Thursday, August 31, 2006

Not ready yet

Jack's memorial service is tomorrow. I will have to get time off of work to take Trevor & Diana. Lee will stay home with Connor - that's not something Connor would be able to manage very well. Not so much because he misses Jack, but all the emotion would be hard for him to handle.

Jack's parents opted to have a viewing yesterday & today so people could pay their respects. I offered to take Trevor & Diana, if they felt they needed to do that. Neither of them wants to remember Jack that way, though. They are still coping with the whole idea, but that's not the way they want to bring closure to it.

Because we were quoted in the paper, another mom called me to talk about the whole thing. Her son was Jack's best friend in Kindergarten to 4th grade (about when Diana stepped in, actually), and they'd kept contact. She found out by hearing a local talk radio host blasting parents for letting their kids play in the river. This was the very next morning. Anyway, because she'd moved to a town close by, no one knew Jack, and she needed to talk. So we talked a good hour or so. She wanted to do something, but other than dropping off food, I said I wasn't planning on getting in their way right now. She said when she'd lost her dad, there was all this support for the first few weeks, and then suddenly everyone went back to their lives and she felt left all alone. I said that's when we need to step in then.

The obituary in the paper also named the son they'd lost previously. I had seen a photo of him at their house in the past, and thought maybe he was a cousin or something, but Jack's mom had told me that was their son who had died. She didn't go any further than that, and I didn't ask. I expect everything they went through losing Kyle has resurfaced now with Jack. I just can't even comprehend what they are dealing with right now.

Diana & Trevor will try to prepare for the Memorial tomorrow by writing down their memories of Jack. Most are funny and make you laugh. Both Trevor & Diana are doing a bit better now than earlier in the week, although they have tried to keep busy and not think too hard on it. Tomorrow at the memorial, I just expect to see a lot of tears.

Lee gets to work off his emotion by ripping up the bathroom floor today. He & Pop are installing our shower & sink/vanity today.

I have to go to work & see if our classroom is ready to clean up yet. There was construction done over the summer, and when we went in on Tuesday, there were still pipes & the toilets on the floor in our kitchen area - not ready to be cleaned yet. They were waiting on permits for electrical & plumbing. I have no clue what we're supposed to do with our medically fragile kids on Tuesday next week if our room isn't ready!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Until we meet again, Jack

On Sunday, our kids lost a very close friend. He was on the river, kayaking with his brother, and somehow drowned. Knowing Jack, he was wearing his lifejacket, because he was a kid who followed the rules. Obviously we don't know what happened, but it doesn't matter - the end result is the same. We lost Jack.

We first heard the news on Monday morning. I got a call from one of my girl scouts on the answering machine, so I called her back. I was totally blindsided. It was very hard to tell Trevor and Diana, who'd known Jack for nine years. Living in a smaller town, you tend to keep the same friends a very long time. I sent Lee and email & asked him to call home. He wound up coming home himself, because we were so upset, and Connor was feeling the effects.

Lee called our local paper to get the actual story, vs. rumors and they wound up taking a few comments from him. They also asked if we had any photos, so I emailed one from Trevor's birthday party in June. Jack was one of the three friends there. The paper decided to use that photo as well. The article is below:

  • newspaper article

    I still can't talk or write about Jack without crying. Anywhere I go, work, school, whatever, I see people that had connections to him and his family. No one can discuss him without tears. His dad is a pediatrician and his mom is on the school board. The memorial service will be very big, I think. Jack was just a great, friendly easy-going kid. I appreciated his friendship with Trevor, and his protectiveness of Diana. He was always ready to help out any way he could and would do anything you needed him to do.

    I can't imagine what his family is going through. I'm still grieving more than being able to comfort at this time. Diana & Jack had just spent a chunk of their summer doing Driver's Ed. His mom & I traded off bringing them to & from the Jr. High for 6 weeks. They rode the same bus and sat together during the regular school year.

    Diana drew a picture to show her feelings on her webcomic (link on right).

    Today was better than yesterday, and yesterday was better than Monday. Hopefully after the memorial, everyone will be able manage better emotionally. But we will never forget him.

    We miss you, Jack.

    Saturday, August 26, 2006

    The Lake

    My folks live near Lake Okanagan in Canada. It takes maybe 15-20 minutes to get to the "beach" (altho Canadians don't call it a beach). It had sand, it's a beach. Lake Okanagan is called "Canada's Hawaii" for the climate. It's nothing like Hawaii. It's a temperate zone and there are cherries, blackberries & strawberries in season in August. Heh.

    In the past, we'd go to a beach that was a bit of a hike, but less crowded than the beaches along the main drag. My folks called it the secret beach. It no longer has any amenities, since the big fire that ravaged the area a couple of years ago (my folks were evacuated for 2 weeks, but their house survived - others in their neighborhood burn to the ground). In any case, since we visited during the high tourist season, my sister made the suggestion to go to the beach after dinner. If we showed up around 6:30 to 7:00, there were still a couple of hours of daylight and the beach is pretty empty. And that's what we did.

