Archive of ‘vacation’ category

Rain dancing.

“Life isn’t about surviving the storm. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” -Unknown author

Mother’s Day 2017 was yesterday.  My mama stopped by and gave me a bracelet with that quote on it. 

Rain dancing.

We’re not touristy at all. (after hospital stay)

I didn’t realize until I read the bracelet that I have gotten pretty good at rain dancing.  I know that in general I am a glass half full person.  It is just who I am.  I can’t dwell on the difficult or the Hard for too long. Sometimes that isn’t the healthiest choice but I’m working on it.

One of the last photos I took before the accident.

Sometimes it catches up to me.

Sometimes I watch others get frustrated, angry, sad, infuriated; and I feel myself get frustrated because when do I get a turn to feel that way? But that is my choice. I am trying to learn to allow some anger, some sadness, some frustration into my emotional arsenal. 

But rain dancing. That I can do.

But I don’t realize I am doing it until later.

In front of a volcanic crater lake. NBD.

So we went to Iceland. My outdoorsy, mountain loving, traffic hating, lovable hunk of a husband talked me into a week long trip in the most sparsely populated country in Europe.  And I was so glad, and continue to be glad that we went.  #icelandisstillnice

For the ten of you who read my blog who aren’t family and friends- here is a brief synopsis of what happened on Day 5 of our trip.

We had reservations to take an one hour horse back tour with a guide across the countryside of Iceland.  Our son receives hippotherapy twice a month and I have always loved horses.  Todd had never ridden and knew it would be special for me so we booked it.  We dressed in these huge rubber trousers that were similar to what fireman wear, and we set off on our beautiful thick-coated horses with our young but experienced guide.  About 5 min into the trip, we both commented how well trained the horses were, how easy they were to ride, and how much fun it was.  We all stayed in a nice line – the guide, then me, then Todd.  The guide asked if we minded doing a slight trot with the horses and of course we said sure, so we trotted a bit.  It was fun but when we slowed down, I could feel a difference in my horse.

He wanted to keep trotting. He was very close to the guide’s horse and if I tried to pull the reins back, he tussled a bit with me.  We stopped to take pictures and then my horse started walking off to the side a bit. I tried to lead him back over, and for a split second it seemed like he was going to obey but then something just changed.

No loud sounds, no strange movements by me, the horse just started to run.  My first instinct was not to use a calming voice like she had suggested because of course I was startled and frightened. But then I remembered and I tried to use the techniques she suggested.

Terribly unflattering photo of my first time sitting up in a chair at the hospital

He wasn’t having it.

He took off like a shot and the rest is history.

History that changed me.

History that brought on more rain dancing.

What followed was a six night hospital stay at one of the two hospitals in Iceland, in the beautiful town of Akureyi.

I received/suffered/endured (not sure what the right wording is) five fractured ribs, a punctured lung with a pneumothorax, and a broken sacrum.

Five broken bones that cannot be put in casts. Cannot be set. And the sacral bone is what I make contact with, every time I sit down. 

View from my hospital room

It was scary. I’m not gonna lie. Lying on the ground after being thrown from the horse, coughing up blood. I couldn’t turn either way because my broken bones are on opposite sides of my body.

It was scary. 

But I knew I would be okay. Something kept me calm. Something told me that it wasn’t going to be fun, but it was going to be okay.

The handsome Icelandic EMTs who sat with me in the ambulance, telling me how much time was left until we got the hospital, they told me it would be okay.

The nurses who greeted me, who sat beside me in the ER while they tried to figure out what was broken, and how serious everything was. They kept me calm. They talked to me like everything was okay.

They know how to rain dance.

Helga, the young nurse from a nearby town in Iceland who had attended nursing school in Chicago. She gave me a foot massage and chatted with me about every day things, just to keep my mind off the pain.  She helped me brush my teeth and wash my face myself for the first time after being hurt.

She knows how to rain dance.

Skyping from far far away…

“Take a car ride to Iceland?” said Evan one night when we Skyped. My heart broke but there was also a part of me that felt such joy that my little guy missed me so much and wanted us home. We have worked so hard on keeping him engaged and connected to us- and he really missed his Mommy and Daddy. 

It was very hard to dance in the rain when I thought about my kids from my hospital bed- but my friends and loved ones kept texting, emailing, calling, sending cute little videos so I could hear their voice and see their smiling face. (I’m looking at you Talia!) In times of strife, you really do realize the love and light in your life. 

And then we finally came home. After a 5 hour car ride to Reykjavik and a six hour flight home, we came home to a clean home, and sleeping, very loved on children. Thank you Mimi, Pappy, Gran, and GrandRich!

Chilling with my girl

For the past 2.5 weeks, I have been setting up shop in my bed, regularly icing my fractures, trying to stay comfortable, and walking around when I can.  I went from a wheelchair to a standing high walker, to crutches, to a slight limp.

