Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Adventure after Adventure

Two experiences surrounding Eliza need to be shared. They both demonstrate the tender mercies of a loving Heavenly Father. I want to express my gratitude for blessing us with positive outcomes in each of these situations. As I type this, I can hear my own voice in my head and it sounds like I'm giving a talk in church. I'm sorry about that! I'm not going to take the time to re-work those sentences so forgive me but I hope my sentiment comes across as genuine.

At the end of the July, a few members from my side of the family joined us for a weekend at Bubba's cabin. A new swing set had arrived since our last visit, my brothers had rented a cool "side by side" for off roading, the weather was dreamy and the company was great. I'd been looking forward to this trip for a long time.

I remember working in the kitchen that first evening and seeing Lottie and Sara on the swing set together. They were laughing so hard. I couldn't help but think how sweet life was in that moment. After putting the kids to bed that first night, the adults lingered around the camp fire and listened as my brother Mike shared funny/disturbing/shocking cop stories. Despite our failure to establish a family sing a long, bummer, we still laughed and joked our way through most of the night.

The following day the kids were eager to resume taking turns on the side by side. We made sure each child had a helmet when they went for a ride. That morning I remember feeling my stomach lurch when I saw Lottie and Sara zoom up the mountain road. They had their hands in the air as if they were on a roller coaster and I could hear their laughter. I hadn't ridden on the side by side yet so maybe my judgement wasn't accurate. Maybe that level of speed was perfectly safe.

Eliza was off on a ride when I pulled Andrew aside and asked if he thought the high speeds were okay. Sometimes I am a ninny and over-worry (okay, most of the time I am a ninny). I trust Andrew's judgement and try my best to relax when he offers reassurance. Sometimes I ask him to back up his thoughts with science just for that added layer of comfort. His response this time was,

"Well, if it's not, that's what seat belts and helmets are for." His answer did not deliver the assurance I was looking for. He had been working on fixing one of the four wheelers. After bringing it back to life, he pulled Forrest up to sit with him and then the two of them ventured out on a test drive. A short while later, he returned with Eliza on the back of the four wheeler. I thought it was odd that she was with him. Before I could come to my own conclusion as to why she was with him he said,

"Your Mother's intuition was right on today. The side by side rolled over." I didn't freak out because I could see Eliza. She looked emotional, but physically she seemed unharmed. We were told that everyone was okay. Callie, my 13 year old niece, was disoriented. Andrew needed some additional man power to go help flip the side by side back over and to pick up the other passengers.

After hearing what happened and seeing the damaged side by side, I realized how serious of an accident it had been. My sister could feel and smell the gasoline dripping onto her as she was suspended upside down. I am aware of an accident similar to this that involved people catching on fire. Having her wits about her, she was able to undo her own buckle. She then went to work to free Eliza and the other riders. She instructed Eliza to run across the road in case a fire was to break out. Poor Callie got the worst of it. Even with her helmet, she ended up with a concussion. She has struggled with memory loss since the accident.

Andrew's Dad was there at the cabin too. Being a doctor, I felt assured after he checked out Eliza further. He shared with me certain signs that would indicate that she needed to go to the hospital. She wasn't presenting any of them. In the days that would follow, the worst injury would be bruising along her stomach where the seat belt had protected her. Ami and Adam took Callie to the hospital where it was confirmed that she had a concussion. The doctors there said that if Eliza had a concussion or something scary looming, we'd be noting obvious signs and symptoms. I felt better about her current state. What deteriorated beyond that was my emotions. The following day, my extended family packed up their things and went home. My family stayed one more day; just the six of us. Andrew was determined to make the most of our time there. We did play some memorable games of Go-Fish and enjoyed time exploring together at the creek. But for whatever reason, I was struggling to be happy. I felt isolated, depressed and wanted to leave. Eliza felt similar. Being there, I felt that I couldn't escape all of the "what if" scenarios. I apologize for being over dramatic. But it was hard for me to get over. I sure hope that next time I go down, I can fall back in love with the cabin experience.

Despite the heavy feelings, I did my best to express gratitude to Heavenly Father for sparing them further injury and harm. It was a reminder to each of us that we are not invincible. Accidents happen to the most careful of individuals and they can have a lasting impact on others. I hope that we proceed to enjoy our time there with extra caution; especially as we off road. Also... we hear there are bears near our cabin property. One was recently killed up the canyon from where we stay. So there's that to worry about too! Yikes!

Aside from the roll over, many wonderful moments and memories happened that same weekend. Here's a few snapshots that capture that.