    Connor absolutely loved it. This particular beach has an extremely shallow slope out to the deep water. Connor & Diana would swim way the heck out, yet still be able to stand. The buoys protected them from the various water sports being enjoyed further out, but on the very windy visit, it was like watching a show of sails and spray.

    Trevor spent each visit building sand castles. He is not fond of getting wet or very dirty (Connor EATS dirt), and after the first time, Trevor didn't even wear his swim trunks - just regular shorts. Diana helped with diving in the water to find Trevor the coveted black sand to decorate his castles (???). Connor just really liked the sand and water.

    My sister and her kids came along a couple of times to join us, which was always fun. My niece seemed a little bored and didn't want to swim one time, so I gave her my digital camera and told her to take some interesting shots :) She got the one of Trevor for me.

    I'm betting next time we will visit the lake again the same way. The evenings really worked well, and the kids had so much fun. It was less stressful for us as parents as well, since we didn't have to hunt to find our kids - they were the only ones in the water! Kudos to Diana for swimming with Connor so much - next time we'll get some good goggles for her.

    Wednesday, August 23, 2006

    Water Park

    About 1/2 hour from my folk's area, there's a water park called "Atlantis." We were able to get the whole family in for about $60 Canadian. There were 4 longer slides, a couple of medium slides, a rapids-style slide for which you used "donuts" (inner tubes), and then some smaller slides for the little kids. The slide with the tallest height requirement was in the kiddie area, but the pool you drop into was deeper than all the other pools. Connor had to swim the whole time. But that slide was also very wide, so people could go down together, spin, on their stomachs, whatever.

    The best part was the hot tub. There was a shallow circular pool with seating spots that was just there to warm up in. It was 105 degrees, and mostly full of the little kids with no body fat and very changeable core temperatures. It was great for the breezy day we had, after coming off the cooler slides into the wind. You could sit in the tub for 5 minutes, and dry off almost as soon as you got out. For Connor, he couldn't possibly give up slide time, so we'd have to wait until his teeth were chattering. About the 3rd time, he went on his own to the hot tub to warm up.

    There were also picnic benches with umbrellas, and the lockers they rented came with a key, so you could open and close them as needed all day before you turned in the key at the end of the day. And they allowed coolers if you wanted to bring food. There was also a concession stand. The only thing I bought was a lemonade, but it was a slushie lemonade - yummy! Of course there were changing rooms as well, plus a video arcade & gift shop.

    On the way home, Lee & I discussed what would be necessary to open a water park in our town. We have the hillsides, we have other attractions, permanent and seasonal, and we have the hot weather all summer. It could open in May, and run thru September. I guess we'd have to figure out the cost vs. benefits with insurance, employees, etc. The kids think we could already start with just a few slides, and build it up over time. Hmmm. If it were next to the Freeway so everyone driving by saw it, we'd probably have people come from as far as Ashland in the south, to Portland maybe in the north (altho they have Enchanted Village up there, but that's got more kiddie stuff or big ol' rollercoasters). And then we'd have the coast & inland areas to serve as well. And anyone wanting to take a break from driving on I-5, I suppose.

    Tuesday, August 22, 2006

    Medical differences

    My dad wound up in the hospital again while we were in Canada. He has a form of blood cancer called Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) and he's undergoing chemo. He has also had a nagging cough for the last two years. He's supposed to go home between today & Thursday, depending on how he's doing. That would make a one & a half week stay.

    Because he wound up with a fever of 103 degrees on the Sunday night while we were there, my sister & I took him to the ER. This time thru, I'm thinking because he's bald now, they were more perceptive about him being a cancer patient. In the past, he's had to sit there up to 6 hours (actually, he went out & sat in the car), even though he has a letter from his cancer doctor saying it's life-threatening with his immune system to be exposed to illness like in the ER.

    It took about 40 minutes before they moved him from a bed in the hallway into an actual room. Then they had to perform the tests on him and check his lungs. By now, the fever was gone completely though.

    This time through, the doctor on call realized that even though my dad was on antibiotics, his lungs looked worse than they had before he gone on the antibiotics. He said he wanted to keep him in the hospital and have a respirologist see him. My sister & I went home at 3:00 am.

    It took until Tuesday before my dad's regular doctor checked on him in the hospital. It took until Thursday until the cancer doctor came to see him. The respirologist finally showed up on Friday, I believe. And he didn't realize my dad was a cancer patient. Apparently they don't have charts by the beds (!?!).

    The respirologist discovered my dad has a lung fungus. Even though he's been in and out of the hospital for the last 2 years with these fevers & cough, this is the first time anyone checked for anything other than pneumonia.

    I told my sister to make a sign that says 78 white male. CLL. On (medications). Lung Fungus.

    My dad is also now getting an IV catheter that can stay in his arm for up to 3 months. That way they don't have to keep poking him every 3 or 4 days to check blood or add meds.

    And I also told my sister they should get pizza or something for the nurses. In Canada, they are not paid as well, and are really overworked. When they get upset, they go on strike. Be nice to the nurses!!

    Canada has socialized medicine. They can't afford to pay their medical people as well as they are paid in the States, so they loose a lot of their trained staff that way. This hospital, while really crowded in all the rooms being used, has a whole wing that's empty. There are no people to staff it.

