Friday, December 31, 2010

It's been a long December...

...and there's reason to believe
maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember all the times I tried to tell myself
to hold on to these moments as they pass
-Counting Crows, "A Long December"

2010, where do I begin to describe thee? I really can't decide whether it's been the worst year of my life ... or the best. Maybe both are possible at the same time.

This year started off with the horrible news that my mom's cancer had spread to her brain, her liver, her lymph nodes - everywhere. She began aggressive treatments, some of which are working on some of the tumors. It is amazing what modern medicine can do. And yet her tumors are still spreading and she is still fighting this horrible, ugly, awful disease. Cute pink breast cancer awareness ribbons are everywhere, and still it continues to affect the lives of millions. I'm so proud of how she has handled herself in the face of devastating news. I've learned so much from her, and her positive spirit continues to be an inspiration to me (and to lots of you as well!).

Building castles in the sand with her #1 grandson

My worry and anxiety shifted to joy when Luke McLean Foster entered our lives on February 22, 2010. He turned our quiet little threesome into the Foster Fab Four, and brightened our lives in ways I couldn't have predicted or imagined. He was such an easy baby, and the months at home with him during my maternity leave were among the best of my life. I always knew I wanted at least 2 kids, but it's far better than I expected. As cheesy as it is, it really does my heart good to see them giggle at each other. And giggle at each other's farts. They are still boys, after all.

Luke, in the days when his crazy hair was only mildly crazy

And then life's roller coaster threw me for a big loop in June when we learned that Jay would have another open heart surgery. Those months of preparing for the worst and deciding where to go for surgery and desperately trying to keep him healthy ... I don't want to go there again, even just by writing it out. I don't want to rehash it all in my mind.

Then there were the horrible dark days in Philadelphia when we nearly lost him. I still have flashbacks as I fall asleep, seeing the nurses doing CPR on him. If I allow myself to think about it, I can hear the beeps of the monitor and the sound of the ventilator as if they are right beside me. I still dwell on what could have been. Even now, months later, it's still raw and painful to let my mind drift back to those days.

I witnessed a miracle as my little boy recovered beyond all expectations. I saw him go from complete life support to running and jumping and talking and laughing and playing. How can I even begin to describe that? I experienced love and support from those around me that went beyond what words can describe. People (yes you!) showed compassion for us through care packages and food, through visits, through cards and letters and emails, through incredible gifts of generosity. I can't thank you enough for supporting us in our dark days and celebrating our miracle with us.

Rockin' his guitar on Christmas morning

In spite of the awful things 2010 brought, at this moment, I have everything my heart desires. Today, my mom's feeling good enough to ring in the new year at the beach with her childhood best friend. The Foster Fab Four saw the acorn & fireworks (the early acorn, of course!) in downtown Raleigh, then came home to drink hot chocolate in our PJ's. Life is good.

I've learned to appreciate the little moments. I've questioned and re-thought everything I thought I knew - about God and God's role in this world, about life, about relationships with my family and friends. It's been a horrible year, and yet it's been filled with incredible blessings. But for 2011, I'll take a year that's a bit less intense. 'K? Thanks.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Baby you can drive my car...

...Yes I'm gonna be a star
Baby you can drive my car
-The Beatles, "Drive My Car

Today's agenda? Car shopping.

I finally said goodbye to my beloved Honda CR-V after the unpleasant crunch it received on I-40. When the damage was all said and done, it was totaled. So sad - I really loved that car. There's no question in my mind that I would have had an easier time saying goodbye to one of my pets than I had letting go of my baby! I certainly spent more time in it than I spend with Bonnie & Clyde. It's a good thing I wasn't here to see them tow it away because there would have been tears. And really, who cries over a vehicle?! Oh shut up. I know I'm a total sentimental crybaby.

