Monday, January 2, 2017

Beginning the New Year

On our way in



Ian with his beginning pile
We spent the day on an easy hike in a place called Sun Valley. The temperature ranged from zero to five degrees, the sun was shining (but not hot at all!), and the sky was bright blue ~ my favorite looking day. I had a new day pack to try out (Thanks, Ken) and the boys had new fire starter metal thingies to try out (Thanks, Dad). After walking for a few hours, we arrived at a lake, dropped our backpacks, and gathered material for a fire: first moss, then twigs, sticks, branches, and finally logs. It took longer than I like to get it to catch with the scrapings, but it worked!

Success!


Hard to capture just how high he was.
Happy Joseph
 Not much feels as good as a fire in the woods when it's zero degrees! We kept them going for about an hour and had some snacks. Ian thought it would be a good idea to climb trees and question my mothering rules. Some of us (Clare and I, actually) stayed by the heat and toasted ourselves front to back. Luke, Joseph, and Addie took it upon themselves to rove about and pick up sticks to toss on the fire. Good job. It began to darken on the hike out and the temp dropped to a few degrees below zero but we felt good from the fire and food.

Facebook tells me that we hiked on New Year's Day last year as well. I guess it's a tradition now. Excellent. No phone service; no internet; no toys. Just us in Alaska. Perfect.


She walked the whole thing.
Then, just as we were settling down and getting cozy at home, I received a text from Rees: Hey Mom, do you, Clare, and Ian want to meet me at the theater to see Rogue 1? So I put my smoky-smelling hair into a bun (Hey, it's Alaska) and out we went again. What a perfect day. The only dark spot was missing John, but he told us that he's doing fine and enjoying Christmas and New Year's pretty well with USO organized field trips (Field trip isn't the correct term, but that's what it sounds like to me). So it's OK.


Big breaths into 2017 and love from the Howells.



P.S. ~ I feel that I should share what happened to a baby of ours. It took me a long time to write.



Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Familiar Sadness

Morningtime neb with the mouthpiece
Something happened last night that hasn't happened in many years: Addie fell asleep in my arms breathing TOBI and I was overwhelmed with sadness. I recognized it of course, but had not felt it for a long time. Watching her peaceful face covered in a plastic mask while smoky medication swirled around her stirred up an old panic of hopelessness. She was sleeping safely in my arms, but not really safe. She doesn't know.

With Rees, who is an adult, I fight fear (because I'm so happy he's OK but afraid of the years) and occasional anger (because I wish he would sleep more, exercise more, and do his flutter valve more!).

I have hardened myself over these 22 years and simply do not allow sadness to wash over me. I imagine I'm seen as cold by friends when I'm not as supportive in their sadnesses as I should be. I usually think of ways to be better afterward, when it's too late. I'm sorry about that. Love. Hardness. Sadness. Me.


Another night with the fish mask
Since TOBI is administered twice a day for 28 days, Ken has hooked her up many evenings and read books while she breathed it in. He also told me one night that he felt a long-buried sadness. I wonder if his sharing that made a tiny unconscious chink in my armor and my emotions grabbed the chance to flood my heart when she fell asleep on me. I know it's good to feel the feelings sometimes (I'm not that cold!).


So that's it, dear friends. This is just a sharing of Something That Happened to an old CF mom with another little one. We're in this together. We must allow the feelings, recognize them, own them -- then get up and grab a book or DVD for clapping and TOBI or make lunch before playing outside or get out a new puzzle to work on while in the hospital. We've got today to love and be loved!


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Dear Thanksgiving Moms

When you're shopping for Thanksgiving and see a lady with powdered potatoes and gravy packets, please don't roll your eyes and think she's doesn't know how to cook. She may be very tired from getting up in the wee hours to attach IV tubing to her kid's central line, waiting an hour while it runs, and flushing the line with saline and heparin. Then beginning again seven hours later. Then seven hours later.

When you see a lady with canned cranberry sauce and packaged rolls, please don't assume she doesn't appreciate real food. Her mind may be gripped with worry over her child's lack of appetite and digestion problems, charting every bite and potty visit. Or lack thereof.

When you see a lady with bakery pies and a tub of pumpkin ice cream, please don't imagine she doesn't know that homemade is cheaper. She may be putting it all on a credit card to have something for her family that doesn't require the time and attention she simply does not have.

She loves her family. She wants a decent Thanksgiving. She's worried and tired, though; and sometimes modern grocery conveniences and credit cards are precious. It's the best she can do this year.

Love, Allison

Monday, November 21, 2016

Swing dancing at the state fair



Rees and his partner are on the far right.

Recorded by my 9 year old.

Lots of fun!

Stopping by Hallways on a Messy Afternoon

An actual picture from Sunday morning



Whose shoes these are I think I know.
Their minds are lost in childhood though;
They will not hear me calling names
Or care that I pick up and go.

My little dogs must think it queer
To see me stand and wipe a tear
Between the door and dirty hall
This messy season of the year.

They frown and give their heads a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the din
That happy children playing make.

This house is cluttered, small and sweet
But I have promises to keep ~
And miles to love before I sleep
And miles to love before I sleep.


