Category Archives: Family

How My Family Survived a 3 Wheelchair Night

#1: The Boy

Early in the evening we got a call from our local Kids Night Out program that Reed had crashed into metal bleachers while playing indoor tag. He had a gash on his leg that should be looked at.

Roger and I cut our Date Night short to pick up the kids and their friends, return the friends to their homes, and head to a children’s emergency room.

Reed entered — and later exited — in a wheelchair.


Though in pain, Reed mostly remained his jovial self from the time we retrieved him until the time the doctor said he would need stitches. That declaration broke Reed’s resolve and a full-on panic attack ensued.

holding hands
Reed is comforted by Tessa

First came the numbing gel. Thirty minutes later he was administered nasal versed, which made Reed amusingly loopy (This bed? It’s my best friend!). Finally, he was ready for irrigation and repair.

Roger, allowing his wimpy wife an out, took front-and-center position to hold Reed’s hands and gaze during the procedure.  Our curious Tessa was eager to watch. That left me in the background, avoiding eye contact with all things crimson.

#2: The Girl

The next step in anesthesia involved a long needle, presumably to be administered directly into the wound (I wouldn’t know). Tessa, who likes to observe as people get shots and IVs, fixed her eyes.

And then got light-headed. I was standing next to her and was able to stop her from falling by pressing her toward a wall, guiding her gently to the floor. A nurse helped me get Tessa into what had been, an hour before, Reed’s wheelchair.

The nurse got the two of us situated in the next room. Tessa was given crackers and juice and a wet cloth for her sweaty forehead. We began to breathe together to calm her body down.

And then…from the next room, we heard, “I NEED SOME HELP IN HERE!!”


In a flash and of my own making, I became part of an ER episode, certain that Reed had gone into cardiac arrest just a wall away. I was convinced the doc was calling for a crash cart.

Tessa leapt out of bed and we both bolted into the hallway where several nurses were hustling. I peeked into Reed’s room with a vise around my throat.

I didn’t expect to see what I saw.

#3: The Surprise

In a heap on the floor at the head of my son’s bed were my husband’s legs. He had crumbled to the floor, hitting his head on the same wall that my daughter had slid down 5 minutes previously.

Roger had been holding the hands of Loopy Reed, who kept wanting to “help” the doc with the stitches. Why are my legs allllll the way down theeeeere? — he’d ask and point with his whole arm. Roger was charged with keeping Reed’s hands out of the doctor’s way. Having never been squeamish, Roger watched as the doctor probed her finger deep into the wound — into his son’s muscle — to  fish out any debris.

Loopy Reed helping with his stitches
Loopy Reed reaching for his stitches

That scene, along with the fact that Roger had come down with a cold the day before, was enough to vasovagal  him. Moments later — you guessed it — Roger was occupying the family wheelchair.

With ice on his head and an oxygen mask on his face.

I started to laugh at how comical our calm date night had become. I didn’t know where to focus, how to be present for each of my downed comrades. I checked in first with Reed (still loopy, almost all stitched and bandaged), then with Tessa (over her own spell and now concerned about her dad), then with Roger (my dear sweet man, coming back to us and a bit mystified that this had happened).

I remained upright and eventually was able to drive us all home, starting with Reed’s wheelchair ride to the elevator.

boy in wheelchair

And yes, it has occurred to us that our date nights may be cursed.

Perfect Moment Monday: Light of Mine

I once said,

light of the worldWith awareness, one could have a perfect moment shackled in a dungeon sitting in one’s own excrement; without it, blessings galore cannot compensate.

I still believe that. Despite winning the parental jackpot, despite being blessed with amazing sisters who make me laugh and give good counsel, despite being healthy and sheltered and sharing a home with a loving husband and 2.2 kids (I can say that now that Dexter is here), despite having a passel of fabulous friends and despite having a relatively cushy life compared to 99% of the humans who have ever existed, recently I have had trouble finding perfect moments. Last month I couldn’t even deliver one, and I’m the goldarned host of this bloghop.

