Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Big boo-boo

Yesterday I lost at least five years from my life.

George accidentally fell into the guest room door when the children were running around after bath time.  The day had been perfect until that point—Frances had school in the morning, George had some alone time with Gram-E while I went to the dentist, I had my usual lunch date, we went to the pool after naptime and were winding up the day in time to have a relaxed dinner before Daddy’s evening arrival.  But then I heard the dreaded *thump.*  That thump that makes a mother’s heart sink from her chest to her toes.  Before I could react Frances called out, “Mommy come quick!  George is bleeding!”  My girl is one amazing big sister.

George split his cleft from his nose to his upper lip.  It bled like a faucet.  He cried; Frances cried; I cried.  And then I called Gram-E.  What would I ever do without our wonderful neighbors?  As soon as Elinor saw George’s lip she knew it needed stitches.

Without missing a beat, the four of us jumped in the car and headed to the pediatric ER.  George had stopped crying, the bleeding had slowed down and thankfully he could suck on a paci without any pain.  George has a borderline obsession with his paci – knowing he could enjoy that small pleasure gave me some mild relief.

The ER check-in was quick and less than ten minutes later, George and I were headed back to see the doctor while Frances and Gram-E watched cartoons in the waiting room.  I remember being so proud of Frances at that moment.  She was hungry; she was tired; she was nervous for George.  But she showed none of that as her pajama-clad little brother was whisked away past the automatic doors.  Whether intentionally or unintentionally, she was showing a brave front for George and I know he felt it, too.

The doctor examined George and not surprisingly said he needed stitches, but that the rip was so clean it would not likely leave a scar.  Then she looked at me and said, “So, are you ready?”  I now know why she asked me that.

They put George in a makeshift straight jacket, laid him on a cot and asked that I lay beside him.  His small body was shaking and his crying pierced my ears, but I did my best to comfort him—and this was before the doctor even touched him.  First came the Novocain.  Then five stitches.  One by one, each one seemed to take longer than the last.  At this point, the screams coming from him were almost not human—except that it was my son.  My baby boy.  He screamed so hard, he made himself sick.  He called out for me—I was right next to him; I could not have been closer to him if I were laying on him; I whispered in his ear; sang his favorite songs; told him how much I loved him.  None of it seemed to penetrate his fear.  I knew he wasn’t in pain—he was scared beyond belief and I couldn’t do anything about it.  He was asking for my help and I wasn’t helping him.  All I could do was stroke his sweaty shoulder and kiss his flushed cheeks.  He felt so strong underneath my hands and I was a weak, crying mess.

At some point they finished the stitches, unwrapped George, and let him have his paci while he finished up his wailing on my shoulder, which eventually morphed into a gentle weep and then finally to those quick involuntary breaths that follow a hard cry. 

Daddy found his way back to the ER at that point.  The doctor gave him some good-natured ribbing for showing up after the storm, but for me his timing could not have been more perfect.  As soon as he scooped up George in his arms, I completely lost it.  I didn’t realize how tight I had been holding my muscles until they could relax in my sobbing.  Will was there and I didn’t have to be the strong parent anymore.

George is fine now and I know how lucky we are that he only needed five stitches (or that his injury wasn’t far worse considering the many “close calls” we’ve had in the house).  I also recognize that we will very likely be back in the ER with one or both of the children during these growing years.  As much as I would like to put both Frances and George in a bubble and roll them around town for the rest of their childhood, I know this is not practical or possible (of course, if it is possible, please drop me an email and I will have them “bubbled” by the evening).  I can only hope that George’s first major injury can be a lesson to us all—particularly me.  My kids are tough, but they are not indestructible.  And their mother is a weepy-eyed chump.

George with his self-described "big boo-boo."  Do you think I am a tad dramatic?  This makes me wonder how I will react to the inevitable broken bone, appendicitis or the thousands of other childhood afflictions that may be around the corner.  No worries--I'm sure I'll write about them!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Goodnight, Irene

We made it past Hurricane Irene and I can safely say that the Homiller house fared much better than many others in our locality (or at least this Homiller house—Will’s parents are still without power and his brother had five huge trees fall in his yard).  We miraculously still have power (apparently 75% of the metro Richmond area is out) and we had only one tree on our property line fall away from our house into the street.

No fewer than three houses in our small neighborhood had trees fall onto their homes (one home had two trees hit it).  We are lucky to say the least:

One of the three house-victims.  I felt a little bad taking pictures of this nice family's bad luck and I didn't have the heart to take a picture of the other two.

Otherwise, we just have a lot of cleanup from fallen branches and leaves scattered throughout the yard and street:

For more scary pictures of Irene’s damage (and a fantastic blog in general), visit Young House Love.

