered to needing some help. I prayed and talked to God, summoning some strength and courage to keep going. But a new thought was repeating itself over and over again in my head. What about that baby? What if he or she is scared too? The baby has been in that tunnel over three hours now. Why might he or she be finding it safer there, instead of in my arms? Because... I knew, in my heart, I still had the tiniest shred of doubt. I still didn't think I could handle whatever this baby was going to bring me. I was surrendered to it, resigned to it. But still not sure I could face it. And it was slowly occurring to me, that I was the one standing in the way of myself. I had to let it all go, every last ounce of it, released. I started blocking out the noises, the lights, the machines. I turned my only focus to reassuring the baby.

And wouldn't it be a beautiful thing to be able to tell you that is all it took and the baby came out? Well it didn't. But something did change. Dr. Johnson had been on the phone with a colleague who had a suggestion. He was coming in to see if he couldn't help "turn" the baby and facilitate the head through the last little bit. And as I had done before, I started to build a foundation of hope. "See baby? Mommy knows how you feel too. Its time we do this, together, no matter how uncertain we both are."

I might have retracted that thought had I known that Dr. C's idea was actually called "forceps." But in no uncertain terms, Dr. Johnson said this was it. And Dr. C said I had one chance. I would push with everything I had and he would turn the baby from face up, to face down. Believing for the first time that I had one chance to show this baby that not only was I ready, but excited to meet him or her, I pushed with renewed vigor and stamina, and the head popped out. While "searing pain" doesn't begin to describe what the forceps feel like, the amount of relief I felt when the head was out was indescribable.

One more push and the baby was out. And after all this time, while Dr. Johnson handed the baby off to the NICU team waiting, nobody remembered to tell me what I'd had! Girl, or boy? And then I saw, it was a BLUE hat they were placing on his head as they took him to be checked. They decided he sounded "chunky" and wanted to get him back to the NICU. They came to us to fill out the card on his bassinet and to let me get my first real peek at him. Nolan James. 7 lbs. 3 oz. 10:47 pm, May 14th, 2000. He was wide awake and alert. My eyes studied his. I slowly took in the landscape of his face, his tiny slender fingers, all that hair. He was perfect. In my heart I had all the answer I needed. Take a look. My own little miracle.

Two hours later Rick returned. Dr. Johnson and the NICU doctors had just finished checking Nolan over. Rick confirmed what we both had had seen with our eyes. They all concurred there were no visible signs of any birth defect.

But God hadn't done all of this work in my heart for no reason. I was being prepared. For just what, it would take awhile to unfold. It seems that in a lot of ways, our journey with Nolan was just beginning and being revealed to us. We had truly ended the chapter of this particular story. It turns out the name was not Down Syndrome. And even if it had been? I would unequivocally tell you, this much I believe, every baby is indeed a miracle.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Part Two: My Own Little Miracle.

To catch up or refresh your memory here is Part 1.

Over the next few days, I felt such sadness. I had many talks with God. What was it he wanted from me? What did he see in me that told him I could handle this? Was he sure? Was this why I had been so compelled to get a degree in, gulp, school psychology?

The joy of my pregnancy started to ooze out. The excitement I had once felt was being replaced with a dullness, and a longing to go back to the time I was blissfully unaware. I crawled in bed one night and finally let it all out. I grieved for what I perceived I may never see my baby be able to do one day. And as I let each little thought go, a new one started to replace it. How was I so sure that if I had a healthy child, I would be guaranteed any of these things? There were no guarantees, no promises for easy walks through life. What if I was putting so much on what I wouldn't have, that I was missing out on what I did have? I still had a baby. I was pregnant. A pregnancy that had take me three years to achieve. What happened to the joy that used to bring me? I also couldn't help but remember Ruth's words, "every baby is a miracle."

As I thought of each little thing, I began to build on them, this base of acceptance I was creating. It was tiny and fragile, but it was better than the free-fall of thoughts that I had been in before.