Callie and Eliza
Photo taken after Callie's return from the hospital.
Check out the headrest on the side by side. 
Those bars were meant to be straight and even.

How's my serious glamour shot?
I took this photo when I was upset and wanting to go home. 

Coming home from that trip, we rushed to Bubba and Nanna's house for family pictures. It was an inconvenient time, Henry's glasses were lost and his eyes were crossing like mad. Since that weekend of having crossed eyes, his vision has improved back to how they were before. His eyes are once again straight, but in every family picture taken that weekend, they were crossed. Oh well! Here are a few behind the scene pics from my phone.

Two days after returning from the cabin, Henry headed off on a grand adventure to Legoland!! Per tradition, eight year old grandchildren are treated to a special vacation with their Bubba, Nanna Teresa and Uncle Mike. Here's a look back at Eliza's adventure to Disneyland with her cousin Syrelle when they turned eight! Lucky for Henry, his cousin Truman is here from New York. These cute boys are only four days apart. Together, they were able to go on this once in a lifetime trip!

I cried when he left for the airport.
I don't do well being separated from my kids; you know,
in case you don't know that about me already.

But then Uncle Mike started sending me pictures like this!

...And I felt so much better. 

The following weekend... the first in August, I think... Andrew took my girls to Richfield for a family reunion. Henry, Forrest and I stayed behind. Henry had a lot of violin practice to make up. I was also busy preparing for a most special guest (MIA!!!). We spent that weekend also preparing for school. Forrest and Henry were good sports to go to so many stores with me. We had a fun day shopping for clothes. Forrest chose Chik-Fil-A for lunch. It was great to spend that time with just my boys.

As for my beautiful daughters, they had a blast in Richfield. Being together as a family of six is always best, but there's definitely something to be said for how good and needed that individualized time can be with your kids. I hope that makes sense.

A while ago, I heard it was National Sister Day... so that meant I was allowed a backyard photo shoot. My girls protested, but clearly they must love me because they did oblige. As I was taking their photos, Lottie said the funniest thing,

"You know Mom... Tomorrow is "National You Can't Take Any Pictures of your Kids Day"... Ha ha ha!
You wish sweet girl!

I was about to conclude my post when I realized I neglected to share my other story about Eliza. Last summer, it was reported to me that while she was at "Activity Day's day camp," she had a scary spell with heat exhaustion. The Mom who looked after her was quite concerned as she explained to me the details of that day. I was very grateful for that Mother and promised myself I'd better hydrate all my children going forward. I was also aware that heat exhaustion can escalate into a scary situation quickly so I remember feeling thankful that she took such good care of her.

This summer I hadn't thought much about heat exhaustion or Eliza's experience with it last summer. However, Eliza would end up having four episodes throughout July and August. The first time it hit her, I didn't recognize what was going on. She had gone on a morning run with my sister in law. She came home and was immediately so sick. She laid in bed for a long time and asked me to just stay with her. I thought it was sweet that she kept telling me how grateful she was that I was staying next to her. Finally, over an hour later, she threw up and felt better. It occurred to me then that she might have had heat exhaustion. I read up on the symptoms and they lined up with hers.

A few nights later, on a hot night at Lagoon, she met up with me after doing some bigger rides with her cousins for dinner. Again, she was so sick. I thought she needed to eat, but that didn't help her at all. We poured water on her head and she sat down for awhile. The heat finally subsided and she perked up again. It was later that night, as I once again reviewed the symptoms for heat exhaustion, that I realized that I needed to take this more seriously.

The next few Lagoon trips, I made sure she kept cool by going on the water rides right away. By staying wet, she kept cool. Her body doesn't sweat so she over heats very easily. I also made her drink and drink  and drink! Well, we went to Lagoon with friends a few weeks after thinking I had figured out how to stay on top of things. I told her she could do a few rides and then meet me in line for rattlesnake rapids. I wanted to get her wet in an attempt to keep on top of any potential problems.

We were less than two minutes away from being seated on the ride when she suddenly became lethargic. I encouraged her by saying that we were nearly on the ride; but soon realized that was irrelevant. She was so incredibly pale. Her lips stood out to me as they were completely white. She was moments away from passing out. I could tell. I took her to the shade, sat her down and began pouring water on her. It was actually a little more complicated than that because I had Forrest with me who couldn't decided if he wanted to stay with Eliza in the shade or come with me to fetch our stroller. He decided to stay with her, but as soon as he lost sight of me, he began SCREAMING. I wanted to use my stroller as a wheelchair for her, but had to wait for Lottie, her two friends and Eliza's friend to get back off the ride. As we wait, I begin to drizzle water on her head. A woman who came off the ride stopped to see if she could help. She pulled a cold bottle of ice water from her purse and insisted that we take it. The waters I had with me weren't that cold. I was so touched when she returned ten minutes later with two large Styrofoam cups of ice water. What a thoughtful, kind lady. I was so touched as she went out of her way to help us; total strangers.