In the meantime, after a trip to the river and an (almost) week at the beach Frances, George and I are busy getting reacquainted with our normal schedule.  Even though none of us are returning to school this fall, I still have a feeling of renewal come Labor Day weekend.  In fact, one of my (“New Fall”?  “New School Year”?) resolutions this year is to cook more.  I don’t hate to cook (in fact, I actually like it), but I am perfectly content each evening to finish my day with a bowl of cereal rather than an actual meal.  Considering Frances and George beg for dinner beginning around 5:15pm (long before Daddy gets home) that leaves Will out in the cold scrounging around in the refrigerator at 8:30pm for something edible (other than mac ‘n cheese and canned peas, that is).  And as 1950s as it sounds, I do feel a sense of responsibility to make sure my family is well-fed—and so, the resolution begins…another day.  Sadly, nearly all of the food stores in our area are closed due to power outages.  How very Scarlett O’Hara of me (“I’ll think about that tomorrow”).

I’ll leave you with a picture of Frances wearing Back Street Boys stickers.  There is nothing like a compulsorily housebound day due to a very slow moving hurricane to inspire some much overdue purging of pre-children memorabilia.  Will gave me these stickers sometime before the children were born—I have no idea when.  Maybe for a birthday?  Christmas?  Engagement present?  Frances loved them and spent a good 30 minutes decorating herself and her little brother.
A girl after my own heart.  BSB 4eva!
What did we do with the remainder of the day?  I seemed to have blocked that from my memory, which is probably a good thing.

Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Neither Great Dismal Swamp fire nor earthquake nor hurricane…

…could dampen our beach vacation.  Well, not completely true—we did have to depart a day early under a mandatory evacuation due to Hurricane Irene.  In fact, as I write this note our lights are flickering and I have little confidence our power will stay functioning long enough for me to do a full post of our trip.  So, I will leave you with some picture highlights and a promise to write more about our trip once Mother Nature has passed us by.

Flying kites

Lots of walks on the beach

We had an early start our first morning (not even enough time to change out of our PJs)

And it is safe to say that Frances LOVED the water.  The bigger the wave, the better.

Incredible sunrises

Our view

Special visitors

And special visits (to the Aquarium)

Morning coffee...

...evening beer...

...and everything in between.

Stay safe everyone!  And see you after the storm.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Beach or Bust!

Can you tell all of us are excited?  We’ve been planning this for months:

We’ve been counting down the days:

We’ve been making lists, more lists and even lists of our lists:

Can you find Frances's "list?"  We start young in this family.

Frances was even kind enough to give George a much-needed haircut:

I mean, really…could we get any more cliché in this house?  An almost four-year-old big sister decides to give her almost two-year-old little brother a partial-bang trim the day before our beach vacation where we will surely be taking more pictures than we do at any other time of the year (and maybe even a potential “Christmas Card” shot).  I was so in shock when I saw what had happened I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  So instead I called Will at work and took pictures of the crime scene.  Yep, major lesson-learning going on over here.

I suppose she does look a tad remorseful:

Have a great week everyone!  If you promise to send us “good beach weather” vibes I promise to return with crisp fall weather in tow and plenty of end-of-the-summer photos.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A (river) picture is worth a thousand words

Our long weekend on the river was wonderful—exhausting, exhilarating and everything in between.  I didn’t take as many pictures as I would have liked because of the aforementioned knee tweak (slippery river rocks and a mending knee do not mix well and may land one in the local county’s ER at 4am with an incredibly forgiving spouse at one’s side…hypothetically speaking of course), which left me hobbling around for the last full day we had together.  Thank goodness Will had already arrived at that point and I could spend the day reading (and finishing!) my book.  Secretly it was wonderful, but please don’t tell the rest of my family who helped Will entertain Frances and George all day Saturday.

I am most disappointed that I didn’t get any pictures of the kiddos swimming, which they both loved.  The water was predictably frigid, but the days were sunny and fairly warm—as long as you kept moving around your brain could convince your body that the river was merely “refreshing.”  But I did manage to get some great shots of other typically river activities, including

Our walk through the cow pasture:

Painting river rocks:

Playing with cousin Andy and the noodles:

Walking across the swinging bridge to throw rocks (and as an aside, I think I have typed the word “rocks” in this one post more than I have in my entire life…I am beginning to understand my knee issues):

Playing with Nana (and her sunglasses):

And Frances’s first canoe ride (thank you, cousin Ellie!):

I love these pictures.  They help remind me how tiny Frances still is - whew!