A week trudged by slowly. I awoke with resolve and a scratchy throat the morning of the "big stick." I had spent my week reading up on the tests and some of the possibilities the tests were trying to either rule out or diagnose. But it still felt so foreign to me. I couldn't believe the woman responsible for teaching her patients about "denial" was swallowing a mighty dose of it herself.

We already knew we did not want to find out the sex of the baby. The ultrasound tech was brisk and business-like. She carefully explained what she was looking for, what measurements she was taking and what some of the "soft markers" for Down Syndrome were. But I could hardly hear her. I was so focused on needing to just see the baby. I verified for myself, head, torso, arms, fingers, legs and feet. After the baby performed numerous somersaults and flips for us, the radiologist came in to view for himself. He looked for the longest time before he spoke. He could not tell us definitively one way or the other, if he thought the baby had Down Syndrome, but he could say he didn't see any obvious signs of some of the other things we were concerned with.

He caught me off guard with his first question. "What do you plan to do if you find out this fetus has a medical condition such as Down Syndrome?" I was confused by what he was asking us. I sort of gave him a helpless look and said "nothing." We would just love this baby, I mean we already do." He then asked " Are you certain you want to have the amniocentesis? Do you know the risks to possibly aborting a perfectly healthy fetus, if I don't get a good stick with the needle?" Uhhhhhh... I stammered. By this time my throat was on fire, I was hot and tired of laying on my back and he wanted to quiz me?

Thank goodness Rick, who had remained silent to this point, stepped in. He said, "Does the risk of us having a baby with down syndrome outweigh the risk of it being healthy? And therefore the risk of the amnio is worth taking for the information we may get from it? What are the statistics and what do they mean? If you were us what would you do? And that is when the doctor said, "if it were me, since you have already decided to have this baby, why risk the amnio? I will still do it if you want me to. But I think you stand a better chance of aborting a perfectly healthy fetus, than you do of having a baby with down syndrome."

In that moment, my burning desire "to know," disappeared. Gone. I was completely and utterly at peace, with not knowing. I may still have been in denial, but I no longer felt burdened by the possibility of what was to come. It was a little surreal and its somewhat difficult to put into words. I just didn't feel compelled to know.

However, Dr. Johnson was not amused. For being 4'11 and all of 100 pounds, you did not want to see her get her dander up! Oh, I riled her up good. She paced, she sputtered, she threw a fit. Didn't I realize my afp test result was the LOWEST score she had ever seen? Hadn't I been told that? No, I calmly told her. "Yes," she repeated, "in all of my 17 years as an OB, yours was the lowest." Didn't we need to know?

I told her I only needed to know one thing, could she deliver a baby with down syndrome? Yes, she could and she had, twice before. And I think when she saw that I wasn't being swayed by her, she started to relax. She pulled up a chair and then noticed my flushed face. She felt my forehead and as she did I mentioned my throat. She took one look at it and took a throat culture. When the rapid result came back as positive for strep throat she came in and hugged me. Then she apologized. She had jumped to the conclusion I would want to know and admittedly, she realized, not knowing was okay to. She promised in the future she would have this talk with her patients BEFORE they went to have any tests done.

I don't know that Rick or I ever looked back after that visit. I had no more ultrasounds, no more tests. I just went back to having normal doctor appointments. We didn't even talk about it. Or share it with very many people. I don't think we were trying to hide anything, we just didn't know anything very concrete to tell anyone. I had also started to realize, this baby didn't deserve any less of me. So I went back to pouring myself into mothering this little person inside of me and in no time I was feeling the elation of kicks and somersaults again.

With my due date looming, May 14th, (Mother's Day) I went in May 10th for my last check-up. I had hit the uncomfortable phase finally and was having shooting pains from the pressure on my sciatic nerve. Dr. Johnson proposed an induction for the next day. She chuckled when I mentioned a birth plan and said "Murphy's Law tends to interfere quite a bit when it comes to plans and births." but she would follow my wishes to the best of her ability.