(My apologies and affection to Robert Frost!)
Love, Allison

Monday, August 22, 2016

It's Been a While

It's been over three months since my last post. What in the world?

John is now home from basic training and loved it. Ken and Clare had a wonderful graduation weekend with him, visiting the San Antonio zoo, screaming through a haunted house, and strolling along the River Walk. John misses being there and can't wait to return to Texas for tech school in mid-October. He's a great airman, telling me that he's been complimented several times on his excellent military bearing during drill weekends. Of course he is.

I've had some weird health issues and wrote about it for my latest Catholic Sistas post.



And Clare's Panea dog died last Wednesday. We knew it was coming and asked John to carry her downstairs and onto the porch. She breathed her last in the sunshine, with her girl's hands resting on her head and side. Ken came home early and while we waited for him, everyone colored pictures, wrote notes, collected treasures, and painted rocks for her grave. Clare chose a small clearing in the spruce trees. We call it "Panea's Cove" now. She was such a perfect dog, we will be looking for an older dog again. She was eleven.

We're all anxiously awaiting six boxes to arrive in the mail, this year's School Stuff. Addie, Joseph, Luke, and Ian will begin working through material from Memoria Press (Halleluia for a state that reimburses for educational expenses!), and going off on any rabbit trails they like

Clare and our contact teacher have patched together her first year of high school, from Memoria Press, Saxon Math, and classes in drawing and theater from ND Center for Distance Education. I'm certainly excited, but I loved schoolwork and grades; not sure about this free-spirited girl. We'll do our best.




We had a great family camping trip north to Byers Lake. The bit of rain we had wasn't much of a problem, as Clare and Ian had their copies of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and happily holed up in the tents to read. The fishing stunk but the hiking was super.



Caribou and bear hunting season is upon us and Ken will be heading out most weekends for the next month or so. I love our bear-hunt mountain and will pencil myself in to tag along on a Normal Knee weekend! Really hoping for meat to carry us through the winter.

Addie (four years old) will complete the Optimize drug study next month and I can't help but think she had the antibiotic and not placebo, for she has had no extra illnesses this past year. Her doctor will have to decide to prescribe the actual drug or let it go and see what happens. She continues to cheerfully grow along the 30th percentile weight for height. Sweet petite!

Rees is awesome. He'll be ending out his summer internship with Fish and Game with five college credits and money in the bank before moving back to part time work and full time college classes.

The leaves are already yellowing and falling and it smells wonderful outside. Autumn is upon us!

Happy days to all;
Love, Allison







Tuesday, May 10, 2016

My John

 18th birthday, almost a year ago.
I folded a few of John's T shirts early this morning -- Joe Cool, Colonel Sanders, and Iron Man. He won't be needing them for two months because he left in the middle of the night for Lackland Air Force Base in Texas for basic training. I cried while folding of course. I'll add them to Rees' pile and hope he puts them away nicely for his brother. Both of the big boys and Ken don't really like it when I fold their clothes. Don't do that, Mom; we can. Don't do that, Honey; they should. And I know; I know. But folding clothes in the very early morning with a cup of (now) decaf is an odd pleasure of mine. It gets something tangible done while I'm able to think about whatever my mind wants. The only interruptions are from my own brain's thoughts flitting here and there and I like it.

About 18 months, always with Rees

This morning I thought about John. About how cute he was and how handsome he is. About how ready he is for this tough adventure and good plan. About how old and strong he looked last night saying goodbye to his little brothers and sisters and about how I noticed a flicker of nervousness while he explained to Ken about how the airport in San Antonio has an Air Force desk because there are so many recruits passing through and he'll just need to get to that desk and they'll put him on a bus.

When I hugged him goodbye, I told him that I wasn't worried about his "making it" ~ he's been itching to go since February ~ but that I would miss him terribly. We gave him a replica of a WW1 Rosary, the kind handed out to Catholics by the US government back then (Imagine that!), and the Combat Prayer Book, a tiny book, easily slipped into one of the many arm pockets. But not during boot camp, he tells me. That's OK. Someday he'll want it and he'll have it.

About 12; shot a grouse.
It's bearable because he'll be back in mid-July (Until they send him away again for Tech school, but I won't think about that yet.). Ken warns me that he will be changed when he returns. Just typing that sentence makes me drip tears on my keyboard. It's good, though. I'm happy for him. He needs to do something that is Just John. He has always been with Rees, making what breaks he could. Doesn't like hiking; doesn't like country music; doesn't like to read. I imagine they will miss each other terribly, anyway.


.
 He tells me to wait two weeks, then call a number on a paper he gave me (Good Lord, I'm awful about keeping track of papers.) and they will tell me where to send letters. He also tells me that he may not get to read them or write back if he gets in trouble. Lovely. So I will busy myself with writing to him and helping Clare pick out a Million Degrees Hot Texas wardrobe, for she and Ken will fly to San Antonio for his graduation. She's never been out of Alaska; never even been on an airplane. It's a trip of a lifetime and I will love picking out clothes with her!

So my John is gone. But he's all right. And I suppose I am.
St. Michael, the archangel, pray for him please.