Before we headed out shopping, I had narrowed it down to 6 vehicles - Honda CR-V, Pilot, and Odyssey. Toyota RAV-4, Highlander, and Sienna. Small SUV, bigger SUV, and minivan from the only 2 car makers I'm seriously willing to buy. As much as I loved the small SUV, there are certainly times that I wished for a bit more room - in particular, the times I want to carry someone else along with the Foster Foursome. But there are also a lot of times I've wanted room in the back for the stroller AND groceries.

And then there's the possibility of kid #3. If kid #3 moves from nebulous future possibility to real-life person requiring a car seat, then bigger car is no longer an option. No, we aren't having a kid for another couple of years, if at all. But IF we're going to want a van eventually, perhaps now is the time.

We started at the Toyota dealership where the salesman told me in no uncertain terms that I didn't need a van and I should test drive the RAV-4. Ummm, okay. Grumble. (Can you tell that I so DO NOT want to be car shopping?! I want my old car back and don't want to have to make such a big decision!) So I drove the RAV-4, and didn't like it any better than I did when I drove it 3 years ago. One model down, 5 to go. He wouldn't show us a van and didn't have time to help us drive a Highlander (he told us to come back on Monday) so another decision was made - I won't be buying a car there.

We headed down to the Honda dealership, and the whole experience was totally different. The salesguy actually listened to what I wanted, and first spent some time talking to me (ME! Not Derek!) about what I want. He helped me realize that the Pilot's current body style is much bigger and more truck-like than I would want. (One more down - 4 to go!) Then he showed me the Odyssey minivan ... cue the harp music. I loved it.

I wanted to hate it, but I absolutely loved it. Backup camera? Maybe I can finally learn to parallel park. Onboard computer that lets you upload your pictures via USB port? Yes please. "Cool box" to store sippy cups of milk? Cooled by the A/C? I am in love. Room for 3500 songs stored in the system's hard drive? Even Derek is in love!

But then, I got online to look at reviews. They all start out something like this (from Car & Driver's review):
  • They may be as fashionable as those old-timey, full-body swimsuits, but there’s no denying that minivans are the most sensible vehicles...
Sensible? Unfashionable? Ugh. Do I really want to pay ~$12K more for a sensible, not-so-cute car just because I sometimes need to drag someone else along? Do I want to pay $12K for a cool box? I could get a pretty snazzy cooler that's charged via cigarette lighter AND a super sweet ipod for that much money. I've managed to make it more than a decade without a backup camera - why do I suddenly want one now? But that push-button door opener is just about the greatest thing EVER invented! What does sensible really mean, anyway?

I'm so conflicted. I don't want to have to decide and I don't want a new car payment ... I just want my old, pre-wreck CRV. Boo.

Friday, December 3, 2010

I fell in to a burning ring of fire...

...I went down, down, down
and the flames went higher
-Johnny Cash, "Ring of Fire"

So, Luke has a horrible cold - double ear infection, day #3 of a high fever, and more snot rivers than I've ever seen on a kid. We've seen some pretty pitiful kid sicknesses, what with all the rounds of pneumonia we've seen. But this is right up there with the most pitiful.

Derek pulled out the humidifier this morning and for some reason it kinda freaked Jay out. He kept asking "Will it be loud?" and he was clearly pretty concerned about it. We said it will help Luke feel better, reassured him that it would be quiet, and didn't really think much more of it.

Then about an hour later, Jay asked me, "Why does that thing help Luke feel better?" Given that we'd attempted 17 different "that things" to help Luke feel better (and that's just what we tried between the hours of 4 a.m. and 7 a.m.!), I didn't know whether he was referring to the snot-sucker, the Tylenol, the cool washcloths, Vicks Vapo-rub, the antibiotics or what.

Me: What do you mean?

Jay: That thing. The thing that shoots fire out. Why it makes Luke feel better?

Me: Uh .... I'm not sure what you're talking about, sweetie. (At this point, I'm really confused where he's going with this.)

Jay: That thing! The one Daddy put in his room!

Me: Oh, the humidifier! It doesn't shoot fire, honey. It puts a little mist of water in the air. It's not smoke coming out. It's just water.

Jay: Then why is it called a humidi-fire?