Category Archives: Bob

Clear

Clear.  Clear!  The MRI was clear!!

Brain…clear.  Spine…clear.  And the areas of fluid they’ve been watching?  …smaller!

Chase’s doctor said that the images were perfect and exactly what they’d hoped for.

It’s official.  Chase has finished his chemo therapy with no signs of cancer.

How I wish his scans would stay like this forever!  They may, and they may not… but either way, they are clear right now and in that we have so much joy.

Last night, I wrote about a second day of testing.  This has now been moved to next week due to some scheduling issues and the post-procedure counsel of the ENT.

We’d so appreciate continued prayer for Chase, especially tonight as it’s been a long day and the anesthesia was rough.  He’s having significant ear pain – a common side effect of the procedure – which has him screaming at anything pitched over a whisper in the house right now.  We have been told that it will pass in the next 24 hours and we pray that’s true.

Thank you for coming on this amazing journey with us.  God is good.

Moment by moment.

Chase resting at home tonight

Chase resting at home tonight

I couldn't resist adding this picture as well.  It takes a pretty amazing dad to escort his child into the OR *and* rock the outfit while doing it. :)

I couldn’t resist adding this picture as well. It takes a pretty amazing dad to escort his child into the OR *and* rock the outfit while doing it. :)

 

Sir Chase and Lord Stanley

During Chase’s chemo stay this week, the Stanley Cup visited the hospital!

Two years ago, Coach Quenneville brought the Cup to the old hospital and vowed that he would bring it back again, and on Tuesday, he did just that.

It was an honor to be part of such a special promise-keeping as the coach and other significant members of the Blackhawks’ organization poured 219 small pieces of paper, for the 219 children staying in the hospital that day, into the Cup to make the kids part of the win.

We were allowed to have a picture with the Cup, but after a long night of chemo, Chase lay exhausted in his stroller.  Undaunted by the surgery scar, the white skin or the IVs protruding from his tiny body, Coach Q hoisted the cup and brought it down to Chase, all the while, talking kindly and softly to him and encouraging him that it was okay to touch the trophy.  Chase doesn’t always respond well to strangers and especially not in a crowd (and this crowd had a lot of flashing cameras too), but he responded to the Coach and touched the Cup…and then, even though he didn’t take his thumb out of his mouth, he gave a big smile.

[We later learned that Chase thought he had been going to view the “Piston Cup” from the Cars movie…which also explains some of his initial hesitation.]

As we thanked the Coach and moved to make room for the next family, he stopped us and asked how Chase was doing in his fight against cancer.  He absolutely didn’t have to do that, and yet, he took the time.  In that moment, we  caught a glimpse of the humble leader.  No wonder these guys brought the Cup home again.

Thank you, Chicago Blackhawks!

MbM

[for more pictures of Chase and the Stanley Cup’s visit to the hospital, please visit Chase Away Cancer, Chicago Blackhawks, or Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago on Facebook]

Sir Chase meets Lord Stanley and Coach Q

Sir Chase meets Lord Stanley and Coach Q

Catching Up On Perspective

As I break my non-blogging streak and think about the last several weeks, I find myself reflecting on perspective.  I will get to that in a minute…

On March 25, Chase had his ear surgery.  We don’t yet know how successful it was (he will have a follow-up hearing test at the end of May), but as we sat in post-op, he turned to me and said “Mom! I can hear!”  I cried.  His expressing this was all the more amazing because we had prepared him for putting tubes in his ears, but we didn’t set him up for any results.

That moment in post-op

That moment in post-op

PoisonWe finished four days of chemo on Thursday of that same week and just as we were so close to discharge that we could practically taste it (if hospital discharge orders were something you could eat), Chase spiked a fever and we had to stay for several more hours until the staff could better understand the cause of the fever.  Such are the hazards of having a central line.  We were finally discharged late that evening.  Chemo

Because we had spent those extra hours getting blood cultures and antibiotics started, when Chase spiked another fever around 3:00AM on Friday morning, it resulted in a simple phone conversation with the (incredibly gracious) oncologist on-call and not a summons to the emergency room.