George took first prize for “Best River Hair”:

But Frances was a close second with her curlier-than-normal ‘do:

Saturday night brought rain and flash flooding, so we packed up Sunday and headed home.  It was wonderful to see my brother Johnny and his family and I hope our trips to the river will become an informal annual tradition (so far we are three-years running). 

I'm not sure Pop got the "silly face" memo in the second picture.

And maybe next year, I will get even more pictures of Will at the river.  I promise he was there—even if half the time he was still sporting his work clothes:

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back...for a bit

We’re back from our adventures on the river and had a great time.  I should confess that we’ve actually been back since Sunday evening—our visit was cut short by some flash flooding on the Cowpasture (making it not swimmable) and a bum knee tweak (by yours truly).  But I’ve been using this past day and a half away from the computer to catch up on laundry and do some early packing/organizing for our beach week trip this weekend (WOOHOO!!!).

I want to write about our river weekend as soon as possible, but I have to first wish my wonderful Will a (belated) wedding anniversary!  Seven years ago Sunday (August 14th) I married my best friend on the planet. 

I think it’s safe to say that neither one of us knew what we were getting into that day, but we have both really lucked out in the soul mate department.  I love Will more today on this random Tuesday afternoon than I did when I walked down the aisle seven years ago, linked to my father’s arm and watching him shamelessly tear up—and that is saying a lot.  I have no secret in making that happen or any advice to the next generation of newlyweds.  I only know that Will and I still make each other laugh, have immense respect for each other’s skills, goals, dreams and personal time, and never finish a conversation or an email without an “I LOVE YOU!”  (Yep, the all CAPS and exclamation point are essential).  Other than that, I have to guess that someone (maybe more than one person) was looking out for me the day I met Will and whispered in my ear, “He’s a good one honey; don’t let him get away!”

I couldn’t agree more!

So, how did we spend our anniversary this year?  We drove home from the river and stopped in Charlottesville for lunch with the kiddos.  And while that may not sound very romantic, running around the law school where Will and I first met with our two little future UVa-ers (maybe?) was incredibly wonderful and nostalgic.  I left there with a sense of gratitude to the school not only for giving me a great education but an idyllic future.


Happy Tuesday everyone!  For my next post I promise lots of river pictures.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Find the River

Frances, George and I are off to the river tomorrow (followed by Daddy come Friday) to spend the next five days.  We return midweek next week and leave for the beach that next Saturday for a week.  Oh what a hard life we lead, yes?

But as I’ve heard other parents say (in various renditions of the preceding), vacations with youngins’ are much more of a relocation than a relaxation – and I have to agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment.

However, if there is a place where I can feel relaxed even with my rugrats on their worst behavior (who Frances and George?), it is the river. 

Lynchburg Camp Cowpasture is a camp that was started by Frank’s grandfather and some of his friends many, many years ago on one of the most beautiful banks of the Cowpasture River in Bath County, Virginia.  And while it has modernized somewhat since those first days of camping out in tents, outhouses, and the “no females allowed” policy, it is still very rustic by most accounts and lazily yet adamantly relaxes your soul as soon as you pull up the gravel drive and park your car next to clothes lines weighed down by wet bathing suits and inner tubes.

I have been going to Cowpasture (or just “the river” as we all call it) since my parents met when I was five years old; forever in my memory.  Our small family has been going since Frances and George were tiny and I am so thankful that they will have the same memories of our tranquil mountain getaway when they are my age – peace, nature, quiet, millions of tiny stars in the night sky, tree frogs sounding in the night, and an appreciation for modern amenities when you arrive back home.

The river has it all, from incredible natural beauty:

To a slower pace of life: 

I’ve been there as a young mother:

And expecting #2:

And now both children have had a taste of this wonderful place:

I’m very excited to get back to the river now that Frances and George are becoming better swimmers.  Of course, as you may imagine the water can be slightly cold even in August (read: holy cow it is absolutely freezing); but that never stops us from having a great time.  Particularly when Nana and Pop are around!

Have a great week everyone…see you in a few days!

Monday, August 8, 2011

No Post

I am too sad to post anything today; I hope you will all forgive me.  Our family suffered a loss over the weekend and everything I write seems trivial and unimportant:

Max, Marshall, Gram-E and Barclay (the patient one)

Barclay Pyles (the beauty on the far right) passed away last night in his parents’ arms, right where he should have been.  I wish we had a better picture of his adorable face; he was quite a feisty charmer and we all loved him dearly. 

