Adventures in the Great Outdoors, I

If you took the way that my husband (The Man Of The House, or TMOTH) and I grew up and compared them, you would see the reason why the two of us are vastly different. Unless we were at my grandparents’ farm, we didn’t do much outdoorsy stuff–camping, hiking, fishing, etc. My husband? was outside ALL THE TIME.

Ironically, my husband and I met on a camping trip–the weekend was the first time I’d ever stayed overnight in a tent.

While I’m still not an “outdoorsy” girl–I’d still rather be at home with my books and laptop–I’ve been getting better about being outside. Or at least I’m trying to be.

Frequently on the weekends, my husband says for me to pack a cooler and grab some diapers for our three-year-old, and off we go. Sometimes I grumble, if not to him, to myself. I’m not a spontaneous person, I like to have some time to plan things when possible. An hour to pack everything we’ll need for the rest of the day and it’s 11 AM? Yeah, doesn’t thrill me too much.

But, I like what it’s teaching my kids–to be flexible, roll with the punches, and most importantly, enjoy the outdoors (although, much of the time, all they’re enjoying at this age are movies in the car and an excessively long car ride.)

Father’s Day was one of these days. On the way to church, TMOTH made noises that he wanted to go fishing. So, I had about a two hour warning before we got home that this was on the plate. Get home, pack lunch, grab the diapers, head out. 

Then, what inevitably happens with us, “Where are we going?”

“I don’t know. You tell me.”

“It’s Father’s Day. You pick.”

“I don’t know where to go!”

A bluegill our daughter caught on Father’s Day

I sigh, make a few half-hearted suggestions. We stop and he retrieves the Gazeteer from the trunk. I start telling him directions. The kids watch “How to Train Your Dragon” for the 17th time in the last few weeks. The younger one naps. The dog is cramped, on the floor between the front and back seats of our mid-sized sedan.

We’re all wishing we had a Suburban, especially the dog.

Eventually, we find a spot we’ve been to before, a long, long time ago–maybe before the kids came around. TMOTH and our daughter fish.

Our daughter catches two small bluegill, TMOTH catches a small catfish and a small bluegill.

I keep our son from falling into the water, take pictures of dragonflies when I can get close enough to them without our son getting too close and scaring them off. We huddle down together after retrieving our hats from the car as light showers come across the lake and hit us head on. By the time we leave, my T-shirt is soaked from the rain.

I’m cold, haven’t had dinner, and am tired, but other than gently reminding my husband he neglected to get me something to eat when I couldn’t eat at Subway (I started a gluten-free diet last fall, so Subway is NOT on my menu,) I don’t say too much. I do adjust the thermostat in the car to something a little warmer, then help my husband figure out where the heck to go. We take a wrong turn or two (I’ve gotten turned around on where we are,) and I mark the Gazeteer in ink on where to go again, and scratch off roads shown on the map that aren’t roads.

It’s been a successful day overall. We made it home in one piece. The kids got to run around and fish. I took several pictures, none I’m thrilled with, but they’re okay. And more importantly, my husband got me out of the house. I’ve become quite a homebody the last couple years. Having your life center around the health and wellness of your immune-compromised son will do that to you.

Next up on our list of challenges–a possible weekend trip to a cabin, or maybe even in a tent.

I’m not sure I’m ready yet.

Until next time…

Topsy-Turvy

The last ten days have been anything but normal. And, the news TMOTH and I got last week has definitely turned our world on its ear.

Our son is headed for bone marrow transplant.

When I got the news a week ago, I fell apart. My world has been rocked. How could this bubbly, hyperactive, absolutely most adorable little boy in the world need such a risky procedure?

But, at this point, he does. We’ve got a lot of steps to go through before the ultimate decision will be made. And, we have to find a donor–it’s not certain any of his immediate family will be a match. The likelihood is 25% for his sister, and 2% for both TMOTH and me–29% chance that one of the three of us will match.

The dust is just starting to settle and I can think straight again after getting the call last Tuesday. But most of my energy is being spent trying to figure out what’s next, and looking down the road to the next few stages of treatment. Still hoping that when we go in to do another biopsy prior to transplant that the numbers have changed and we can hold off. I’d rather deal with biopsies every 3, 6, or 12 months than transplant.

I don’t know what this means for my blog, or even my writing in general. I know I’ll need to write to deal with the stress. And it seems like I’ve had three major things happen in just the last few weeks: first, deciding it was time to say goodbye to “Homebody” and move on; second, a personal decision to work on something I’d been struggling with for a long time; now, this. All in a matter of just a few weeks.

I’ll check in when I can, try to post as I’m inspired or led… and this blog may turn into more of a journal of our journey, at least for a while.

Thank you, loyal readers, for any prayer you happen to send my family’s direction.

PS: If you should feel so led, please consider becoming a marrow donor. It’s an easy, painless process to get on the registry (although there is a small fee unless it’s associated with a donor drive). Please check out Marrow.org for more information. — LS

Two Years… and Counting…

Two years ago, my house was blessed to have the most precious (and I’m not biased in any way) little boy come into our home. His labor and delivery were brief (2 hours of labor, 3 minutes for delivery).

And when I saw him for the first time, I was stunned he was a boy (I’d really thought we were having a girl.) But, I thought he was perfect in every way.

I still cling to that thought every now and then. Now, I know he’s not perfect (he’s got the ornery streak to prove it!) And, I know he’ll never be the same as other little boys–not just because God made him different, but because of what’s different about him at a cellular level.

