Wednesday, December 31, 2008

headed downstate tonight

my dad has been admitted to U of M hospital and is in Neuro ICU. Post more later.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Biopsy results...

came in yesterday for my dad. The brain biopsy does not show signs of cancer, TB or various other things. Biopsy does show clear signs of inflammation. They are sending the biopsy sample down to U of M hospital in Ann Arbor for further analysis, and have contacted other specialists throughout and outside of the state. For right now, they are treating as chronic meningitis. They are planning to discharge him today, since my younger sister is with him and he can't be alone. She was planning on staying until Sunday and then heading back to Alabama, so we'll have to figure out what to do next.

Other news that I've been too stressed to post: Miss A turned 5 on Christmas eve (5, how did that happen? She's my baby!) and we've now gotten over 120" of snow, about 40" more than normal for this time of year. For the past 30 days, we have gotten snow every single day - from 1/2" to 8" each day. We've had over 63" so far this month. Roads have been pretty bad, because the road crews can't catch up. Wood is extremely worried about me traveling down to be with my dad - my older son B will be with me on the way down, but I'd have to travel back up alone in some pretty treacherous weather.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Family news...

We've had a troubling holiday this year. My dad (step) had sudden and odd behavioral changes. He lives alone dowstate, and this was noticed via telephone by myself and my 2 younger sisters, as well as his neighbors over a period of several days. He is a very young 62 years old. My uncle, who lives nearby him downstate was contacted and he went to see my dad. I actually live the closest to my dad, at 8.5 hours away. One of my younger sisters is in Mobile, Alabama, and the other is in North Carolina. My older sister is in Tennessee.

He was taken to the emergency room, and has been hospitalized for the past 9 days. At first they suspected meningitis, then encephalitis. Those tests came out negative, however, he has tons of white blood cells in his spinal fluid. His behavior has become increasingly more strange. It is very hard to carry on a conversation with him, as his thoughts ramble and are all over the place and are not always rational. He has hallucinated. The hospital had to assign him a aide to be with him 24 hrs, as he would wander out of his room and get "lost", or have disruptive, hyperactive and bizarre behavior. I can't even begin to describe how hard it is to see him like this - he is completely unrecognizable from how he was only 2 weeks ago - calm, organized, reasonable and the most logical man I probably know.

On Christmas eve, he had a brain biopsy. He called me in the morning prior and told me he was getting out of the hospital. He sounded good, and fairly clear and coherant. I was so hopeful. Later that afternoon, he left a message on my voice mail. It said "spark, this is dad. They are going to do a brain biopsy. Say a prayer and light a candle. Love ya, Dad". He got out of ICU on Christmas day.

The dr's are being quite evasive about what they suspect at this point. What I "think" they suspect is a life altering disease, fatal until just a few years ago, but now treatable to a certain extent - but not to reverse any brain damage that may have already occurred. Pathology apparently doesn't work on Christmas day. We hope to have the results today.

My youngest sister drove up from Mobile with a friend and arrived on Christmas eve, so she is with him now. I'm trying to get back down there again.

A asked me "why does everyone die at the holidays? Grandpa died at Thanksgiving, now Paw Paw at Christmas - I don't want any more holidays." We have not mentioned that he is gravely ill to her, but A is and always has been moderately obsessed with death, illness and dying and she picks up on everything we say.

Praying for some hopeful news today about the biopsy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Frog Princess, 2009

Unfortunately, Disney has never had a black princess. Their latest film to be released in 2009 features Tiara, a 19 year old princess. Check out the trailer:

A is enamoured with everything princess, Disney or not. She will very much enjoy this next Christmas when it releases.

storm continued...

We are still having quite intense weather. Temp is -10, with windchills putting it at -28 this morning. Wood did get stranded at the bridge yesterday and didnt make it home. They are hoping to be allowed to the cross the bridge this morning. There are hundreds of trucks waiting to get across. The Mackinac bridge, which connects the Upper Peninsula to the lower peninsula, is a 5 mile long suspension bridge.

