Sunday, August 28, 2011

It Was the Worst of Times, It Was the Best of Times...

Yes, I know I have that classic Dicken's intro backwards, but I tell ya... this summer, for us, has in a lot of ways seemed like the "worst of times."

In fact, an alternate title for this post could have easily been "Broken Summer."

Broken car.

Broken new car (windshield)

Broken computer.

"Broken" kid 

And now, as of late last night and right before Hurricane Irene began to enter into our neck of the woods, Broken house... as in, a bit of the interior portion of our basement foundation crumbled away onto the floor. Fun fun. "At least" we only rent this place. Not our headache to fix - only to live with in the meantime... and hope it doesn't get worse.

There have been other, more minor problems with this summer as well. For instance, the ice maker on our fridge (also property of our landlords') decided to stop working for a few days. Hubby was able to get that one fixed with some monkeying around, though.

I was miserably sick about 2 or 3 weeks ago. Out for a week of work. High fever for days on end, fatigue and whole body aches. Because of what Sweetie went through, though, I went right away to get tested for Lyme as well as 2 other tick-bourne diseases. All came back negative and I am feeling much better now. Still. I haven't been that sick in about 6 years. And I'd be happy not to be that sick again in at least that many years again.

Hubby and his dad haven't had really great, really consistent work since I'd say about April. Many more 4-week remodel jobs than are good for our financial well-being (jobs usually take about 2 weeks. And they don't get paid until after a remodel is complete.) Stressful times, indeed.

And, yes, I'm sure there are even more woeful news items I could report from our home front. But, you get the point. This summer? Not the best.

BUT... if you are a Sweetie and you look back on this summer - just a couple days away from heading back to school later this week - I am actually pretty certain that you would have thought this summer was, well, pretty sweet.

Hey! We got a cool new (to us) Prius! With air conditioning! And an awesome "way back"/"trunk" area which little girls can crawl into and settle down in during the second movie at the drive-in. Which...

She went to the drive-in for the first time ever this summer! Saw Cars 2. Pretty darn awesome.

We also got a pretty awesome new iMac computer. Totally sweet! And the fact that it comes with a feature that lets you take pictures of yourself as you sit at the key board, then edit those photos to look like they're comic book pages or the like? Way, way cooler still. Especially for a certain little 8 year old who can't seem to get enough of looking at herself in the mirror. This computer purchase may have actually been the highlight of her summer.

More - we traveled on adventures all over New Hampshire, participating in the New Hampshire's Great Park Pursuit. For 4 Saturdays within June and July, we gathered with other state park enthusiast families for fun times, scavenger hunts, and great learning about this really quite fascinating state of ours. They're even talking about starting up a winter version this year. Can't wait to see if that comes to fruition!

Sweetie also got to see 7 of the 8 Harry Potter films this summer. We opted not to take her to Part 2 of The Deathly Hallows until Hubby and I had seen it first. Then, once we did, we did give her the chance to see it, but we went with another plan for that day instead. Now we're almost done reading the first Harry Potter book together as a family. Love this new evening family routine for us!

She went to day camp for 2 weeks in a row - the first week being a Creativity Camp, the second week Theater Camp - at the Boys & Girls Club she goes to after school during the school year. With this, she got to see lots of friends she hadn't seen in awhile, she got to go swimming every day, and she got to act on stage in several short skits (in which she did a fantastic job!). Beyond these 2 weeks, she's spent August spending 2 days per week at the Boys & Girls Club for non-themed "camp" days. More swimming, more friends, more awesome fun! She loves Club so much - this was really great for her.

We as a family had a week off together for a "stay-cation" at the end of July. We haven't had a week-long vacation of any sort in years! So this was really a treat not just for Sweetie but for all of us. During our days we did much traveling to within our state and to other New England states, mainly on geo-caching hunts. One of those days, on a trip up to Quechee, VT, we found - I think - about 13 caches all told!. Pretty impressive. Sweetie loves geo-caching almost as much as Hubby does. Me? Eh - not so much. But I loved seeing them both have such a great time searching for their treasures. I even found my very first cache all on my own! Yeah, have to admit, it was pretty fun.

Towards the end of that stay-cation, we actually did travel down to Providence, RI and stayed overnight 1 night so that we could go to Waterfire. We all thought Waterfire itself was spectacularly beautiful and amazing to see, but I dare say Sweetie's favorite part of that whole weekend was the hotel. Yes, I'm sure those of you with kids can back me up on this one - they do love to stay away from home in hotels! Sweetie was amazed with, it seemed, every light switch, the way the door lock worked, the TV channels available, the bathroom - everything. Yep, had herself a good ol' time.

And besides from starting her summer vaca with a weekend of sickness, followed by the mysterious headaches that ultimately lead to her Lyme diagnosis - she has actually felt really well since the day after she started her antibiotics. Even 6 weeks of medicine, accompanied by a special diet to help her gut handle the extended course of antibiotics, never swayed her mood from being anything but (mostly) cheerful and accommodating to eating the best way possible for her right now. Good thing she's generally such a good eater anyway, not typically scared off by healthy and diverse foods. I have to say, she has been a real trooper through her summer of treatment. And now, we are ever so slightly aiming her diet back into her "regular" ways. And - knock on wood - she has remained feeling good throughout and seems to be staying that way. Yay!

So, yeah - even though we adults have had a pretty lousy summer over all, I'm so happy to say that whatever troubles Hubby and I have seen have not really effected Sweetie negatively in the least. She has had a great summer, by all counts, with lots of activity and many opportunities for memories to be made.

And, I have to say, even Hubby and my trials have at least had the decency to present themselves at the best times possible for sucky things to happen.