We arrived early for our induction. Dr. Johnson came in to break my water. She took the "crochet hook" instrument and proceeded to make the tiniest opening. I felt the warmth slowly trickle out and as I looked down I heard Dr. Johnson. Oh Sh@#! She exclaimed. Let me tell you, when your very kind and well-mannered doctor swears, you know two things... something just went wrong and your birth plan more than likely just flew out the window... to be continued...

(I am not intentionally dragging this out, but as fate would have it, I have a scratchy sore throat and cough and have been resting as much as possible :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Own Little Miracle. Part One

I loved our Gitzen Girl's post yesterday, HDG:Miracles Abound. She was doing her Hump Day Giveaway yesterday, (yeah, sorry, it was over yesterday) and in honor of Stellan our MckMiracle baby, she used this Albert Einstein quote on her canvas: "There are two ways to look at life. One is as though nothing is a miracle; the other is as though everything is." She asked us to leave a comment about "a small miracle in your life that you are going to appreciate today." It brought me right back to the first time I really started paying attention to miracles.

The first time I ever heard someone say that "all babies are miracles" was when I was newly pregnant with Nolan. Her name was Ruth and she was the charge nurse at the psychiatric hospital I worked at, in Idaho. She had five children and only worked a couple of 12 hour shifts a week. She was of short stature, soft spoken, and had a pleasant, if quiet nature. I always felt like the ward was "under control" as much as possible for a psych ward, when she was on duty. When she heard the news that I was newly pregnant she smiled and said "they're gifts from God, every one of them." Please take very special care of that "miracle" inside.

Miracle? I thought. Hmmmm, I wasn't sure a baby qualified as the kind of miracle that I was accustomed to. She may have sensed my skepticism, so she went on. "Every day, thousands of cells are growing inside. Its all planned out and carefully orchestrated. The cells grow and divide and start to make tissue and bones, organs and parts. Just think about how millions of things have to go right every day, in the making of a healthy baby. Yep, every baby is a miracle." She smiled and walked away.

The first half of my pregnancy flew by. I felt good, was able to work all day and my doctor's appointments went well. With plans for an early departure back to Minnesota for Christmas I went in for my blood work for my pre-natal tests. I had THE BEST doctor who worked at the same hospital I did. I knew her in more ways than just a typical doctor patient relationship usually allows. Sara, or Dr. Johnson, was a gem. She made her patients feel like family first, patients second.

And I trusted her care and guidance. I didn't question her use of pre-natal tests. So the blood work was drawn and they would call with the results. As I recall, 9 years ago, the standard test was called the triple screen and looked for early detection of things like neural tube defects or Down Syndrome.

December 9th, 1999, I got the call at work. Mib was calling, Dr. Johnson's nurse. Why is it that the first thing people say when they are delivering less than desirable news is "don't be alarmed" which only serves to instantly alarm you? "Don't be alarmed," she said "but your alpha-fetal-protein test results are low, lower than we'd like to see. We have gone ahead and scheduled you for an ultrasound and an amniocentesis next week."

I could hardly keep my composure. But I was so not going to lose it standing in front of the seclusion room! I just wanted to get home. My mind was reeling with what this all meant. I felt sick to my stomach and sucker-punched. I cycled between thinking it was a fluke, to believing that I should start getting myself prepared for the worst, while realizing I had no idea what the worst could possibly be.  To be continued...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dear Colton's future wife...

When Colton tells you one day that "meatloaf" has chocolate spread over the top of it, could you just go along with him?  Oh, and nod your head when he tells you his mother made it with ham? I've stood on my head so many times trying to get the boys to try various dishes I make for supper.   Colton has always had an aversion to meat.  But I am learning that if you give a dish a creative name,  like "sugar-and-chocolate-covered-no-thats-not-meat-underneath-surprise-loaf," you stand half a chance that they will take a bite.  So what if he only heard the "ham" part of the hamburger.  And I can get by with calling brown sugar and ketchup "chocolate."  Please, future wife, forgive me. 