That Saturday (the day before Easter), Chase again spiked a fever and by this time, his Thursday cultures needed to be redone and so we were sent to a local emergency room for blood work and more antibiotics.  A small part of me wondered why he never seems to get fevers in the middle of the morning.

Chase was mercifully discharged from the local ER around 12:30AM and we all got some sleep and were fever-free enough to go to church together on Easter Sunday morning.  One word: glorious…and refreshing…and encouraging (Okay, more than one word…because it really was that precious).

Happy Easter

Happy Easter

As we drove home from church, I glanced at my phone’s call log and saw the (way too) familiar area code…I had just missed a call from the hospital.  “There was a bacteria found in the culture from last night.  It’s in both lines and it’s growing fast.  I’m not saying you have to drop everything in this moment, but we need you to get Chase here sooner than later…and make sure to pack…you’ll be here overnight.”  …and just that quickly, the holiday was over.  We’d managed to stay out of a hospital for a whole twelve hours.  As we pulled out of our driveway minutes later -still in our Easter finery with our hastily packed bags- and we waved goodbye, I felt a weight descend…it shouldn’t be like this.

In the ER on Easter

In the ER on Easter

Chase cleared his infection (the origin of which was never completely known) and we were discharged within a couple days as he had no more fevers.  In fact, he was the only one in our family who stayed healthy as all the other kids went down with a high fever virus that lasted for several days.

During the same period, Chase’s counts dropped from the chemo and we were back in the day hospital for transfusions.  Chase was in isolation, but did have the privilege of meeting Chicago Blackhawks captain, Jonathan Toews.  Chase tried to offer him a basketball.  To Toews’ credit, the professional hockey player was very gracious.  That same day, the son of a dear friend was in surgery at the hospital.  Putting aside a long story for another blog full of interventions and orchestrations; if we hadn’t been there for transfusions, we would have missed a great moment to serve and encourage our friends.

Meeting Jonathan Toews. Note the basketball in hand. :) [photo courtesy of the Chicago Blackhawks Facebook page]

Meeting Jonathan Toews. Note the basketball in hand. :) [photo courtesy of the Chicago Blackhawks Facebook page]

Transfusions complete, we waited for days…just waiting for Chase to get hit with the virus that all the other kids had.  Then, we got a call from his nurse saying that they were all surprised to find out that he’d recovered from the chemo much sooner than expected and he didn’t need any more transfusions.  Translated: we could stay home and rest.  The worst of the cycle was over.

We rested all week and then returned this past Tuesday for the big, under-anesthesia, check-the-whole-brain-and-spine MRI.  After three months, was the cancer still staying at bay?  Would there be a recurrence seen in the pictures?  No.  We have yet to discuss the scans in detail (we will see the pictures on Monday in clinic), but the bottom line was this: things look good.  Chase’s attending neuro-oncologist said that this is what is hoped for and desired.  Another clear scan.

…and to this day, Chase still hasn’t gotten sick.  The doctors believe that the antibiotic he was on for his line infection protected him from all the germs in our house.

So, if we hadn’t had the fever before we left the hospital, we wouldn’t have been able to stay home on Friday, and if we hadn’t gone in on Saturday night, we wouldn’t have been able to be in church on Sunday morning, and if Chase hadn’t had the line infection (which caused us to miss part of our Easter holiday) at all, he would never have been protected from the flu and pneumonia in the house.  …and if he hadn’t needed transfusions, we never would have been  there for our friends and been able to connect with some really cool Blackhawk fans.  Some correlations are more obvious than others and for some things (like the scan) there is little correlation at all; just joy.  But for the rest: perspective.  This season continually reveals to me that what seems sad and wrong often leads to visible grace and beauty.

As I look back on these weeks, how will I choose to remember them?

“All around

hope is springing up from this old ground

Out of chaos life is being found in You.

You make beautiful things.”  -Gungor

Moment by moment.