Our car died literally 2 days after I received my portion of inheritance from my grandparents. An inheritance just large enough to help us make a decent downpayment on our new car. Thank you!

Our computer died just a couple days before my credit card became reactivated after a year of forced inactivity (my decision, in order to pay down some debt, but activated through the credit card company - so, yeah, truly inactivated.) So - yay! Lets put $1000 back on my card as soon as possible! But at least it was available to help us...

And, like I said, Sweetie has been as helpful and accommodating as we would have ever hoped her to be while dealing with her Lyme treatment. And, concerning that, we were also fortunate enough to catch her Lyme early on.

This summer. It was the worst of times, indeed, in a lot of way. But we are a family who knows how to not only make lemonade out of lemons, but can also serve that sweet lemonade to our Sweetie without her ever really realizing how lemony sour we had it in the first place.

Or maybe that's just her. A girl who generally only knows how to look on the bright side. Sounds good to me. I guess we've taught her well.

Happy Back to School, everyone! May your days ahead be the best you could wish for!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

O Solo Mio

So, keeping with the Lyme theme for just a sec, we placed a visit to the Big Red Bullseye store the other day. Of course we did! It seemed the thing to do...

At any rate, we were going there to shop for whatever it was we needed/wanted (decidedly un health related, I'm sure.) And as we parked and got out of the car, I noticed a mom, around my age I'd say, and her son - probably about Sweetie's age, maybe a bit younger - just passing us by on the way to their car. No big deal, of course. But out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse at the mom's legs. Short legged plastic braces! Just like mine! Wow!

And the son? Well, he was looking at me. Not, I imagined, like almost every other kid and many adults (it seems) looks at me when I'm out and about - as if I'm some odd and curious anomaly very rarely spotted. But more like, "Wow. That lady's just like my mom!"

The mom saw nothing of this - not me, not her son's noticing of me - and just kept on going, pushing her cart toward her car.

Hmmm.... Now, I really have no idea if this woman has spina bifida, as I do. Furthermore, I make no claims whatsoever that I know what it means to have any other physical challenges requiring someone to wear short-legged braces. All I know is that I only recall having ever seen someone wearing braces like mine if that someone also had spina bifida.  Ergo, I concluded that she, too, must have spina bifida.


This not-even-2-second encounter all of a sudden had me realizing something.

Yes, I have certainly seen others in my community with various and diverse physical disabilities. But, you know what? I have never, to my recollection, seen anyone in the area that I was able to tag right away as having spina bifida.

Until now.

Well, wait. I do take that back a bit. See, I am a not-very-active member of the Spina Bifida Association of Massachusetts. I don't live in MA, but because my adjacent state does not have it's own Association, I am granted membership to this one. As such, I have attended a few summer picnics and holiday parties over the last several years. So, of course, at these various gatherings I have definitely met plenty of people with spina bifida. Mostly kids, though, and a few adults. And no one - I think - who actually lives in my state.

But, duh... there has got to be more people in my state - more than just me! - who has spina bifida! I remember when I was a teen that my orthodontist and his wife just had a baby with spina bifida. So, presuming they haven't moved out of the area, there's her at least. But seriously! There's got to be more! And adults! Where are you all?!

Wait a minute, wait a minute... now I'm remembering something else. I do recall going on a date or 2, back when I was a teen, with a guy who had spina bifida. Not sure whatever became of him either. Okay, so that makes three of us.

And now the Target Parking Lot Lady. Who is she? Where is she from? Does she, in fact, have spina bifida? She looked friendly enough - as much as I could tell from a 2 second sideways glance, that is. An adult! Woman! With spina bifida! And at least the one child! My twin! I want to know her!

At any rate, the whole thing made me feel rather alone in the world. Not that I have ever, ever felt the twinges of anything like this before! I'm not lonely. I don't feel different from everyone else. I don't mope around, friendless and bored and as if I'm the only person like me in the whole wide world. I'm just me, and - yeah - people look at me when I walk around, but so what. I've got 30 some years of "practice" getting used to that phenomena. Whatever.

And then, THEN.... we three were on vacation/staycation last week, taking day trips here and there, near and far, to explore as much of New England as we could muster. With that, we found ourselves at Waterfire last Saturday night.  And you know who I spotted in the crowd? No, not the Parking Lot Lady, but another young woman who, it appeared to me and Hubby, also has spina bifida! She was wearing long jeans, so I couldn't see her braces, but I could tell she wore them from her shoes, stance and considerably seemingly underdeveloped legs as compared to the rest of her. That may all seem very presumptuous of me to jump to the spina bifida conclusion. But, I'm just sayin'. I may not see people "like me" often, but when I do, I can easily spot and tag them as such.

This lady was with her (able bodied) boyfriend. They appeared to be in their early 20s or so. Even though they stood for awhile not too far from where we sat, I didn't go talk to her. But I do believe that, after some time, she took notice of me as well.

Wow! Two adult females with spina bifida spotted in one week, both living (more or less/kinda sorta) in my area! Very cool! What a unique sight! And what a realization to consider just how unique this was!

If only I could meet more women in my area with spina bifida. The Parking Lot Lady really has me curious. How cool would that be to see her again and get a chance to introduce myself?! To hear her story of becoming a parent, managing through a pregnancy (if, in fact, she did), handled the day-to-day needs of an infant and growing, active toddler. Yup, it would be really interesting to talk to her and compare notes. Maybe some day...

In the meantime, I'll go on living my solitary life. What a sad, lonely existence. Pitiful, really...

Well, except for that it's not that way at all! Life, for the most part, is good.