The little turkey ate 4 pieces and swears its his favorite meal EVER.  It was such a hit, just wait till you see what we're having tomorrow night...  "hey-thats-not-tuna, noodle casserole,  with yep- those-are-green-skittles-inside."  Genius, I tell ya.  I'm thinking I may have to write a cookbook!  

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


MckMama just twittered that Stellan has been extubated and they are slowly waking him up and that she is just about to post.

I have to admit, I thought of becoming a Twit. Or a Tweeter. You know, sign up for Twitter. I saw Oprah do it last week, after Ashton Kutcher's big 1,000,000 plus following caught her attention. But, I'm just reluctant. I'm just not sure I want to have one more thing that I follow and update and read and take in. But I'll refrain from saying anything too critical about something I know so little about. So if and when I do decide to join in, I won't have to eat my words, or tweets, or what have you.

How about you? Do you twitter? If so, care to share with me what exactly I am missing out on?

Prayers for Stellan.

I'm proclaiming today "Stellan day."  As of 10:30 Monday night as I write this he is scheduled for surgery early Tuesday morning.  He is going to have an ablation done to his heart.  And MckMama really explains in great detail the intricacies of this delicate heart procedure.  I would encourage you to click the button on my sidebar for the latest news on Stellan and all of MckMama's explanation.

This scheduling of this surgery could change between now and tomorrow in the morning, but I'll update if that is the case.  Either way I know MckMama would appreciate any positive thoughts or prayers for Stellan today.  


I took this directly from MckMama's twitter feed: 

Stellan is sedated and intubated (he's on the ventilator, which is breathing for him), will be heading into surgery any minute now.  Its 7:21 am Tuesday morning, and she posted this 50 minutes prior.  

Update #2 As of 8:26 am MckMama's post reflects that Stellan is in surgery now and that someone will continue to update her site. The surgery will take about 3 hours.

Update #3 @ 10:50 am: MckMama's twitter feed:

Yes it's been over three hours, no I haven't heard any update at all. 17 minutes ago

Update #4 @ 11:30: MckMama's twitter feed:

A bit of news trickled back to me: there is a lot of fluid in Stellan's lungs and tissues. 2 minutes ago

Update # 5 at 1:16 pm: MckMama's twitter feed:

I'm going to work on a post now about all the details regarding how it went. It was a complicated situation and Dr. A did the best he could. less than a minute ago
They will extubate him a bit later. He needed a blood transfusion earlier and he's still finishing that up. He looks so sweet and peaceful. about a minute ago
Stellan made it through!!! I am with him now in recovery. They are going to leave him under for a while, since the procedure took so long. 3 minutes ago

Monday, April 20, 2009

Caught in-between.

Catch it Colton...


Following in Daddy's baseball-pitcher- footsteps?  Like son...

... like father.

Colton, way to wink!!  

Watching for cars...

Ready for take-off...

... catching some "air."  

I suspect with the promise of warmer weather there may be an abundance of posts like these.  It takes awhile for all things sun-drenched, warm and green to feel like every day news.  I am still enchanted with the chattering birds which are noticeably everywhere these days.  

The boys haven't quite figured out what to wear.  The sun is warmer each day, but the air is still on the cool side.  So Colton still reaches for his winter coat, boots and hat, although I've convinced him mittens are entirely unnecessary.  While Nolan, is quicker to shed winter gear for as little clothing as possible.  It takes some convincing that it isn't truly barefoot weather yet.  It seems we're in between, boots and flip-flops.  Coats and shorts.  Somedays spring, and somedays just crossing our fingers for no April snow.  

I've been so caught up in the shifting weather gears that a fairly major event slipped by somewhat unnoticed.  The unofficial word is that the Red River, "peaked" is the term they are using, last week.  At an unassuming level of 34 feet, it just stopped rising.  Its been fluctuating between 33 and 34 so they haven't really used the word "crest."  And for all the absent fanfare that has come along with this event, one other word getting  tossed about with more frequency is the word,"recovery phase."   So while we haven't supposedly "crested," we aren't offically in "recovery" phase either.  Yeah, a little in-between.