I had more than a little anxiety that my dry spell would not end in time for December’s Perfect Moment Monday. But late in the month I relaxed and began again to notice what I have instead of angsting over my troubles.

I am not a big fan of Christmas, at least not like I was as a child. I no longer share the religious sentiment, and I have come to detest the consumerism the holiday represents. The buildup that now begins at Halloween has made my children practically vibrate with expectations that can’t possibly be met. Their anxiety makes me feel unsettled and cranky.

I had vowed, after our extended family dinner, that our part of the family would not to join the others in attending the 10 pm Christmas Eve service at the church I grew up in. But after my children pleaded plaintively for two more hours with their cousins, I reconsidered.

We took up two pews, my parents and sisters and our children, plus my beloved aunt and uncle. Some details of the church experience remained the same as they were during my childhood: the poinsettias at the altar, the order of the service, the antsy-ness of the children — but this time I was the adult, the shusher rather than the shushee.

Some details were different: the pastor and the cantor are now younger than I am, I didn’t recognize any other congregants beyond our two pews, and the communion bread now looks a lot like pita pockets.

The songs were the familiar Christmas hymns I know by heart, even into the second and third verses. During O Come All Ye Faithful, I looked to my left over the heads of my family members and saw the message:

love home peace joy

Peace | Joy | Love | Hope

I felt a perfect moment creeping up on me. The wave began to overtake me, an upwelling of emotion building in my chest and threatening to let flow tears of bliss. I remained in that state until the capper.

Always, the Christmas service’s final hymn, the one we sing as we darken the church and relight it candle by candle, is Silent Night. Mine is a family of singers. Remember this story about my dad? And this video featuring my sisters? My aunt, once a musical theater star, disc jockey and music teacher, has a crystal clear and pitch-perfect voice.

Behind me, around me, within me, our voices — 15 of them — intertwined with each other in exquisite resonance as the shadows gave way to light. I was enveloped by vibrations of love and joy emanating from my family members, three generations of us. Our voices rose in delight for the season, the joy of being together and the awareness that we were making this once-in-a-lifetime memory.

I noticed it!

(And no excrement was necessary.)


A happy moment will seed ten thousand more.Notes from the Universe.

Which explains why it’s in my interest (and yours) to notice perfect moments.


Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between. On the last Monday of each month we engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join. To participate in Perfect Moment Monday:

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  • Write up your own Perfect Moment and post it on your blog (or other site).
  • Use LinkyTools below to enter your name (or blog name), the URL of your Perfect Moment post, and a thumbnail image if desired.
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With your Perfect Moment post , you may place this button on your blog (in the post, on the sidebar, or both).What Perfect Moment have you recently been aware of?

We’ve Added to Our Family

You know how you don’t even notice entire sections of the grocery store, or you ignore entire topics of conversation or entire swaths of cultural celebrations? How you can practically not even know where the meat section is if you’re a vegetarian, how you tune out talk about diapers if you don’t have young children, how you don’t even see that Christmas tree-selling lot on the corner because you don’t celebrate Christmas?

Since before we met, neither my husband nor I considered ourselves dog people. We couldn’t be bothered with mess, fuss, dander, smell, or any curtailing of our free-wheeling ways. Once we had kids, we re-confirmed that there was no way we would want to invite more chaos into our lives (where is a fuddy-duddy emoticon when you need one?)

And now we have discovered the pet section at Target.

Somewhat related to my last post, last weekend we welcomed Dexter to our family. Allow me to introduce him.


Sorry for the blur. He’s not a puppy (the shelter says he’s over 2 years old) but he’s quite active and would rather lick me than let me take his picture.

In spite of the firm parental stance, Tessa and Reed have been lobbying for a dog for years. The answer, even more solid than during our pre-kid days, has never wavered: NO.

  • Two in our household us are allergic to dog hair and wish to avoid irritated eyes, itchy noses and skin rashes.
  • I’m done cleaning up pee and poop that comes out of people I live with.
  • We have nice carpets from our time in the Middle East and don’t want to see them shredded or soiled.
  • We like to be able to pick up and go. Not that we often do head to Bora Bora or Pago Pago, but if we had reason, we’d want to be Free-to Free-to.