An Average Clinic Day

Today, I’m really excited to share with you what our average clinic day looks like!  (yes, it’s picture sharing day here on EFAMILY…)

When we first get to the hospital, we report to the Hematology/Oncology floor for check-in and vitals.

Chase taking his chances with the germs while waiting in the Hem/Onc play area

After this, Chase goes to a clinic room where they draw the labs and he meets with his Oncology team for a dialogue session and a chemo “push” (a short chemo that can be given in a matter of minutes as opposed to his infusions which are given IV over hours/days).  I have no pictures from our time in the clinic room this week, but I can tell you that despite six adults (four of whom were medical staff and two of whom were supposedly responsible parents) in direct intervention capacity, Chase did try and climb off the clinic table by himself and did fall backwards…you know…directly on his back…the area where he was about to get his spinal tap.  [picture me with my head in my hands at this point]  He was 100% fine.  I think he just wanted to give his Onc team a small taste of “Life with Chase”.  [head in my hands again]

From clinic, we procede to surgery for his spinal tap.  They classify the tap as a surgical procedure because he has to be sedated.  Apparently, a 2 1/2 year old boy can’t always lay perfectly still with a large needle in his back for a long time…who knew? [sarcasm implicit]

In pre-op, taking his own temperature

In preparation for his procedure, Chase is given a small sedation to make seperating from us easier (as we can’t go back with him).  This week, as the drug hit his system, he just wanted to “beep” my nose until they wheeled him out.  “Mellow Chase” is fun.  A sedated procedure is what we call his “Nap With the Doctor“, and as he’s wheeled out for his “Nap“, we always tell him that we love him and we’ll see him when he wakes up.  He often tells me to take a nap too (which usually makes me laugh and cry).

Bob on a conference call in the surgical waiting room

When Chase is in his procedure, we go to the waiting room, which reminds me to highlight the above picture.  My incredible husband has worked diligently with his company to allow him to work from the hospital so that he can always be present with us.  This can be hilariously confusing to medical staff meeting with us for the first time — I had an oncologist turn to me during a conference this week and say “But, we didn’t record the session. What session are you talking about?”  One of those moments when I needed to explain that my husband was speaking to someone in Tempe, Arizona and not to the doctor.  Communication hilarity aside, Bob’s professional sacrifice for us is amazing and I wanted to highlight that here.  What a guy.

After Chase’s procedure, he’s taken to post-op and recovery to be monitored for a while.  During his “Nap With the Doctor“, he usually receives chemo in his spine and has maintenance things done -like changing his dressings- that are much easier to do when your patient isn’t going ninja on you. (a hypothetical scenario, of course…)

Chase, attached to all his monitors, sleeping off his anesthesia in recovery (with Bob -still on a conference call- in the background)

Chase -about 30 minutes later- in a different stage of post-op recovery (different room; same hard-working Dad)

FYI:  That chair Bob is sitting in (in this last picture) is really comfortable and Bob always beats me to it.  He beats me to it so regularly that the one week he didn’t come back to post-op recovery with me, Chase woke up and lectured me about not sitting in “Daddy’s chair”.  [thinking about hanging my head in my hands again]

After Chase is recovered enough to be cleared (awake, talking, swallowing, etc), we are discharged!  …and if we’re really lucky, it’s before rush hour traffic!

And then, all that is left is the ride home …

Chase and his vomit bucket resting after a long clinic day

And that’s an average clinic day for us…

Moment by moment.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.  Proverbs 16:9

 

 **A note: In all of these pictures, there is a prominent bruise on Chase’s forehead.  Don’t worry, that’s not from falling off the exam table.  That is what happens when Chase’s platelets are low.  He bumps or even taps against something and his body -in it’s compromised state- cannot bruise or clot properly.  For the record, his head looks much better after his second platelet transfusion on Friday.**

Five Years

Five years later…

My Dearest Husband,
As we pledged our lives to one another, we never could have known what was ahead. I know that these first five years are only a small dip into the well of blessing that the Lord has for us. As I write, I am reminded of the words we sang that day:

“Thine own great presence to cheer and to guide; strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.”