I'm not fond of crossing the bridge even during perfect conditions. It's 2 lanes in each direction, without a barrier separating you from traffic going the other direction. It has a VERY short guardrail on the outside of each side of the bridge, that a car could potentially go over during an incident. There is NO shoulder at all, so if you are riding in the outside lane, it's just the short guardrail separating you from going off the side. In 1989, a car was blown off the bridge during high winds. It was a Yugo, but still. In 1997, a Ford Bronco went off the side, but that may have been intentional. However, it would be a lot safer if it didn't have freakishly low siderails, making it very easy to go off the side. I actually PREFER driving in the outside lane, however. The inner lane is made mostly of metal grating, for water drainage. It pulls the car terribly from side to side when driving over it, and you can look down and see the water down below through the grates. Lovely.

I guess the girls and I will stay home and coccoon today. Did I mention that my front door is solidly frozen shut??? However, I have a million things to do today - this will be my last day off until Christmas day. I'm totally exhausted and I still have another week to go. This last weekend was brutal, and I was at work Friday and Sat for 14 hrs each day. I did get a break on Sunday and only needed to be in for about 4 hrs. Tomorrow I need to take cupcakes into A's school for her birthday treat. Today was supposed to be G's school concert. I just need more hours in each day.

Our son B (age 20) is supposed to be headed home today or tomorrow from downstate, depending on his friend who is driving him home. He couldn't make it home for Thanksgiving, so we are all very excited to see him. I'm praying for safe journey's home for both him and Wood. Travel through the UP is hard this time of year. No cell signals in many areas, no signs of civilization for a great part of the trip.

Monday, December 15, 2008

bad weather...

we had a slight, above freezing warm up yesterday, and freezing rain/sleet last night that is now sheer ice on the roads. Today we have gusting winds of 20-30MPH resulting in -10 to -25 wind chills. Blowing snow is causing very poor visibility. Schools are closed (rare for us - we almost never close due to snow up here, but extreme ice conditions will do it).

Wood left at 4:30am to head downstate for a work related trip. I worry about him going across the Mackinac Bridge to the lower peninsula with the high winds. The bridge is closed to high profile trucks, so that may impact if he might get stuck there (he and one of his employees headed down to pick up a new fuel delivery vehicle.)

School is closed but the girls prior preschool is open in daycare capacity only, so I'll drop the girls off. No choice except for me to go into work today as most of my associates will not make it in to work today as many live well outside the city where conditions are even worse.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Views from the north.....

Our new dog, Cooper, with Ozzie.

Cooper wonders why the bear is laying in the snow!

A always has to "taste" the snow

We have a rather steep incline in our backyard. The girls like to sled down the hill, however, there is a 6' wooden fence at the bottom....

Snow angels!

Lounging at the patio set ....Why wait 'till summer?

The fleece hats are the best ones we have had. The cold air can sometimes trigger G's asthma, and keeping her mouth covered keeps her breathing warm, moist air. They are easy for the girls to use, and keep almost all exposed skin covered, even on the school playground when I'm not around to help. If they get hot, they can push the hat down, and it becomes just a "scarf" around their neck, and not result in a "lost" hat. Both girls can get completely outfitted in snowpants, boots, coats (including zipped), hats, mittens, in about 4 minutes flat - all by themselves.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


That's A's pronunciation of "actually". I love it when she says it - it always makes me smile. I will miss some of her speech when it becomes more "standard"

"dues" for does
"ack-i-lee" for actually
"dues goes" for went
"one hoofen sleigh" for one horse open sleigh (Jingle Bells)

I'll post more as they come to me :)

What's new with us? It's tuesday, so I'm off work and pick up the girls right after school. Since I'm working Sat and Sun through the holidays, Tuesday is the new weekend. It's my day to sometimes do A's hair, cook a big family dinner and clean the house. Today I'll have the girls help me roast a chicken with all the fixings. G hates chicken in all forms EXCEPT a whole, roasted chicken. Don't ask me why.