Rain dancing was really hard the first week I was home when I couldn’t sleep because the pain was so intense. When I had to get an elevated toilet seat because I couldn’t bend over at all. When my son only wanted to climb on my lap and no one else’s so his behavior became erratic and he acted out. 

But somehow we got through it. And one day I looked to my left and both kids were in bed with me. Melody in the crook of my arm and Evan lying next to her.  He looked up at me and said, “Hi mommy! Can I go in Mommy and Daddy’s room? Can I cuddle you?”

He asks questions that he already knows the answer to as a way to communicate and stay engaged with me.

It hit me all at once. Without realizing it, I had been enjoying my time with both kids immensely. Take out the responsibility of keeping up with housework, teaching, and all that was left was a focus on my recovery and the time spent with family.  I felt guilty that I couldn’t do the dishes or walk down the basement steps to do the laundry. I hated not being able to take the kids were they needed to be.

Enter rain dancing.

All that was expected of me was a focus on my healing and when I felt well enough to sit with the kids in bed- this awesome thing happened. They both figured out ways to spend time with me in bed.

Evan reading with his head in my lap (ribs protected by a pillow)

Mother’s Day music time

Just last night, Melody snuggled up next to Evan and just said to herself, “I love you, Evan.” and closed her eyes and smiled. 

Those moments are hard to catch when I am caught up in cleaning up after the kids at night, making lunches, laundry, and my mind is 153 different places.

I want to remember this.

I want to remember what it feels like to just focus on family. Just focus on the kids, my husband, my mom.  Whomever is with me at the time.

I know that will become difficult all over again when I go back to work in a few weeks and more responsibility is back on my shoulders. But I do hope that I can remember what it felt like to dance through the raindrops these past few weeks.


after writing this earlier today- Evan had a seizure, after having one last night. He had four in one day last week.  I felt myself tense up all over. The worry is back, the concern over if we are medicating him correctly. The neurologist is talking about more aggressive meds, new tests….

Rain dancing is really really hard when these things crop up.

Just being real.

But tonight Evan put his head on my stomach and listened to the digestive sounds it was making and we had a huge laugh about it. I used to do that with my mom growing up, and it cracked me up. He likes to play with the word and pretend to say the ch sound at the end so he kept giggling and saying, “stomach (with the ch digraph sound)” and then “how are you?” with a big grin on his face.

I’m going to think about the stom-itch sounds instead of the seizures.

At least for a little while.



Photo Dump

I am in the process of writing up an entry that is really special to me, but I really need to concentrate on it, and tonight I am heavy lidded. Thus…I thought it was time for a photo dump.  Some of these pictures are on Facebook, but not all our readers are on FB so I thought it would be nice to include them there. We just got a new lens for our camera so a few of these at the bottom were practice shots Todd took using the new lens.  We have a lot to learn, but already I can see the difference in the quality. 

Grammy (possibly turning into Mimi) and Evan cuddling in the Smokies

Yup, we are. But only for the picture.

Daddy and Evan outside of Louisville Slugger Field

On one of our hikes. I can see another glimpse into the future in this picture.

My amazing in laws relaxing in the Smokies

I just adore this.

During yet another hike

The whole crew

This is what happens when you stroller hike

Senior portrait, no?
Amazing in the car

Date night

Pool play date with the Posts

Getting taught about the Ipad

Wild Eagle roller coaster. Making Pop Pop proud

Cuddling with Pappy at the baseball game

Those eyes are my weakness. Or my strength.

Playing with his best friend Zoey
Seriously, ANOTHER high chair picture?

Five Rabbit Hops

Hi folks. I apologize for the length of time in between blogs lately.  I imagine it will not get much better when I go back to work, but I will try my best, because this here blog is good for me and it also is a nice place to preserve memories.
Anyhoo, today is June 11.  I didn’t even want to write this last night and post it today because it just didn’t seem right.  Three years ago today, my father passed away. Not from a fighting a long battle with a disease, not from an inherited condition. Suddenly and out of nowhere his heart gave up on him.  And as many others who have also dealt with a major loss, I look at life now as before my Dad died and after.  It’s weird how that happens but it just did. The significance his passing has had in my life is monumental. But what I want to focus this entry on is not his passing- because I am having a hard enough time not thinking of that afternoon and all the horrid details. Instead, I want to focus on the significance of his LIFE on me. Because clearly I miss him as much as I do, because of the time we spent together when he was here.