    The rooms are shared, and there's no TV or phones in the rooms. This time my dad had a window, at least. And Carolyn had left a bunch of Ellery Queen magazines for him to read short stories. He didn't care for the Sudoku book I'd gotten him, but my mom & sister play it when they go to visit.

    Lee said if it was me in there, he'd figure out how to get internet connectivity and at least I could level my characters...

    Carolyn said she should have left her kids' DVD player they use in the car - but he wasn't so sick while she was there.

    My hospital stays with each of my 3 c-sections were a lot more comfortable, and the staff was less stressed, I think. Of course, I was on drugs for part of that, but even so, I think I prefer our system over socialized medicine. Then again, I have no clue how Medicare/Medicaid works, and maybe by the time I'm old enough to need it, it will be close to what Canada has now.

    In the meantime, we're all praying now that the lung fungus is being dealt with, my dad can go thru chemo and get that done without the fevers and coughing. Chemo is plenty tough on it's own. At least he should be rested up for it?

    Monday, August 21, 2006

    Border Crossings

    Make life easy. Get a passport.

    Now, officially, you don't need a passport until 2007, according to our local travel agency, if you're going to Canada or Mexico. But you do need photo ID and your original birth certificate.
    It's not so much leaving the country as it is getting back in.

    When we went to visit my folks in Canada at Christmas, we brought our photo ID's and copies of the kids' birth certificates. At that time, that was sufficient. I also have a Resident Alien card, since I'm still Canadian.

    This time around though, soon after the foiled terrorist plots with the planes from Britain, the US is being even more diligent (rightly so) about checking identification. I didn't realize we needed the original birth certificates, not just for the kids, but for all of us. We wound up spending a night in Bellingham, WA so I could coordinate with our neighbors to get into our house, sort through my mess of a filing cabinet (at least all of us have an individual file), and then they FedExed our stuff to my folks. We didn't want to cross the border without knowing they had all the documents in hand first.

    Once that was established, we were fine to go into Canada. 3 days later, we had our documents so we could head home a few days after that.

    Just so you know this wasn't overkill, once we made it to the US border (after a 50-minute wait in a long line of cars), the officer asked to see each of the kids and checked all our ID's against our photos. He verified the names on the birth certificates, and he even ran my information on the computer as he did all that. Again, we will wait however long they need us to in order to keep the nation safe. I live here, and I appreciate the diligence.

    I am in the process of getting my Canadian documents so I can renew my passport. I'll be getting the paperwork together for Lee & the kids this week as well.

    It's a shame the media has been so disappointed - first, nothing got blown up for them (aw!) and then, no one is even getting mad about the "hassles" of travelling. I feel so sorry for them - NOT!

    Sunday, August 20, 2006

    Back from Vacation

    We went to Canada for a week to visit my folks and sister + kids. We had a great time & got to do & see things we hadn't before. The bad part was my dad got sick & wound up in the hospital again. Good news is they finally figured out what's been bothering him for the last two years (more on that in a different post).

    I will download photos and post more later, but today is my 18th Anniversary & Diana's 16th birthday, so I'm kind of busy.


    Tuesday, August 08, 2006

    Up Early

    Lee accidentally knocked over a fan in our room this morning around 5:30. I don't usually get up until 7:00. I had already gotten up to let the dog out, since she was making noises (and then she didn't even need to go - she was just lonely!). So, after trying to fall asleep again, I just gave up and got a cup of coffee.

    I have enough to do today anyway. We're getting ready to leave on our little visit to Canada, and I have a ton of stuff to take care of before we go with setting up the house & all. Diana's happy she got someone to cover her paper route after asking 6 friends that couldn't do it!

    Tomorrow we'll go to the fair, so I need most of the trip stuff done today. I'm still waffling about what to do with the apples. The tree still has a bunch on it, and I'd love to make pie filling or applesauce or something. I wonder if I let it cook on the stove all day, I'd still have time to can it tonight? I really liked the applesauce too, and if I use the stove instead of the microwave, I should be able to get a bigger batch... Maybe if most of the other stuff is done by the afternoon. And it doesn't get too hot - altho I have a burner I could plug in outside, I'm not sure where to set that up so no one knocks THAT over - what a mess that would be!

    My van is in the shop today as well. We got it in January, and when I drove it there was sometimes a little hesitation that I'd felt before with the other van that wound up being a sparkplug issue, so I wanted them to check that this time. Turns out someone jammed a sparkplug in, and they were working on it all afternoon yesterday trying to get that one out. I'm thinking I was right about there being a sparkplug problem. And the passenger side window stopped working completely a little while ago, so they need to fix that too. Hopefully the van will be done today, altho we could still get away with it being worked on tomorrow. We take the free busses around town to get to the fair anyway. I would rather not walk downtown with Connor tho - not so much for going, but for coming home.

    At least I finished sewing my mom's present. I won't say what it is here, just in case she checks the blog :P

    And I should try to get a bike ride in today as well. And we need to eat the cucumbers our neighbor dropped by before we go...

    I guess I should stop blogging & get busy, eh?


    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    A Quote

    A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.
    -Herm Albright