For the most part?   In-between is feeling okay.  Its a bridge to the other side, with the prize of summer waiting as its reward.  I am mostly happy hanging in-between.  With one exception.

Dakota, is very visibly in-between as well.  Eating and not.  Playful and slow.  Ears that perk up with recognition when we come home.  Eyes that stare vacantly when coming out of the all too often deep sleep she is in.  Clearly, sadly, in-between.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sunshiny day


There is beauty in simplicity.  

Today was really simple.  

And beautiful.  

The sun shined.  

An unknown but loud rock singer offered his rendition of "Living on a Prayer," in our driveway.  

The wind blew.  

But piggyback rides were in order anyway.  

The bikes, scooters and toys are still in hibernation in another location.  

But fun and amusement were had by all. 

Some days, when the sun shines, its all there for the taking.  

You don't contemplate anything.  

You just be.  


In the sun.  

And say a quick prayer for those who aren't outside with you.  

There is beauty in simplicity.  Today was really simple.  And beautiful.  The sun shined.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Red River second crest.

I didn't hear officially how warm it was today but I know it was supposed to be 60. The sun felt warm, but the winds always kick up in the spring and they were still a little cool. But we were outside as much as possible today. Dakota was queen of the deck today, it was good to see her enjoying her favorite perch. Even a tired old girl has perked up a bit with the sunshine and fresh air.

I decided to take Kota for a walk down to the dikes to see what the water is doing.  I know its rising again and due to crest this weekend.  I walked across a lot of places that looked like this...  sidewalks and streets alike that just a couple of weeks ago were under water, now with a layer of dirt left behind.

This is behind the house where I first started sandbagging.  The water is rising again, but it looks deceptively calm.  Theres even a duck floating along out there as if it always hangs out in the coulee.  Oh, and any "white" that you see, is sandbags.  I'm happy to report its NOT SNOW!

This is the other side of the road.  This whole area had water running over the road and the dike went across the street.  

The sign on the fence is pretty tattered and weathered.  But the message rings true.

This is the dike to the south of us, down by our park.  You can see the pump gushing water at a pretty good rate.  But there is still lots of room before the water even hits the bottom of those sandbags.

There is just starting to be some increased patrol and watch over these areas.  I couldn't get down to the actual river as workers were starting to haul in pumps and begin setting up again by the area closest to the river.  

But I have to admit I feel better this time.  The national weather service has steadily decreased their prediction for the level of the second crest saying now it should be just less than 38 feet.  And when you've already survived over 40 feet, 38 feet doesn't seem so catastrophic.  Plus we aren't being asked to evacuate.  The Moorhead Mayor however said a 38 foot crest would still be in the top five highest river levels recorded on the books.  So he is cautioning people to be vigilant.  Although most people I talk with have one eye on the water and the other on plans for all those sandbags to dismantle.  

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday

Would it be a surprise if I said Nolan was up at 5 this morning ready to start hunting for eggs?  I didn't think so.  He held off till 6 and I finally acquiesced and got out of bed.  The sun was just coming up and the sky was glowing in hot pink and orange swirls.  I grabbed my camera and threw a coat over my pj's and scampered outside to get the shot.  I stood precariously balanced on one slippered foot, with the other stuck in the side of the clay dike, and squinted adjusting the lens of the camera to get the shot.  I stood there contemplating the pastel-colored sky and jumped when the newspaper delivery guy came around the corner, catching me in all of  my pj and slippers glory.  I scooted back inside the house, and sat down to see what I had captured only to have my card reader tell me my files were corrupt.  Hours later, Rick confirmed, all of the photos on my camera card were lost.

But on this day, this Easter Sunday, I somehow couldn't find it within me to be upset.  I started thinking that while I didn't have the photo of the moment I wanted to capture, I still had the moment, and that can't be changed, or undone or lost.  I was there, all bed-head and sleepy-eyed, but the sunrise was mine for the viewing this morning.  And so I let the computer drift back to sleep and began the day in earnest.  I made cinnamon rolls and got the eggs boiling to be decorated.  Later, the boys even let me sort out all the eggs plastered in Luke Skywalker and Anakin, and let me keep the pretty eggs in the bowl for one of the three photos I did get to keep. 

