time

Today was a great day.  I have come out of the funk I was in and even let go of Taylor’s hand a few times today while we played around Charleston.  Thanks internets for letting me getting it out there – it really did help.  That and some really good quality family time.

Playing in Pineapple Fountain at Waterfront Park

Looking for dolphins and boats on the pier at Waterfront Park

Looking at crabs at the Shem Creek Park

It also helped to know the timing of everything yesterday.  My mom sent me a text last night:

You aren’t going to believe this.  I looked back at my phone calls and times.  I remember putting on my wet watch and telling you it was 20 til 11 after we got back from the tidal pool.  I called Pops at 10:46 to say we couldn’t find Taylor.  That was after 911 was called and after we searched for what I thought was 15 minutes.  I called them back at 10:52 to say she had been found.

Y’all, that’s just crazy.  This means that she was missing for less than 10 minutes, even though it felt like hours.   She was still sitting on the blanket in front of us when my mom told me what time it was.   And several minutes passed from the time we found Taylor until Grammy called Pops back (we were a otherwise preoccupied squeezing the four year-old goodness out of Taylor, crying, and hugging strangers).  For some reason that makes the guilt soften a little.

But poor Pops and Russ.  They were doing some work on Pops and Grammy’s house 15 minutes away when Grammy called.  Russ was on a ladder.  We are glad he didn’t break his legs when he jumped down.  Then they jumped curbs and broke other traffic laws trying to get to us as quickly as possible.   Which, unfortunately was not quick at all, because they got caught by the draw bridge onto the island.  But, fortunately, Grammy had called them before then, so they didn’t get out of the car and swim across.

The memory is starting to feel much less raw now, so that’s good.  And I have a newfound appreciation for my girl and our time together, even when she’s driving me crazy.  It’s all a dreamy gift.

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blink of an eye

The four of us are all home, relaxing on a Sunday afternoon.   After the events of yesterday, it feels like a dream.  I’m still not convinced it is real.

Yesterday morning, I packed all of our beach going supplies – beach toys, towels, snacks, and the “get back in the car bag” with a gallon of water and washcloth to rinse of the sand and fresh towels to dry off with, and a change of clothes for everyone – and I got sun screen on the kids and myself – then I sent Taylor in to get Caleb dressed (she does that everyday now – she seemed so grown-up yesterday morning)….I was prepared like a boy scout for our day at the beach…except I wasn’t at all prepared for what our beach day turned out to be.

We had a lovely start.

We played in the sand and four-year-old-knee deep in the water.  Then we went for a walk down to the tidal pool where both kids got a little more adventurous in the calmer waters.   We collected shells, and walked back to our spot to find that some kind soul at Station 22 1/2 moved our chairs, shoes, and towels when the tide came in much faster than we anticipated.  Those people at Station 22 1/2 are my absolute favorite people in the world.

Because shortly after we arrived back at our spot, the sand was blowing on Taylor’s legs and stinging, so I told her to go stand in the water a little so it wouldn’t hurt.  She was no more than 5 feet from us.  I got up to reposition Caleb so the sand wasn’t blowing in his face.  I glanced at Taylor, who was standing ankle deep in the water.  Then I sat back down.  I have no idea how much time had passed, not much though I’m sure…but the next time I glanced at Taylor, she was not standing there 5 feet from us, ankle deep in the water.  I didn’t see her anywhere.  I jumped up and ran toward the water.  My mom jumped up and grabbed Caleb and ran to the water’s edge.  And we both began yelling and screaming Taylor’s name and repeating the phrase, “Have you seen a little girl – I can’t find my daughter – she’s four, has pigtails, and a pink bathing suit – her name is Taylor”  Within seconds there was an army of kind strangers searching for her and asking others and calling 911.

I surveyed the beach from left to right…nothing.

I surveyed the water in front of me….nothing.