When I was growing up, I can’t remember having birthday parties. Sure, I had a girlfriend over most every birthday, or went to spend the week of my birthday (which strangely almost always fell over spring break) at my grandparent’s house in the Ozark’s of Missouri. But, I never really had parties that I can remember.

Alexander

With Alexander, we don’t know how many years we’re going to get with him. He may grow up, have a family, and get to raise his own children, see his grandchildren.

I pray this is the case.

But, I also am all too aware that every birthday he has may be his last one. And, as a mother, this chokes me up. As I’m writing this, I’m crying, even though I can hear him and his sister in the next room, playing.

You see, his condition, Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome (SDS), puts him at a high risk of developing leukemia. I’ve talked about that before. Right now, until he has his next biopsy next month, we know he’s at an even more elevated risk.

And, should it come to it, and he requires a bone marrow transplant, I know he’s got but a 50/50 shot. We saw it with another SDS family just in the last few weeks. Their son had a transplant, and sadly passed away a few days later. He wasn’t much older than our little guy.

It scares me, more than I thought anything ever could.

So, on Saturday over the weekend, Alexander turned two. And, we celebrated, as we expect we’ll be doing not just with him next year, but with his older sister when she turns four in October.

While both of them can drive me nuts, and some days I wonder if it’s really worth it, something in the back of my mind reminds me that all of our days are numbered. Only God knows how many days we get. And even though writing my stories are important to me, blogging and social networking are fun and even important tools as I try to get the engine going on my writing career, there’s things more important.

Until next time,

Liberty

P.S. — I should have mentioned this when it posted, but I guest blogged over on Linda Yezak‘s site about 10 days ago. Should you get a chance, go check it out.

Living Research

How many times have you been in the middle of something major in your life, and thought to yourself, “Gee, this would make an interesting story”? How often do you act on that and go sit down and write your story?

While I’m no memoirist, and have actually yet to read a memoir (I’ve got one on my Kindle–I think,) there are times when odd things happen to me and I think it would may make an interesting addition to a story, or a story in and of itself.

With my son having been in and out of the hospital so much in the last few months (we had #4 admission last week), I find myself pondering what I’ve learned by being at the hospital.

Let’s get one thing straight: I absolutely HATE hospitals. Up until I was 25, I’d never been admitted to one. The only reason why I ever have been is due to having babies (or complications thereof). I avoided hospitals like the plague.

Maybe not the best strategy for a mystery writer. Look at all the research I missed out on.

My son’s condition doesn’t necessarily mean that my experiences lend themselves to mystery writing. He’s hardly been rushed to the hospital, a victim of a stabbing, shooting, poisoning (and let’s hope he never is!) But, the anxiety of not knowing what’s going on, the waiting, hoping that my son will get better… that’s something I can draw on as a writer. Even though I try to take everything one day–sometimes one hour–at a time, and I don’t worry in the traditional sense of the word, I understand.

He’s never been in serious enough condition that his life is hanging by a thread, but I can understand better now how the parents of a child with leukemia may feel. And, even though I have no plans anytime in the future to write about something of that nature as a topic (at least, not in a novel format), I do feel that the experiences I’ve had as of late will make me a better writer.

When you get right down to it, all writers draw on their own experiences. You have to. Especially when you’re writing fiction. Fiction is about an experience, whether bad, good, or ugly.

You tell me: what was the last real life experience you used to draw on for your writing? It may only be related by a smidge, but did it help you write a more believable scene?

Until next time,

Life Gets In the Way

Over the last few months, I’ve found life getting more and more in the way of my writing. Yeah, I’ve kept up with my blog posts. I’ve sort-of kept up with my book reviews.

But my books? My plans to do freelancing? Eh, not so much.

Photo by ~in-door (not an actual representation of my bathroom)

This is frustrating for me. I hate feeling like I’m behind, even if it’s in my own mind. Yet, I look around my apartment, and see the floor that needs vacuuming, the boxes that still need unpacking (or better yet, taken to Goodwill or our storage facility), the bathrooms that need cleaning, and then I feel behind in my housework.

Yes, I realize I’m a mom.

Yes, I realize I’m a mom of a little boy who has some special needs. And a mom to a toddler. And a mom to a chocolate Labrador. And a wife to TMOTH.

But I still feel behind. Okay, I am behind.

Oy.

Let’s face it right now: life will try to get in the way of your best laid plans. I didn’t think this time last year when I was newly pregnant with my son that my new home-away-from-home now would become the hospital. To date, my son has been admitted three times since November, the shortest stay being one night, the longest being seven days.

Yuck.

But in the midst of it all, I can still see my other priorities.

Sure, it would help if I got more cooperation from TMOTH. I’m not complaining; he’s as frustrated by everything as I am.

Photo by ~underawartorsky

But, it sure does help if I plan my day and try to work some of my priorities around the family priorities. For instance, I’m writing this blog post at 8:15 in the morning a couple weeks before it’s supposed to post. My husband’s at work, my kids are asleep. It’s going to snow later today, so we’ll be stuck inside. When I’m done with this, I’ve got another post to write, then, hopefully, I’ll get to do some editing on Homebody.

I’m having to train myself to be more of a morning person so I can get things done. Dr. Pepper helps tremendously!

Have you had to make changes in your own life to get done your goals? How has that worked for you? Do you regret it, or are you resigned to the fact that this is how it will be for a while?

Until next time,