 Nothing about our Easter Sunday was picture perfect in the first place.  But aren't we always editing out the photos  we don't like?  We don't want to keep the ones of closed eyes and cheesy grins or the unexpected photo that catches you with your mouth hanging open.  So while we had some less than stellar experiences today, they aren't the ones I am going to hang on to.  Instead, I am keeping the images of the boys putting their suits on for Easter, with minimum complaint.  And the eagerness in which they sought out their eggs this morning.  And the wonder on their faces when pastor Dan's plastic eggs at children's moments, contained nails and a rock, and the last one which held nothing. I may have lost a few pictures, but I'll treasure the images in my head that I choose to carry with me instead.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Dump-Truck Lullaby.

Dump-truck lullaby. from Vicky Westra on Vimeo.

(I wrote this part yesterday about the night before.)  

Seriously. All. Night. Long. The trucks rumble-roared past our house. Actually? Past my ears. My bedroom faces the avenue. So don't watch the video for the "amazing" (tongue-in-cheek) footage I took. Thats not really my purpose. Just listen to what we've had going non-stop since before 7 pm last night. Did you notice the fine stacatto of the jackhammer sound of the caterpillar towards the end? To say my head is "pounding" this morning, is very much an understatement. And now because they are in our yard, my house is shaking and the glass is rattling on my shelves in the kitchen.  

Friday, April 10th, 2009

These were the pictures I took yesterday.  The long line of trucks at the dump-truck buffet... all the clay and dirt you could want for the price of one dug up lawn, a cracked sidewalk and a displaced sump-pump hose.  A low price, for flood protection.  With the help of these contingency dikes, we most likely won't be asked to evacuate our homes this time around.  

While I've documented how this event has played out in OUR lives, its played out much differently in the lives of so many others in the area.  People have lost their homes.  Many people have sustained flooded basements.  An inch of any bacteria laden water can wreak as much havoc as a foot of it can.  Anything the water comes in contact with is considered contaminated and best thrown out.  There are lawns covered with water-logged sheet rock, carpeting, and belongings being damaged with water.  

For many others, the water has yet to breach their dikes, but they have been surrounded by it daily, for weeks now.  My neighbor said her sister, while not sustaining any direct damage, has suffered many other mishaps.  The garage door openers for all three of their garage doors were burned out when the electricity went out, as was their furnace.  They have had a ring dike around their home and struggle getting to and from their house on washed out roads.  The mental and emotional toll is putting a strain on many people.  

And yet the flood "relief" has continued to roll into town.  Volunteers continue to show up and roll up their sleeves to help with an arsenal of sandbags in case the dikes begin to fail.  One community put together and delivered candy gift bags for Easter for children affected by the flood.  Several businesses have contributed semi-trucks filled with food for the food pantry. The list of thoughtful and generous offerings goes on and on.  

So in the grand scheme of things?  I consider myself lucky, blessed and extremely grateful.  The water is due to start rising sometime on Easter Sunday with a proposed second crest sometime in the middle to late part of next week.  The question is will we get any more precipitation in the form of rain over the next couple of weeks?  Too much rain could wreak havoc on the saturated system.  So its day by day we wait and wonder.  But its worth mentioning, the sun has been shining almost every day this week.  While temps are still in the mid 30's to 40's,  I for one am filled with the promise of the sunshine.  

I hope you all have a Happy Easter!  What better symbol of  hope can their be than Jesus' victory over death? Easter has always been a "celebration of renewal and rebirth" to me, and the promise of eternal life through his resurrection, granted to all who believe in Him.  