I got in the water, tried to rationally judge the current and undertow to discern where she might have been pulled.  My greatest fear.  Had a wave knocked her over?  But she was only ankle deep.  But the waves were getting stronger.  And the tide was coming in quickly.  And the undertow was getting stronger.  There was a storm off the coast afterall.  Was she scared?  Where was she?  Oh, God, where was she?  Oh God, help me….help me…And I made my way up and down the beach in the water trying trying to feel for any sign of her…stopping periodically to ask strangers for help and to scan the crowds and the water.

I couldn’t find her.  I don’t know how long it was, it felt like an eternity.  Maybe 20 minutes at the most….but it was an excruciating 20 minutes.   For the last 10 of those, I was convinced she was gone.  I tried to hold on to hope.  to pray.  But I couldn’t see her.  It had been too long.  I couldn’t see her.  I was running around the beach and in the water like a lunatic with the most horrible thoughts going through my head.  My lungs and heart felt like they were going to explode.

My mom kept asking people for help.  By this point, she would say “I’m looking for a little girl” and they would respond, “so are we”.

The police SUV finally arrived with its blinking lights – then a jeep with jet skies for the water search.  OH, GOD!

I was devastated.  The hope was getting smaller, but the prayers were getting stronger and more desperate.  I was out of the water; stumbling back toward the rescue team… delirious.

Then the most beautiful wonderful man in the world ran up to me and yelled, “They found her….she’s ok….she wasn’t in the water”  And I sprinted those 200 yards back to where the police SUV was and saw her, safe and sound and dry, and I could not run fast enough.  I hugged her; she felt like a dream.

And all of the adrenaline that had been holding back the tears set them free and I lost it.  She kept asking, “mommy, why are you crying?”  I couldn’t speak.  The officer was trying to ask my name and address and phone number.  I couldn’t speak.

Some kind soul came and offered me his towel because I’m sure I looked like a drowned rat from the ocean and the tears.  I said “I’m ok” – he knew I wasn’t and insisted.

After a few minutes, we got up to walk back down the beach together, the missing four year-old with the pigtails and the pink bathing suit with her lunatic mother to make sure that all the people who were looking knew she had been found.  As we walked back so many strangers hugged me.  With utmost genuineness, they told me they were so glad she was ok.  I’m so thankful for them.  They are the ones who found her.   Two young guys in their 20s knew that we were looking and saw her…asked her if she was ok.   She told them she was looking for her mommy, and they said they knew where her mommy was and brought her to where Grammy was waiting.  Heroes, right there on the beach…just relaxing on vacation on a care-free holiday weekend.  Heroes.

We had been looking mostly to the right because that’s the direction the current and wind were going.  But she was found to the left.   She was found.

As I look back, it’s all crazy. Rationally looking back, there was little chance she was in the water because if a wave had knocked her down and she was struggling in the water, there were so many people there, that someone would have seen her and helped her.  But in the moment, I was not so rational.  I was in survival mode.  I wasn’t looking that hard on the beach because if she was on the beach, she would be ok….but if she was in the water….

It doesn’t seem real.  All last night, every time I would wake up (which was often) the images would flash back into my mind and I would think it had been a nightmare…then I would realize it was real, and I would weep.  Still now, I can’t think about it without crying.  And I can’t not think about it.  I’m hoping by getting it all out here that I’ll be able to stop thinking about it….to stop playing the what ifs? in my mind.

Today, I am so thankful….thankful that Taylor is ok.  So thankful for all those strangers at Station 22 1/2.   Thankful for the guys who found her….for the guy who ran to tell me they had found her…thankful for the guy who offered his towel…thankful for the many women, moms themselves, who hugged me tightly…thankful for my mom who held on tightly to Caleb and searched in earnest while I was a lunatic…thankful for Caleb, who must have sensed something was wrong, because he stayed there in my mom’s arms, not trying to get down at all, which is very unlike him.

We are so lucky.  I have heard those news stories of the unlucky ones.  I can’t imagine.  I experience a fraction of the despair for 10 minutes, and it was unbearable.  For those parents who experience the fullness forever, I pray.

abandon

Hey, remember when I was all “Look at me, I rock at getting things done”?  HA – I have been put in my place, thank you very much Karma.  This afternoon at 4:45, I was feeling a bit like Alexander, feeling sorry for myself and my terrible, no good, very bad day.