In joyful anticipation of growing closer every year…

Love,
Your Wife

20121013-055114.jpg

A Place for Karsten

Lake Geneva, December, 2009

I looked up from my book; “Bob, this says that it’s dedicated to his son, Karsten.  Isn’t that a cool name?  Hey, if we ever have another child and it’s a boy, could we talk about that name?” 

Bob looked at me, and then 2 week old Chase sleeping next to me; an incredulous look on his face …“Sure … uh-huh … uh, we haven’t slept in like, a year and a half … and you’re talking about another?!”

“I know, I know … I’m just saying … it’s a cool name.”

Inspiration and creativity carried my train of thought a step further …

“Hey, Bob …”

[a deep sigh from across the room]

“What?”

“You know what?  We should use your grandfathers’ names too … Karsten Robert Charles … doesn’t that sound amazing?”

“Sure, Love … whatever you say.”

 

I am not a good pregnant person.  I like to be in control and being pregnant means being totally out of control for me.  After being pregnant twice in two years, it had only gotten worse.  After Chase, I fearfully and desperately wanted to be done.   But still, I couldn’t shake our Lake Geneva “conversation” from my mind.  I loved the name “Karsten”, and though I tried, I couldn’t get the idea of another little boy in our family by that name out of my head.  I just couldn’t figure out where to put those feelings or how to deal with them.  We had always talked about four children, but knew that any addition after Chase would be several years away.  … yet, I couldn’t shake it … this place in my heart for a Karsten. 

Lord, what are you preparing me for?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Out on some errands with Bob and the kids, we decided after a week of wondering that we couldn’t wait any longer and so I ran into the nearest drugstore, and then the Starbuck’s next to it.  Who takes a pregnancy test in a Starbuck’s?  Someday; I thought, I’ll think back on this moment and laugh

A few minutes later, I was back with Bob.  Not wanting to share with the children yet, he looked at me, and I nodded back:  Positive.

Winter 2011

I lay in bed too sick and weak to move.  My fever was high; too high for someone with a nine week old fetus.  I no longer wondered why they make a vaccine for influenza.  Then the bleeding started.  Was I really just coming to accept another pregnancy only to have it end?

Lord, help me walk whatever road you have for me …

In the Office, Two Weeks Later …

The doctor looked up from the ultrasound machine, a smile on his face; “There’s a nice, strong heartbeat.”  My baby was alive.

October, 2011

Being weak is humbling.  I don’t like being humble almost as much (if not more) than I don’t like being pregnant.  Yes, I’d made it through the year to a full-term pregnancy, but I was weak.  Always tired, anemic and unable to lift anything of significance due to a bad back, I chafed … I want to be strong, Lord, and instead, I have to depend on others to do my work for me or deal with it not being done at all!   The only way out is through.

Lord, teach me and  prepare me …

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

It’s been almost 48 hrs already.  So tired, I’d gone to the hospital to be checked on Saturday afternoon when my contractions were 5-7 minutes apart, and then everything stalled so I was sent home.  …and then again, after waiting several hours through Saturday night and into Sunday morning, labor stalled and again, I was sent home.  I don’t think I’d slept since sometime on Friday, and more than my bodily exhaustion, I was emotionally exhausted.  I was weary from the condescension of the nurses … the “Is this your first baby?” question … the continual and even painful contractions … the thought of something being wrong for all of this going so long and not progressing … and the thought that actual labor (the hard part!) was still ahead. 

That afternoon, I called a friend and as she prayed for me over the phone, I sobbed.  Lord, prepare me for whatever you have for me … I’m so tired, Lord.