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Flood Preparations: Round 2

It started with a code red phone call last night. While I wasn't overly concerned as the river is still declining, a small part of you thinks, now what? But it was just a reminder that an earthen dike was going to be constructed on the avenue running past our house beginning at 7:00 pm last night. At the end of the call a brief mention was made of closing 40th avenue when the river gets back up to 36 feet. SWALLOW. How the heck would we get out of our subdivision? There are 3 ways out and 2 of those are blocked right now? I had watched a press conference in which they said, "some homes will be sacrificed to save many other homes." Would this be us? Your mind just begins to leap-frog with possibilities when given such limited information. 

I'm guessing I wasn't the only one leaping to conclusions however. Hence call number 2. Clarification. Only part of 40th avenue would be closed, and it wasn't our part.

A little before 7 pm,  I warned the boys about the trucks and then told them if they stayed with me I would walk down and take some pictures with them. It wasn't till we were on our way home that Nolan ran ahead and Colton followed. But Nolan looked, and Colton didn't. As my heart raced into my throat the dump truck driver coming from the cul-de-sac, stomped on his brakes and Colton, oblivious scooted across to safety on the other side. By the time he was home he knew he was in trouble. I did not contain myself, yelling at him. This morning I talked more calmly with him. He layed in bed with me as we talked about listening to mommy and that big trucks can't see little boys.

And then to see if I was getting through to him, I asked, "What do you think would happen if a truck did accidentally hit you?"

He calmly and somberly replied, "I'd be dead."

"Yes," I told him. "And then what?" I asked.

"And then I'd be sad." he said.

"Why would YOU be sad Colton?"

"Because then Nolan would get a Wii Fit."


"You know, like that girl when her sister died. Everyone was sad and they gave her a Wii Fit. And that would be no fair if Nolan got one and I didn't."

Ahhhhhh. Looks like I have some explaining to do.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Life lessons at the pizza place.

Grandma and Grandpa came and took us out for pizza last night. The boys decided on "Happy Joes." I would have been fine going to "Happy" anything after a long day of trying to figure out how to restore my internet. Its intermittent at best right now, but one way to figure out a lot more about your computer set-up is to be on the phone with tech support for a few hours a day. I can now identify and dismantle and re-register my router and modem without flinching. Its funny how our lessons come to us in life. I wouldn't have purposefully signed up for any tech classes to learn this stuff. But I had to be open to at least trying, or sit and wait for a week till Rick got home to fix it. Now what would have been a 5 minute task for Rick, literally took me hours to work through. But I seem to have figured it out, and will feel more comfortable the next time something like this happens.

Nolan got an unexpected lesson last night too. One of the draws of Happy Joe's is the games for the kids. Its like Chuck E Cheese, minus Chuck. Plus, the pizza is pretty good. So its nice having the boys at an age where they can play games and be entertained and the adults can sit and eat and talk. Nolan has become fairly proficient at some of the games and knows how to get maximum tickets out of some of them. But there was another boy who seemed to have a golden parachute. The first time the alarm sounded I had to check for myself. He had gotten the ball to go in the "firehole" for the grand prize of 1000 tickets! It caused quite a commotion. Nolan stood in rapt silence as the machine spit out its treasure amongst the clanging bells and shrill sirens. It was something akin to winning the "free" game of mini-golf by hitting the ball into the mouth of the clown, when I was young. Somehow I was convinced I could win each and every time we played, while still somehow knowing that between the slant of the boards and the size of the hole, I didn't really stand much of a chance.

And yet, here was this boy, winning all the loot and making Nolan's efforts seem grossly inept with the measly 50 or so tickets he would collect. Nolan, having spent the last of his money, sat in awe of this boy's moves that procured him so many prizes. As we were leaving, the commotion started again. The bells were ringing and the sirens were blaring. I hurried in to see the same boy, collecting yet again, another windfall of tickets. The young employee, quickly went to assess the situation and upon seeing the same boy winning the same game, summoned management. Nolan disappeared. I found him all the way outside, standing next to the car, suddenly more than ready to go. I could see it in his downturned face. He knew the boy was in trouble. He caught on to the fact that the boy had been somehow cheating the game. Nolan asked a multitude of questions about what was going to happen to the boy. Grandma and I assured Nolan the consequences would be great. And yet, Nolan didn't seem relieved by my assurances that the boy would be punished.