Barclay was the pet of our beloved Gram-E and Mr. Pyles (our third set of “grandparents” who live two houses away from us).  I remember seeing him out walking with Gram-E (or Elinor as the adults call her) when we were first looking to buy this house in 2004.  I knew it was a sign when the house I loved the most was steps away from a Bichon like Barclay (my parents have two Bichons, one of which had been mine until college; and of course we now have Marshall and Max).  We have all watched Barclay and his parents walk our neighborhood twice a day for the last seven years and it doesn’t seem possible that I won’t see him again this afternoon, bouncing along with his tail held high and his pink tongue happily panting.

Thank you, Barclay, for everything you gave to our family and especially to your family down the street.  Today I hugged Marshall and Max the second I saw them and I’ve given them more attention than they are used to.  And this was your last unselfish gift to me; helping me to appreciate everything I have until the very end.

We love you!


Editor's Note:  Minutes after reading this post, Will sent me the following email about Barclay that I had to share -

"We’re all very sad, for sure.  I’ll always think of his especially soft fur, his unique howl and his tireless efforts to get Marshall and Max to play in the backyard.  It will be very strange not to see him passing our windows… before we got Marshall and Max, you’ll remember it was quite an event to see him.  I’d say he reached celebrity status in our house.   And there is no other dog that Marshall and Max encounter on their walks and perk up with anticipation to visit."

Will says the right thing.  Always.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

More things I love right now  This website is a gift sent from the female gods to the rarest of my gender who detest shopping (and even worse – taking our children shoe shopping).  Free shipping both ways.  Easy returns no questions asked.  Incredibly fast delivery (literally 1-2 days and the shoes are sitting on your doorstep).  Actually, the only downside to Zappos that I have discovered so far (of course please tell me if the company is known for having a terrible carbon footprint or harming animals in any way to dispense this glorious service.  That will certainly (may) dissuade me from using them), is that there selection is almost too big and I have a difficult time narrowing down my choices.  According to my mother, however, that just means I need to order all of the shoes I like and return the ones I don’t (“Free shipping, Lucy!  Get as many as you want.”).  I can almost feel Will’s heart drop into his stomach as his thoughts drift to “please do not take shopping advice from your mother.”  Not to mention the fact that I do get a bit queasy charging hundreds of dollars on my credit card at a time.  But otherwise, Zappos has saved my sanity many, many times.

Our new Big Ben clock from LL Bean.  We already had 3 of these clocks that I purchased years ago.  Will (aka, snooze button addict) started using one for his alarm clock so that he would not be tempted to fall back asleep—no snooze buttons.  Fast forward to 18+ months later to a time when George is obsessed with clocks and has the brute strength of a young King Kong and you get a broken Big Ben clock.  Thankfully, LL Bean still sells these great timepieces, but they’ve changed the design slightly (bigger numbers, sleeker look) – I actually like it better.  It now sits a safe distance from George’s reach with only one minor flaw – they’ve added a snooze button.  So, Will is back to using his college digital alarm clock and I am back to ensuring he is actually waking up when the alarm sounds.

Once Upon A Child.     First I should confess I don’t actually buy many things for my children.  They have very doting grandparents, aunts, uncles and other friends and family who adorn them with clothes, toys, books and just general wonderfulness.  But on the rare occasion that I need to get them clothes or baby/kid accessories, I always go to Once Upon a Child first—a consignment store for gently used (and from what I can tell often have never been used) children’s things that are very inexpensive and always in-stock.  Plus, I like to think of it as another (albeit small) way of shopping green by reusing these tiny little clothes.  After all, most children grow out of those adorable outfits after about four wearings (unless you count Frances’s 3 purple dresses all of which have holes in them from her overuse – poor girl).

My Ugg slippers.            Yes, I know; they are so very “Hollywood.”  Or at least they were 8 years ago and now they are so very “last season” I’m certain.  But I am in love with them and have been since Will bought them for me many, many Christmases ago.  And in truth, this shabby pair is probably the third or fourth I have owned since the initial purchase because I wear them every evening and every morning.  I wear them to do my Pilates stretches when I first wake up (that glorious 30 or so minutes before anyone else is awake).  I wear them to get the mail, to put the trashcan away at the end of the day and sometimes even to walk the dogs.  And I wear. Them. Out. 

My new Kindle!              Thanks to so many positive reviews of this little contraption, I took the big leap and bought one.  I suppose my week-long deliberation doesn’t come close to a monumental life changing decision, but I did feel much better knowing that so many readers I respect were already happily using one.  Isn’t that silly?  In a way it seems I am still self-conscious about certain actions in my life and in some way (virtual this time) need “approval” from friends and family before diving in.

Just looking at this picture makes me want to go and read; and when is that a bad thing?
Hope everyone is having a great weekend!