Taylor slept until 7:15 am, which was marvelous, except for the facts that her brother woke up at 5:45 and she is the POKIEST person in the mornings.  We had to accomplish in 30 minutes what it typically takes over an hour to do.  Her breakfast was on the table when she came out of her room, but she dillied and dallied and poked, so I had to hurry her along.  Then she took her time getting dressed and brushing her teeth.  I was ready to scream.  Then finally when we were all ready to go, I set my purse, which contained two books, on the table so I could grab something else and it tipped over and fell on my foot, books first.  I did scream then.

We managed to get to school only a few minutes late, but then I realized that we forgot Taylor’s folder.  We avoided a melt down because I was able to distract Taylor by saying “Oooo….it’s Christmas Party day…and you have on a pretty Christmas dress”  Then she bounded off to show her dress to her friends, and I thought (naively) that maybe today wouldn’t be a total disaster afterall.

I had a long list of things to get done today because I didn’t get to go to work yesterday as I was home with sick Taylor…and tomorrow we are going to be gone all day for Christmas celebrations.   I went into work first because I needed to print off some things and our home printer is out of ink.  Apparently, my office printer is also out of ink.  But I can also print to the copier, which was broken.  So I screamed a little in my office, too.  So I went over to the fellowship hall to move some tables around for Sunday.  One of the tables wasn’t quite as sturdy as I thought and drop on my foot.  I screamed again…perhaps this second near broken toe incident should indicate that perhaps flip flops in December are not wise.

I decided work was just not meant to happen, so I went to the grocery store.  For some reason, I could not remember ANYTHING and had to keep backtracking to different aisles in the store to get the things I had forgotten on the first pass.  I was in the grocery store for at least 90 minutes – it was maddening.  Also, I needed an unsliced Pumpernickel loaf, which proved to be quite elusive.  The  first grocery store didn’t have it, neither did the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th store I tried.

I picked the kids up midway through my hunt for the elusive pumpernickel, which was a bad idea.  Taylor was all hyped up on Christmas party goodies and was a disaster to have in public.  She needed a large field to run in for an hour rather than the car, two grocery stores, and the bank.

So at 4:45 when I was over the day and the five stores without pumpernickel, three non-usable printers, two almost broken toes, and one wild and crazy preschooler, Russ came to my rescue.  He took over kid duty.  I called my mom who was able to find the pumpernickel like a bread ninja.  Then we went to eat Mexican for dinner (because even though I did plan something to cook for dinner, I was out of time to cook it because I was obsessed with pumpernickel)…and I had a Margarita.  So my terrible, no good, very bad day became much less bad.

After dinner, I went to Walmart to get printer ink.  On my way out of the store, there was a car full of guys blaring Cher and dancing and  singing at the top of their lungs with complete reckless abandon.  I couldn’t help but smile as I watched them and remembered high school and college days of doing the same with my friends. So I got in my car and decided I needed a little reckless abandon to counteract my day of frustration of not getting my grown-up to do list done.  I turned the car on, and Christmas music came on the radio.  No, that wouldn’t do.

I channel surfed until I found the perfect old school soundtrack for my ride and turned up the volume.  I sang and danced my way home to Eminem, Red Hot Chili Peppers, No Doubt, and Prince.  It was splendid.  And I did feel much better when I got home.

It’s funny how such little things can make your day go sour.  But at least little things can make your day better, too.  So today, I’m thankful for moms and husbands who come to the rescue, margaritas, old school music blaring on my minivan speakers, and a brief 15 minutes alone to abandon my list and stress and responsibilities…and jam.

baller

After the difficult morning we had on Thursday, we turned things around in the afternoon.  Taylor got in the car when I picked her up from school and sweetly said, “Mommy, I’m sorry I wasn’t listening this morning”  (GAH) Then we went shopping for the gift exchange for her class and our angel tree gifts.  She was a big help and put a lot of thought into the gifts she picked out.