At bed time last night, he fessed up. He was feeling guilty and conflicted. He seemed to know the boys efforts weren't honest attempts, and yet he couldn't get past wanting what that boy had. And yet, I didn't have to ask Nolan how it might feel to be in the shoes of that boy, I think Nolan took those shoes for a walk. While he struggled with wanting and temptation, admittedly, I am relieved that at least the "shoes" felt uncomfortable to him. They weren't a good fit. His gut was telling him. I told him to trust his gut.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

No internet?

I felt such empathy (and still do) for our Gitzen Girl when her computer bit the dust... and then I was woken up this morning by a little boy's voice telling me at 5 am to come quick and fix the computer. The computer is fine. My internet access is not. While Cableone maintains its a "weather" complication they are working to try and fix, ummm, its a beautiful sunny day. (okay, its 35 degrees, not truly warm and beautiful, but I am trying here) So any bets on what "weather" is code for?

Anyway, my neighbor, Darla took pity on me and I just thought I'd share my less than exciting news. I am sure I will be back in business soon.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Finding Normal.

We took Mayor Walaker's advice.  In a press conference Friday afternoon he said "Go out to eat.  Go to the mall.  Fill up with gas and buy groceries.  Rest.  Relax."  Little did he know we had already started.  Nolan's friend Riley invited him to play Thursday afternoon.  They even got to go out for pizza and Riley's very considerate parents took Colton along with Riley's younger brother Sam.  Decompression began to settle in.  When Rick got a dinner invitation for the very next night, we jumped at that chance too.  And Grandma came and sacrificed herself and her Friday night to bail us out of finding a sitter.  

We spent a delightful evening with former yearbook colleagues and talked about going to the lake, fishing, raising boys, and we reminisced about the past.  Lorrinda and I used to shop together at the annual sales meetings in whatever location the yearbook company picked for the twice-yearly meeting.  Usually we'd go to places in Florida, California or Texas.  Its one of the things we both talked of missing from our former jet-setting selves.  The last sales meeting we attended together I was 6 months pregnant with Colton but we marathon shopped at the outlet stores in beautiful Palm Springs anyway, on a mission to find appropriate fitting shoes for my swollen-larger-than-normal feet.  The search was complicated by trying to match the shoes to my less than glamourous "tent" dress I was wearing for the formal awards dinner.  

I also spent a quiet morning by the pool while in Palm Springs, writing in my pregnancy journal. The water was so blue and inviting. And I wrote about how it wouldn't be long and I could introduce Nolan to swimming in a pool. That my days of sideline watching were going to be put on hold. So I soaked up sun and stillness, and intermixed shopping with slumber and solitude. While reflecting on the changes occurring with folding another child into the mix, I had no idea the deeper changes at work. For what I didn't realize, is this would be the last meeting I would attend. A mere year and 1/2 later after welcoming our second son we would be moving, changing careers and ending a chapter in our lives.

The rest of our weekend has been filled with cleaning out some closets and creating a path-way through our belongings now occupying the main floor.  Rick left yesterday for a trip to Idaho and the boys and I are spending a quiet palm Sunday together.  

If it weren't for the rest of the news contained in the press conference last Friday, I would say we were returning to normal.  The part that I am turning a blind eye to, for now, is the news on the second crest.  With the new snow and still-unthawed ground, the national weather service has calculated a 75% chance of the river reaching a new crest of 41 feet and a 25% chance of reaching a crest of about 43 feet between the middle to later part of April. The first crest was at 40.8.  You see how this isn't the kind of news we hoped to hear.

But I will tell you, there are more disagreements over this prediction.  The Fargo Mayor, for one, disputes these numbers.  He worked hard to assuage the fear quickly rising up through the restored calmness. I choose to believe him for now.  I am taking the weekend off, if not more, from thinking about another wave of flooding.  From the looks of the tranquil streets, I'd say most people are.  But you probably haven't heard the last of it yet...  

When you get lucky

When you get lucky

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