I sat on my bed with my copy of “Calm My Anxious Heart”.  If ever I needed reminders of comfort and peace, it was now.  Reading hungrily, the Lord helped me to focus and re-impressed lessons and verses on my heart …in particular, this passage:

I know of no greater simplifier for all of life.  Whatever happens is assigned.  Does the intellect balk at that?  Can we say that there are things that happen to us that do not belong in our lovingly assigned “portion” (“This belongs to it, that does not”)?  Are some things, then, out of the control of the Almighty?  Every assignment is measured and controlled for my eternal good.  As I accept the given portion other options are canceled.  Decisions become much easier, directions clearer, and hence my heart becomes inexpressibly quieter.  A quiet heart is content with what God gives.”

[Elizabeth Elliot on Psalm 16:5]

 

9:00 PM:  “Bob, I think I want to go again.  I don’t know what I’ll do if they discharge me again, but I need to go.  Hey, if they discharge me, can you just deliver the baby at home?  I can’t handle it anymore.”  We laughed at the thought of him delivering the baby.  It felt good. 

Later: The nurse removed her gloves, “Oh Honey, you’re at a 5 or 6 …let’s get you into a room.  You’re going to have this baby tonight.”  Such relief.

Sometime after 10:00 PM:  …waiting on the anesthesiologist, we prayed.  Lord, prepare our hearts for whatever lies ahead.

11:30 PM:  It’s funny how hours feel like minutes at times.  The doctor was there and speaking to me: “Let’s get set up here and in just a few minutes, you won’t be pregnant anymore.”

Peace.  I feel such peace.  You fully supply all my needs.  You restore my weary soul again and again and lead me in your righteousness and peace.  You are my shepherd.  I shall not want.  I will dwell in your house all the days of my life.

12:04 AM, Monday, October 10th:  My arms reached for the warm and moist towel holding the bluish infant.  “Here he is!  He’s beautiful!”  Voices were talking around me.  The nurses arms reached out and began massaging and drying arms and legs as his mouth opened; letting out a first, strong wail.  The breath of life began to spread and he was turning pink as I heard myself repeating “It’s okay, darling, it’s okay.  Mama’s here.” 

Our Portion.  Our Karsten

Lord, prepare us for whatever lies ahead …

 

Another Condo Life Challenge

One of the greatest challenges facing us this year is adding a fourth child without adding any additional housing or storage space.  They should really make reality shows about this kind of stuff.  Actually, they probably do and I’m just blissfully unaware of it. 

By the way, in case you hadn’t guessed it yet, this is another post on our condo life.  Remember the “1100 square feet and counting…” thing?   

After wracking my brains for how to increase storage space without decreasing square footage … with a plan that did not use any of the following: 1) dynamite, 2) excavation, or 3) possibly more dynamite … I came up with something that I pitched to the “Head of the House” (he’s the head, I’m the neck … or at the moment, the double chin) as a viable solution.  In other, related news … thank God for IKEA. 

Step One (no, this is not a song by The Fray): we did a complete and  introspective soul-search (“Are we really ever going to read that book to the kids again?  Do they ever play with that toy?”) and with the heightened sense of self-awareness did a thorough clean-out for our donation center of choice.  I, for one, feel much better about myself now. 

This picture (taken during the clean out phase) shows the damaged toy/book shelf and the super-damaged college dorm-style blocks I’d been using for Chase’s clothes.  Parenting note: never use dorm-style blocks.  Your kids will try and pull them apart despite the severe warnings to the contrary that you repeatedly give, and then, if the blocks restack and stand at all, it will be at an annoyingly drunken angle due to bent plastic pieces.  Hypothetically speaking, that is.

Step Two:  Next we picked the storage unit.  (again, see: Thank God for IKEA)  While the bedrooms here are larger than many, we absolutely can’t fit four (or even three!) dressers in them.  And, even if we could fit that number of dressers, we currently use the bedroom as book and toy storage space, so we would lose that entirely.  Enter the awesome shelving unit …

 [Seen here still in the boxes.  Please feel free to note all the lovely piles on the top bunk and well, pretty much everywhere else in the picture. ]  The two units will take the place of the damaged book/toy shelf, the disorderly (and leaning) dorm blocks, and a gorgeous vintage roll-top dresser that I am loathe to part with.  Luckily, it isn’t going very far … just across town to my parents house.  And luckily, due to a slight project error (It takes how long to do how much?) and my husband’s work schedule, I haven’t had to part with it at all yet as it’s still in my living room.