But. Roger and I found ourselves softening as the kids got to be about the same ages that each of us were when we became dog people. I was smack dab in between Tessa’s age and Reed’s age when my parents unexpectedly turned to goo one night and allowed my sisters and me to bring home a puppy from a litter born to the dog that belonged to our host that night, a work colleague of my dad’s.

Scuffy (her father’s name was Scamper and her mother’s name was Muffy) changed my life for the better when I was 11. In my Scottie-Poo had a confidante who gave me unconditional love and understanding as I navigated relationships with parents, peers and boys. She saw me off to college and into young adulthood before she went to doggy heaven at age 14, one of the most traumatic times I can remember.

At first, our plan was to surprise the kids with a Christmas dog (bonus — all our holiday shopping would be done in one fell swoop!). I began investigating what was available at local shelters, cross-researching about hypoallergenic probabilities.

Then we decided that for the kids to be invested in having a dog, they should be involved at the research stage. So we told them one night at dinner, were proclaimed the Best! Parents! Ever! and began searching together online. I printed shelter applications for the kids to fill out, and they answered questions about how they would discipline a dog, chose a nearby veterinarian, and began to grasp the gravity of being utterly responsible for another being.

The next morning we headed to Shelter #1, which had a couple of possible pets on its website. In rapid succession, we met Buddy (Airedale+Lab) and Bella (Boxer+Terrier — Pitbull?). I was ready to take Buddy home even though his ever-wagging tail cut a wide swath. Bella was a sweetie, keen to have her belly rubbed — the kids were only to happy to — but her breeds weren’t on the hypoallergenic list.

Then Tessa broke out in a rash. Tessa was not the one on our radar for allergies. Because we didn’t know which dog’s dander had been the culprit and we headed to lunch empty armed. There was much disappointment.

While the hives subsided, we decided to visit Shelter #2. Wiser now, we asked only for a hypoallergenic dog. “Sorry,” we were told. “We currently don’t have any.”

“Wait,” said another lady behind the counter. “What about Franklin? He just came in two days ago and he’s not in the books yet.”

So Franklin, a Poodle+Bichon Frise, was trotted out. True love at first sight & sniff among all three youngers. Roger and I, on the other hand, were not immediately won over, despite the dog’s gentle ways, kind spirit and calm-ish nature. Roger had envisioned a bigger dog, one to run with and catch frisbees. I had in mind Buddy.

But we saw that the dog met our key requirements. He wouldn’t shed, no one was wheezing or swelling (not even me!), he wasn’t nervous or aggressive with all the goings-on in the busy shelter, and most of all, the kids were supremely happy. They were certain Franklin was their dog.

We supplied references and filled out more paperwork and listened to all that we’d need to know to make for a successful transition. We had to initial a spot that said, “YOU ARE NOT BUYING A DOG. YOU ARE PAYING FOR SERVICES” — which made me pause, coming from Adoption World.

We passed muster and the shelter let us leave with Franklin, who, on the way home, became Dexter. The Broncos were playing that afternoon and as we listened to the game on the radio we tried on “Peyton” and “Welker.” When my mom texted the name “Decker” (Eric) to me, we morphed it into Dexter.

(I’m a fan of the show Dexter because who doesn’t like rooting for a serial killer?)

Our first week has been fairly successful, though let it be known that a sub-zero freeze is a bad time weather-wise to work in a new dog. I haven’t cleaned up any poop (the kids have taken care of all the inside and outside messes) and we are mostly able to keep our sleeping routines. I did wonder at first if we should have named him Chewbacca — the first few days he chewed on anything BUT the chew toys we bought him. But that seems to have worked itself out already.

Things are off to a good start with our new addition.

So ends the tale of how we became a family of five. Now I’m off to take the kids to our first doggy training class.

They think it’s for Dexter.