At this point, Eliza still doesn't look okay. A Lagoon worker sees her and calls for help. A first aid worker arrives, puts her in a wheelchair and tell me she needs oxygen. I get a hold of my friends who come and get their kids who had been riding with me. Eliza's friend Claire was a real blessing as she kept Lottie occupied while I went with Eliza to the first aid station. Forrest came with us too.

She was, once again, sick with heat exhaustion and it took her nearly two hours before she felt well enough to go home. The workers at Lagoon who helped her were so kind, attentive and capable. Again, I felt thankful to God that she didn't get more sick. I was also humbled by this experience and left to wonder what I hadn't learned from her prior accidents. What did I need to learn from this?

I took her a few days later to see her Pediatrician. Why was this happening to her? My other kids are in the same hot environment, doing the same things as her and they cope just fine. I wanted to know if she has an underlying condition that makes her susceptible. Her doctor took my concerns and the situation seriously. She gave Eliza a thorough exam and talked a lot with me about prevention. She also told me that I shouldn't cool her down so quickly as she can go into shock. No, Eliza doesn't have an underlying condition. It is possible that she is just one of those people who is susceptible to heat exhaustion and that she will need to be careful her entire life.

Again, it may seem like I am being over dramatic. And that's okay if that's how you perceive these paragraphs. But this summer I have been reminded through Eliza (and another experience with Forrest) how quickly an accident can occur or a problem can escalate. Raising children is difficult. Keeping them safe and well isn't easy; especially when we are combating things outside of our control. I need to keep educating myself when I can and listen to those promptings when something doesn't feel right. I don't know all the answers but there are people around me who can help. I am in awe of those Warrior Mothers who are advocating and fighting for their children on a much serious level around the clock. Wanting to emulate them,  I need to seek for that help, listen to my instinct and become better. I love my kids and hope that I don't let my guard down because they need their Mom looking out for them the way that the Lord has been looking out for us.

In the words of an infamous (?) bachelor contestant, Ashley I., excuse the "emotional vomit"... it's been awhile since I've sat down at my keyboard. :)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Summer Snap Shots

Well, howdy folks!

Long time, no see! Everyone is probably dog gone sick and tired of hearing me complain about how busy we are, so I will spare you that excuse. I'm behind on my blog and it's been nagging at the back of my brain for weeks. I have to settle for less words and focus on sharing the photos most important to me. I'll get back to writing when I get more caught up!

The Old Western photo at the opening of today's post makes me so happy. It's the third one we've had taken with the Blasers. They helped complete our summer with a visit to Utah. Per tradition, we met at Lagoon twice. James (previously known as Talon) and Eliza rode most every ride together. Henry was happy to be spending time with her other boys. As for me, being with Michelle made me so happy. It's like no time had passed at all. We always talk about a return visit to South Carolina. It's been five years! I'd be thrilled if Andrew and I made it happen.

Lagoon has been our gathering place this summer. Sometimes we were there with just our family, other times it was with extended family: cousins, grandparents, etc. We met friends and also enjoyed date night there. We certainly got our money's worth. Here's a slew of photos that represent some of the memories made there.

Lagoon with family:

These cute cousins were asked each visit if they were either sisters or twins. :) 

We loved the visits when Papa and Nana Marie came!

Henry took that giant leap from kiddieland to big kid rides this summer!
He has conquered all of those big coasters: Cannibal included.
He was a nervous wreck, near tears even, as we went up that hill on the fire dragon.
I almost felt bad for him until I saw his terrified expression shift into one of total joy!
It was one of my favorite Lagoon moments of the summer.

Lagoon with neighbor friends

Lagoon with the Blasers

Cherry Hill was another summer favorite.

And finally, some of the best memories were made playing in our own backyard. The kids played for hours in an inflatable pool; with and without cousins. There were plenty of Popsicles enjoyed on the porch, time spent in the sandbox and movie nights on the lawn. Here's a few misc. photos that I love.

Henry started violin in July! 
Wow! What a commitment this is, but so far he is loving it. 
I am a part of each practice and lesson. 
But I realized right away that this would be a good thing as it carves out special one on one time together. 

I was sitting on the floor doing laundry one morning 
and looked up and saw a werewolf watching t.v.
It was so funny to me.

She is a big time tween now. 
Big time.