Classy, huh?  There’s a small part of me that feels like there should be a red-neck “dresser in the living room” joke somewhere.  Don’t know why, but I do feel that there should.

Step Three: We repaired the damaged shelf from the bedroom and put it in place of this lovely pairing in the living room.  Finally!  A place to put paperwork, school books, and craft supplies … other than the dining room table.  Again, hypothetically speaking, of course … my dining room table is always … eh, forget it … I can’t even type the sentence with a straight face. 

Before:  The Louis chair grouping. .. This is my husband’s throne chair.  True story.  Sorry about the dark and blurry quality.  I do that on purpose so you can’t see how dusty my house is.  If it weren’t blurry, you’d see a cardboard box under the chair that (up until this project) housed all the craft supplies.  Yes, we’re so childproof and no, I did not spend half of any at home day trying to keep Chase out of the finger paint.  Not.  (is it too soon to bring “not” back?)

After Ah, blissful organization!  As my father would always say: “A place for everything, and everything in it’s place”. 

Step Four:  The assembly of bedroom storage units.  (see also: My Husband is Awesome)  The goal is clothes on the top and toys/books on the bottom.  We’re still breaking in the sliding boxes in only a few places …not sure if we like them completely, but you still get the idea …

If you’re visualizing the “before”, this is the exact wall featured in the shelving disaster with piles and dorm blocks picture I posted higher up.  (and by the way, all those green fabric boxes on top of the shelf are where I keep all my cloth diapering items)

And this, is where my beautiful dresser (which, just as a reminder, is still in my living room) used to be. 

Epilogue: We increased actual space in the living room with the installation of the previously damaged/now repaired shelf and we close to doubled the space in the bedroom for clothes, toys and books.   Oh, and for the curious/non-Ewoldt house-visiting among you, the sleeping situation will read one bunk bed, one standard size crib, and one super tricked-out pac ‘n’ play (tricked-out = it has a mattress and is set up like a mini crib).

So this, my friends, is how we plan to put four children in one room and survive.  You know … until the housing market gets more encouraging or Chase goes to college … whichever comes first.  Haha …

Any tips, tricks or suggestions?  Please feel free to pass them along!  I’m always in search of how to do this condo life even better and more efficiently.

Weekend in The ‘Wauk

My wonderful husband and I celebrate our anniversary in the Fall and due to school starting and babies, and school starting and babies (it feels like a lot more than it actually is; trust me), we took a weekend away a little earlier this year. 

Why do we take time away even in this crazy season of life?  Because a couple we greatly love and respect told us to.  When we were first married, they counseled us to make a habit of and fight for going away regularly to be just the two of us … and to start early lest we turn around having passed 10 years with nothing more than a “Hey, we should really get away some time.”  We never go anywhere exotic or super exciting, but it’s us … and it’s rest … and it’s no kids. 

Speaking of kids; my parents (despite what I may otherwise intimate at times) are heros!  Heroes … and the keepers of our sanity.  …wow, never thought I’d say that about the ‘rents.   My 15 year old self would be greatly surprised.

Anyway, this time we escaped to …[drum roll please] … Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Will somebody please explain to me why I feel the need to apologize for Milwaukee?  Somehow it’s synonomous with something uncool in my head … which is not at all the real-life case.  Maybe it’s the name?  Or the association with cheese and brats?  At any rate, The ‘Wauk (as I prefer to call it at this moment) is the town that surprises you, and they have a great Third Ward (see Chicago’s North Side for reference) even if you do want to choke on all the Packers’ references and collectibles that are EVERYWHERESidenote:  I think every other street is named “Green Bay Something or Other” or named for an NFL player or coach.  We were also subjected to a documentary on the making of the cheesehead hat (and how there is apparently one in the Smithsonian now).  It’s everywhere, it’s crazy … I don’t get it.  But then again, the last time my NFL team of choice won the Super Bowl was 1985.  Ahem, moving on …