Then after dinner, we went to watch a middle school girls basketball game to see one of her buggies (a strange name she has for the middle school girls at church) do her thing.  I thought it would be cool to show her girls playing basketball to help balance the princessness.  Russ was also on board (obviously).  But Russ was supposed to meet us there and help with the kids and take Caleb home early if he got cranky.  This did not happen.  Instead, I was at the basketball game by myself with both kids. (you know this is not going to end well, right?)

Caleb actually did ok, he was pretty into all of the action.  Taylor, however, hated the buzzer that went off with every start, time out, foul, etc.  After 5 minutes of play, she covered her ears and started crying, asking if the buzzer was done yet.

I guess she won’t be playing basketball.  It was already unlikely with her vertical disadvantage (she’s only in the 15th percentile for height), and now she’s scared of the buzzer.

Anywho…we left.  and this conversation happened.

Taylor:  Mommy, why did the buzzer keep going off?
Me:  The buzzer goes off whenever there is a foul.
Taylor:  But why are their owls in basketball.
Me:  Not owl, foul, with an f.  A foul is when someone isn’t following the basketball rules.  The buzzer goes off when the players break the rules.
Taylor:  But why don’t they follow the rules?  They should follow the rules.
Me:  Yes, they should.
 
Russ calls – I tell him the story.  She interupts:
 
“Owl rhymes with foul”  and breaks into laughter.
 
Taylor:  Mommy, why are their fouls in basketball?
Me:  You’ll have to ask your daddy when we get home
Taylor:  I want to play basketball when I’m a teenager.  When I’m a teenager, I won’t be scared of the buzzer anymore.
Me:  That’s good.

She may drive me crazy, but she’s a pretty awesome kid.

standing ground

Taylor could not be more like me.  I mean she looks like me.  She is OCD like me.  And she is definitely stubborn like me.

Yesterday morning, I told her to put her jacket on because it was cold outside.  She said she wouldn’t be cold.  We went back and forth for a while before I gave up and just grabbed her jacket and carried it outside.  I got both kids in the car and then proceeded to scrape ice off my windshield (it was cold enough for frost on my windshield, yet Taylor was wearing a long sleeved t-shirt).  When I got back in the car, I asked Taylor if she was cold.  To prove her stubbornness exceeded mine, she said “no”.  Yet, she looked like this:

She’s not cold, but she has her arms in her shirt.

She is crying because I did not scrape the ice from her window so she couldn’t see out of it.  She asked me to once I got in the car, and I did not (because she gets her stubbornness from me).  Instead I said, “did you put your jacket on when I asked you to?”  “no” “Ok, then I’m not going to scrape the ice off of your window”

She cried all the way to school.

I just turned the radio up.

I’m the world’s best mother, yes?

oh yes we did

Merry Christmas from us.

We joked with my surgeon that we would send a Christmas card with a picture of my cyst like you would a new baby.  So we did.  Don’t worry, YOUR Christmas card won’t look like this.  The beauty of ordering these cards is that you can order just one, so we ordered just one to send to my surgeon.  We crack ourselves up!

 

Halloweek

We’ve been celebrating for at least a week now.

Day 1)  Pumpkin Pickin’

Day 4)  Pumpkin Carvin’

Day 6) Trunk-or-Treat at Church

Unfortunately my camera battery died after taking this picture of the bus – so sad:

So I stole these two from Pops:

Day 7)  Part A:  Halloween Parties at School

Are they dressed for Halloween or game day?

Day 7) Part B:  Party at Chick-Fil-A and Candy Examination

Caleb examined his candy very carefully – taking it out of his bucket, putting it back in, then taking it out again.  He was content to examine and didn’t even need to eat any of it.

Good Times.

BONUS:  While looking through my computer files for a baby picture for my confirmation class on Sunday, I found this one of me on Halloween in the first grade.  Can’t beat a tin foil wand!