I finally picked up another battery charger for my camera batteries, so I'll post some new pics soon. A's birthday is Christmas eve. We got her ears pierced on Sunday - that is what she wanted for her birthday. That girl is so attracted to bling and makeup. She's never met a lip gloss she didn't love. I wear simple earrings and a plain gold wedding band - nothing else. I put on minimal makeup a few times a month. Big sister M and G are very much the same. A, is entirely different. She is a tomboy in her actions, physicality and strength. But she'll climb that wall wearing bracelets, necklaces and lip gloss. If she doesn't have a bracelet, she'll make one. I think she actually NEEDS it. She'll take a cheap plastic bracelet over a toy, hands down. Her eyes light up when she sees makeup, or a model wearing a fancy dress in an advertisement. She has lip gloss emergencies (chapstick type lip gloss is what she is allowed to wear). It's so foreign to me.

I didn't have children to have "mini-me's". But if I am honest with myself, I'll admit there is a certain comfort level with having children that share similar interests, habits and mannerisms. A pushes us to ensure that we leave our comfort zone (and our cozy couch and a good book!) to also follow her interests, which can be intense (playing outside in sub zero weather, rock climbing, dancing and swimming, to name a few). Not that I ever will embrace a 5 year old wearing makeup, but I struggle to understand the attraction and pull she has towards the glamourous. Her idea of a perfect situation would be to climbing on the monkey bars while wearing a bright and shiny dressy dress, complete with makeup and accessories :)

PS, when I finally did A's hair, it took me over three hours to get the tiny braids out. Note to self - no more small braids!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

kids, adoption and faith

The girls attend Mass weekly at their school. Wood or I usually try to adjust our schedules to attend with them. This past week, I sat with A's class. The priest doing mass was one that is very young and who connects very well with the kids, involves them and makes things understandable for them.

For his Homily, he talked to the kids trusting God. He used the analogy along the lines of "you know how you know that your mom and dad will be there for you every single day when you get home from school? You know that they will take care of you, no matter what? How they took care of you when you were a baby? Fed you, clothed you, were there for you every single day? That is the kind of trust you can put in God." He made this point several times, in several different ways, relating the care of a parent to the constant care and love of your mom and dad.

A has the faith of someone 4x's her age. Her connection with, and absolute trust in God is awe inspiring. It has been this way since we knew her. She has intense focus on the suffering of Christ, and relates to this in a way I've not seen any child do. Of course, she has gone through more in her short life than most adults. Her faith was established and very real to her when she came home.

Her approach God in prayer has taught me much-she is a child who speaks to a loving parent. She offers to God her joys, hurts, wonderment, confusion, disappointment and all that she has experienced. She has always had absolute certainty that God isand has been with her always.

The correlation made in church between parents and God upset her greatly. She said that there are times when a mom and dad can't take care of you forever - that they just can't be there for you even if they want to. So this brought into question for her that God could possibly be the same way, and she wants to know when God might not be there for you too. This has been her one constant, the one thing that she has always known that she could rely on with absolute certainty. She had tears rolling down her face and she wanted me to take her home, instead of returning to school.

She continues to be very upset about this- it has shaken her in a way I've not seen before. And I'm at a loss to "fix" this in a way that is clear and understandable to her.

As a child, my parent was definitely NOT of the type Fr. Tim was speaking of, so I can see/feel the inherent flaws in his analogy. One of the great fears many of us have that of orphanhood, that those we love will abandon or neglect us. My daughter has taken this situation in her life and believed with all her heart and soul that God has never and would/could never do the same. Jesus, in the Gospels, assures us that we are forever beloved children in God’s eyes - a message that has been received in a very heartfelt way by A.

How to restore the message for her that God is the good parent who yearns to lavish perfect parental love on us?

Luke 13:34“How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.”

Matthew 6:8“Your Father knows what you need before you ask.”

Matthew 23:9“Call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father -- the one in heaven.”