Some random things about our time away:

  • Small irony of our hotel … last year, there was a conference / job fair for the rehabilitation of convicts.  This year, there were dual conferences for women in law enforcement and an academy of forensics.  Ah, irony.  It’s the little things that tickle my fancy.
  • Also, go here:

Here = Alterra on the Lake.  A beautifully refurbished old building right off the Lake that sells a Starbuck’s-kicking coffee.   This was also right across the street from the central stage beach for the city’s annual Air and Water show on Saturday.  Nothing like a relaxing latte over the scream and afterburn of an F-16 fighter jet right out your window.  …really opens the mind to reflection and meditation, I’m sure.  

 

 

 

  • Also, here:

Here = a place called Amy’s Gourmet Chocolates in Cedarburg (just north of Milwaukee … a please that will make you think the 1950s still exist somewhere).  Their apples will make you call your Mama.  I actually have no idea what that should even mean, but they’re good.  So good that Bob and I don’t share. 

  • The East Side of The ‘Wauk is as close to the West Coast as I’ll be this summer.  There was an open air market outside a great organic restaurant where you could buy soaps, hand-made jewelry, books and vintage fabrics while a guy with a guitar sang about how you can’t get from Milwaukee to Madison by train (a political protest song regarding the Republican governor’s recent decision to table a city-to-city rail plan).  And every once in a while, vendors and patrons alike would look up at the sound of the planes from the air show on the beach and cringe at the thought of war machines.  
  • In addition to all the relaxing we did, we both had a chance to work on some blog ideas.  True story:

This is how we roll.  Classy, huh?  Bob was perfectly comfortable with his technocological self.  His wife (no names mentioned to protect the paranoid) spent much of our tech time worrying that the other patrons of the coffee house would think we were taking over the world with all the computers lying around.  Apparently I think we look more like super spies than super nerds.

All the shanigans aside, being just the two of us for the weekend was wonderful.  So, whether it’s establishing a regular date night, or an annual getaway, I cannot encourage you enough to try this out.

Have a cool marriage renewing vacation tradition?  Please share!

A Wednesday in December

Wednesday: the first week in December, 2006

I walked out the door to the babysitters with a heavy heart.  I could still hear Darcy screaming inside, but there was nothing else I could do.  Not quite 8:00 AM; it had been an insane morning already!  My mom had been suffering shortness of breath for a several weeks and was in the hospital for heart tests that day — a thought that I was trying desperately hard not to consider the ramifications of as she was Darcy’s primary care giver when I worked — so I had to get Darcy to somebody else’s house, and get her settled and still get to work on time. 

There seems to be an unwritten law of human nature that it’s the morning you most need things to go smoothly that they absolutely do not.  Late alarm, crabby child, one too many stop lights, the necessity of a different babysitter, an early meeting at work, and the far too common freight train blocking the only road I could get to work by.  On top of the full and difficult morning, it was also the week of the Christmas concert, so I had two rehearsals before Sunday.  By the time I finally sat down at my desk to work that Wednesday, I could feel the tension in my temples.  Great, just great.

I was in the process of scrolling through all the morning’s emails when I saw something from Bob.  Smiling at what was sure to be an interesting and encouraging diversion, I opened it.  The email covered a variety of topics … his years spent in Africa, his parents continued ministry there, and a few other topics random topics.  However, the last paragraph was anything but ordinary.  I stopped, read, and re-read… He asked if his friendly email banter was bothering me, and then …”I want to ask you out on a date…”

He went on to outline how he didn’t know where I was at or if I was potentially already in a relationship with somebody else, but he had put his intentions very clearly.  He wanted to go on a date.  As I write this now, it seems ridiculous that I could have been so unaware of his intentions at the time, but I was …and so I was shocked, and not at all sure how to respond.  My eyes focused on the last line “…so feel free to slap me down” …

I couldn’t handle this today.