Traveling Exhibit in Dollywood

Last week we went on a whirlwind vacation. First to Kentucky to participate in the research study at University of Louisville. Then to the Smoky Mountains in Tennesee for family vacation with my in laws. THEN to North Carolina to catch up with old friends from liberti and to meet some new (only in person) friends who I have been anxious to meet for some time.  My Dad was on my mind constantly.  It was strange how much he popped into my head.  Not to say that I don’t think of him often, because I do, but this was almost every day, multiple times a day.  I would think of how he would love whatever activity we were doing. I would think how he would totally love what Evan was doing at the time. I would think how we would spend hours in the car together on our roller coaster adventures and we would record ourselves rating the roller coasters.  He called me Electric Erin and he was “Rollo” Robert.  We would rate them by “rabbit hops” (what the fun, quick up and down hops on a roller coaster are called). I think the scale was 1 through 5 rabbit hops. Of course, with a rating of 5 being an amazing roller coaster!
 I thought of him most when we were in Dollywood, a sprawling amusement park in Pigeon Forge, TN. We saw a sign for the Roller Coaster Museum and I knew I had to go in.  My mind was flooded with memories as I walked around and looked at the pictures, articles, and memorabilia. I walked around with my mother and father in law and they kindly asked questions and listened to me as I pointed over and over saying things like, “We went there!” “Oh my goodness, I remember that one!” “Dad I rode that one in the pouring rain!” or “We stayed in the craziest place when we went to that park.” There was one display that I wish I had taken a picture of- it had all the collectibles of an ACE member. ACE stands for American Coaster Enthusiasts. If you already know about that club, it is probably because you are a family member or friend reading this. It’s not a household name for sure. But we were members. When I was 11 years old I believe, I was a member. I had several tee shirts with the insignia on it. My father and my stepmother had silk screened jackets.

Debbie and my Dad doing what they loved.

When I came out of the exhibit, I felt lighter somehow, and so excited to tell Todd (who was sitting with Evan outside). As I rambled on about different things I saw, and their significance to me, it made me realize how important it is to write down as much as I can remember.  As time passes, memories fade. As much as I absolutely hate to admit it, the older I get, and the more time passes since an experience, the memory of that experience becomes dimmer and dimmer. And I refuse to lose the amazing memories I have of my dad.  I have the ability to enjoy life and live it with the people I am blessed to still have in my life. But I do not have that luxury with my father- so I need to preserve what memories I still have in my grasp.
 Here is a link to a lovely article written about my dad in lieu of an obituary.

Electric Erin here, coming to you live from the Putman dining room. I give the life of my father, Mr. Robert F Gaynor, otherwise known as Bobby G- Five Rabbit Hops, hands down.  You heard that right folks. Electric Erin, signing off.

What did we do to deserve this?

Evan and Andrew (in typical early fashion- October 2011)

When Evan was about 3 or 4 months old, I had a friend watch him for an hour while I went to counseling.  She lived near to the counselor at the time and her son is ten weeks older than Evan. This was pre-diagnosis, and I was in an anxious, exhausted, frustrated, new mom state.  Evan was a horrible sleeper, waking up numerous times a night, and crying for hours in the evening.  When he was happy, he was happy but the times he wasn’t…phew.  I thought the hour would be doable, and the kids weren’t mobile so they would just happily roll around on a mat, right?
Well, I return to a very apologetic and frazzled friend who was trying to be a good friend and not  make a big deal about it, but basically, Evan cried the whole time and made her son cry as well.  Sigh…Todd came by afterwards and we had dinner with their family.  On the way home, we both said, almost at the same time, “When is Evan going to be as pleasant as Andrew?” Andrew smiled almost the whole time we were there, barely any tears, and was just happy to be alive and hanging out with us.  It seemed like Evan was going to “crank” as we called it, at any minute, for the rest of his and our lives.

Fast forward to this weekend, Evan is now almost 2 years old.  We made the very bold decision to take him overnight tent camping.  Todd has been ready for this for a while now, and I have been pushing it off.  I was worried for numerous reasons, the biggest one being the sleeping situation. I just couldn’t imagine how Evan would do in a tent, and how we would do sleeping right next to him in said tent!  Let alone the possibilities of bears, bugs, lack of nap, constant need to entertain, etc.
Let me also share that we decided to take him kayaking. Kayaking for an indeterminate amount of time, approximately an hour or more, with no real ability to stop if he is not handling it too well.
And this we HAVE done before, and he has not been a very big fan.  Did I mention that all week we were preparing for warm weather with sunshine? And Mommy and Daddy did not bring rain gear? And that it poured the entire time we kayaked? Ahem…..Live and learn.

Shake Shake Shake, Shake your maraca!

So….we drove the two+ hours to get to the campground. We put Evan in a stroller and start setting up camp. His Grammy rolled him around and he was content as a clam to talk to her and look around. We then put him in his portable high chair and put it in one of the camp chairs, and it sat in a precarious way that made him tilt backwards a bit. As I put him in and started to feed him lunch, I thought there was no way he would last more than ten minutes in this position. About an hour later, after he ate a whole jar of stage three food, and a Jammy Sammy, sang songs and played with his new maracas straight from Mexico (thanks Seese Family!)- THEN he was ready to get out of the chair. Ok I was wrong. Only once, right? Moving along….