But how could I not handle it?  I was going to see Bob at the concert rehearsal that night!  There was no escaping this.

A little annoyed at his insensitivity (How could he not know what a crazy day I’m having?”), I shelved the email, determining to come back to it later that day. 

Later on, I called my mom to see how the tests had gone.  She explained to me through a fog of drugs that the tests went well and that the results were encouraging.  I’d never heard my mom so … high.  However, she wasn’t so drugged that she didn’t question the strain she heard in my voice.  Moms are special that way.  Responding to her query, I mentioned the email I’d received. 

Should I?

Why not?  He’s a nice guy.  Just don’t keep him waiting.

Don’t keep him waiting.  Thanks, Mom. 

I silently wished that I had more time.  Maybe I could stall just a little bit.  Not to a mean or cruel level, just to an “I need to catch my breath” level…

I emailed him back later in the day with a polite acknowledgement of his question and the response that “maybe we can grab coffee sometime”.  Not quite a slap down, but at least a slight stall that could save rampant awkwardness at the rehearsal.

I should have known better … characteristic of a trait I now greatly respect in Bob, he demanded the same upfront behavior of me that he did (and does) expect of himself… 

The reply to my email was almost immediate:

“So … was that a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’?”

So much for my stalling technique …

A Crafty Moment

I’m not a crafty or artistic person, but there are certain times that an idea comes into my head that I cannot banish until I’ve completely worked it out.

Such was the case this week …

Aidan has a little throw pillow he sleeps with, but it presents a constant problem for me.

1. It’s ugly (originally an old decorative pillow from my bed that ended up being neither decorative nor functional, it adorned the top of the wardrobe ’til Aidan found use for it)

2. It doesn’t have an easily removeable / child-proof slip cover for cleaning.

Up until now, I’ve always covered it with the smallest sham cover I had (which was still 6-8 inches too big all around … and made it even MORE ugly) just so that I had something to cover it, remove, and wash.  This week however, I had a the proverbial “light bulb”!

On my sewing desk, I have a couple badly ripped shirts of Bob’s just waiting to be repurposed.  They’re ripped in the arms (my husband; the Incredible Hulk) so the torso/body of the shirt is completely intact.  Not wanting to send my husband out to work like this … (not that Larry the Cable Guy doesn’t have his own unique style … I just don’t know if it would A) work on Bob, or B) work on Bob’s place of employment) …

…I decided that the shirt would make a great pillow cover.

 

 

I should warn you … I had no pattern, I measured no seams, and I don’t even think I cut in a straight line, so don’t look TOO closely. (actually, you can’t even if you wanted to because of the fuzzy/dark picture … oops … sorry)

*BEFORE*

Technical note: You may need to adjust the circumference of the torso, depending on the width of shirt and the size of your pillow.

*AFTER*

2nd Technical note: I made an executive decision (my favorite part about creating projects) to use the buttons to seal the cover and to leave the shirt in a very “shirt-like” (read: “authentic”) way even as a pillow case so that you can see part of a seam and a pocket:

Result? Aidan loves his old new “Daddy Pillow” and I finally have a good, removable, and washable cover! Added bonus: Aid always has something of his Dad’s very close to him.  Repurposing? Check.  Sentimental Value? Double Check.

The finished product: shown here with Charlie and “Didi” [pronounced “dih-dih”] … the other two items that never leave Aid’s side.

Final notes on the project: After over 24 hours of use, it has become apparent that having a pillow that buttons is also a really great way to teach your 2 year old how to button and un-button things (if they didn’t know already).  Apparently, it’s also an excellent place to store trains.  [True story: I found 3 small wooden trains and 4 pieces of track stuffed into it before his bedtime last night … now that would have made for a comfy sleep.]

Are you a repurposer of fabric?  I have a whole stack of items I’m just itching to find a use for — let me know some of your best / most fun projects!