Kayaking as a family in Delaware Water Gap- Evan just shy of 2 years

Then we go kayaking. Luckily my mother and father in law are seriously sent from Heaven and they lent Evan and me some stellar rain gear. Within the first 20 minutes or so, Evan wiggled around, going between happy and singing, and then uncomfortable and sleepy. Oh, I forgot to mention that he had been up since about 7 am, and it was 2 pm now, no nap, pouring rain, in….a…..kayak. I sang songs to him ad nauseaum, fed him a cereal bar, and kept him as occupied as I could. The rain started coming down hard and he tried over and over to fall asleep on my shoulder. Alas, two life jackets pushing together in pouring rain does not a comfortable bed make.  Although my nerves were a bit on edge as I maneuvered him all around and poor Todd had to paddle for all three of us- it ended up being a pretty nice ride, and Evan kept calm for the majority of it.
Because of the rain jacket that was so kindly lent to us by my in laws- Evan only had a few little spots of water on his pants when we got out of the kayak. Oh!!! I forgot to mention that about halfway into the kayak excursion, he had a dirty diaper. And not a little one. A three alarmer, multiple wipe diaper. Where were the diapers and wipes? Oh they were in the van back at where we started. So when we got out of the kayak, Todd had to drive back to get the van and drive back to us so I could change the poor guy.  Again, bad planning on our part. Evan could have cared less. (until his poor bum hurt the next day- Guilt Guilt Guilt….

My adorable husband playing for little E
That’s right, he’s wearing a faux backpack.
Reading Baby Boo for the 3,945th time.

 We finally get back to the campsite, we pass Evan around while each of us get out of our wet clothes.  The ground is sopping wet with mud and Evan doesn’t walk on his own yet, so we couldn’t just put him down and let him crawl around.  Especially considering there is no “bath-time” when tent camping. Enter the pack-and-play. We put some fun toys and books in there and put it right next to the action, where everyone was hanging out, eating, and talking.  He stood up and talked to whoever would talk to him. (yup, I did look up whether or not to use whomever or whoever in that sentence) He sang songs, played with his toys and read his peekaboo baby book over and over. He also played peekaboo up and down the side of the pack and play repeatedly with his Aunt Rhonda.

Reading with Grammy by the fire

It began to get chilly so we put him in flannel pj’s and his winter bear suit that he wore when it got really cold. It was the only way to ensure that he would be warm when he went to sleep since I forgot his weighted blanket at home. (Are you sensing a Mommy Fail trend here?)  We put him to sleep in the tent around 8:30 pm and he fell asleep in about 30 minutes. With the noise of bugs, fellow campers, a cub scout troop two sites down, a wedding reception across the water blasting out typical reception fare such as Psy’s Gangnam Style, and Beyonce’s Crazy in Love….Evan fell asleep and slept until 6 am.
6 am.
9 hours.
I probably slept about 4 total.

Over and over again, Evan proves my doubts to be wrong. He takes my worries and removes their weight. He looks up at me with that grin, and immediately grounds me.  And I have feeling he will continue to do that for the rest of my life.  I pray that he does.

What did we do to deserve this? 

Evan Robert almost 2 years

OBX 2011-What an amazing time!

“Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. ” ~From the television show The Wonder Years
 We went on vacation with my mother and father-in-law, my sister and brother-in-law, and their two boys recently.  They went to the Outer Banks last September and invited us but we were unable to go because I was working and taking a week off from teaching in Sept is unheard of. 🙂 So of course, with taking time off to take care of Evan in his first year, we were able to join them and go in the third week of September- when it is off season.  What a wonderful, wonderful time to go!  I am going to continue this post with pictures instead of words because they tell the story much better! They are in no particular order, enjoy! 
The group at the Wright Brothers Memorial

Evan in his tent after his first ocean experience

Aunt Carolyn who met Evan for the first time on this trip!

Doing raspberries for the first time on cue!

Getting loving from Daddy

The beautiful Currituck Lighthouse, only about 10 min or so from our house

At a mini golf (putt-putt as Todd calls it) course on our date night

Where we ate on our date night

Evan in the pool for the second time

Rod and Sara (Pappy and Grommel to Evan), the two best in laws a girl could EVER ask for

The awesome pool at our house

All the ladies at the beach. (I know I need to address those tan lines)

The Seese Family

Our nephews, Connor (l) and Carson (r)

The pool tournament faceoff- Father and Son

Family shot at lunch at the Black Pelican

Evan faced with a LOT of distractions during dinner
One of the many sand crabs on the beach. I caught one aftter Todd and I did a lot of running around trying.