Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Update on Donna and Gabi

Originally posted on my website on December 1, 2006

Many of you have asked for an update on the family I first wrote about in "What Really Matters". Donna and Gabi are both home now recovering from their Sept. 8 accident. Doctors decided not to operate on Gabi's pelvis with the hope that, at her young age, it would heal better on its own. In order for that to happen, she has to remain off her feet and as still as possible, as often as possible, which is certainly very difficult for a 5-year-old to do; Gabi and Gabe turned 5 in October. Donna is currently working with an occupational therapist to relearn how to use her arms, wrists and hands to the best of her ability. She will have an MRI in January to determine how well her neck is fusing back together; she's still wearing the neck and spine halo and the results of the MRI will determine whether or not it can be removed. In order to keep his job, Kevin had to return to work this week, so Donna and Gabi have a nurse at home with them. Gabe is back in school, and friends and family are taking shifts caring for baby Gavin every day. This family still has a long road of recovery ahead of them, so please continue to keep them in your prayers.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Behind the Camera: Wedding? What Wedding?

Here’s a great picture of my husband and our daughter Livvie taken at a friend’s wedding on the beach. Sarah and I were with everyone else watching the ceremony, but the photographer saw this shot and couldn’t resist. I love it!

What Matters Most

Originally published on my website October 2, 2006

Every now and then, you get hit with a dose of reality that shakes up your senses and reminds you what really matters. A few weeks ago, a good friend of my friend Jennie was involved in a very serious car accident. Donna was on her way to take her 4-year-old twins Gabi and Gabe to pre-school, the same pre-school my daughters attend. In the van with them was 3-month-old baby Gavin. Those of us with children know how easy it is to get distracted by children in the back seat, and Donna and her family experienced the consequences of that distraction first hand when the family minivan crashed into the rear end of a slowing semi-truck on I-95 one Friday morning, crumpling up like a tin can.

Amazingly enough, baby Gavin was uninjured. Gabe suffered only a broken arm. Donna and Gabi were not so lucky. Gabi’s pelvis was broken in two places, her intestines had to repaired, and her left lung collapsed after surgery, leaving her on a ventilator. After three weeks in the hospital, Gabi has just now been able to come home, though she is still immobilized to allow her pelvis time to heal. Donna broke her right wrist, both forearms, her right ankle and her left femur. She also broke her neck and several ribs. She’s since undergone surgery that fused her skull to the top four vertebrae of her spine, which will leave her with limited movement in her neck. Three and a half weeks after the accident, she is still hospitalized and wearing a neck and spine halo.

Donna’s husband Kevin has had to take time off indefinitely without pay to help care for the children and family. Friends from their church are also helping to care for the children and doing whatever else they can to help. Their church is setting up a fund to accept donations for the family’s mounting medical bills and just to help them with life in general, now that both Donna and Kevin will be unable to work for quite some time. This family will face mountains of challenges for many months to come. Please keep them in your prayers.*

We’re all faced with our own versions of tough times. Now married to one of my husband’s closest friends, Jennie lost her first husband in a freak boating accident when their son Joey was just a baby. Joey never really knew his Dad; Jennie wasn’t even 30 at the time, far too young to be a widow. I didn’t know Jennie then. And now, her ever bubbly personality carefully hides the tragedy she experienced; she is truly a tender, giving soul. In December of 1999, two days after Christmas, I lost my mother to suicide. My husband and I had just gone through weeks of a very invasive infertility treatment to get pregnant and learned that we had lost the tiny babies just two days after Mom’s death. Talk about a bad week in the Warren household. I cherish my last day with my mom: December 25, 1999. Two years later, right around the same time, my very dear friend and mentor Vee, who had essentially adopted me as her own after I lost my mom, was killed in a car accident just three days after she had spent three days visiting me. Events like this really make you take stock of your life. My husband and I were watching the news last night and heard of yet another killing in a school. I think that’s been three incidents at three separate schools in less than two weeks. Makes you wonder what’s happening in the world, doesn’t it? As the saying goes, God only gives you what you can handle, and what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.

So it all comes back to what really matters. It’s not your job…here lately, mine has certainly been making we wonder why I spend 40 or more hours a week here. It’s not keeping up with the Joneses…in the big scheme of things, it truly does not matter what kind of car you drive or what brand of jeans are on your butt. And it’s not what you should and should not wear to Walmart…the topic I started writing about before I wrote this story. To me, what’s most important are the people who inhabit your life.

Our neighbors across the street, Steve and Shirley, are a great pair. My husband’s mom died of an extended illness shortly after we married, so our girls don’t have a blood grandmother. That fact breaks my heart daily because I was extremely close to my Nana and have hundreds of wonderful memories of spending time with her. But Shirley has really stepped in and loves those girls like they’re her own. She calls them her little mermaids and happily spends hours on end with them. That’s what really matters. We’ve allowed them to add a second floating dock to our dock to park their SeaDoo, giving them easy access to their sailboat, which is anchored mid-river out behind our house. In exchange, we can use the SeaDoo anytime we want.

Yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasure of taking my girls for a ride on the SeaDoo for the first time. The joy on their faces and the giggles erupting from them as we cruised down the river…that’s what really matters. Hearing them say “Go faster, Mommy! Go faster!”…that’s what really matters. Livvie hopping back on the dock to watch the fishies swim, “like Nemo and Dorie, Mommy!...Just keep swimmin’, just keep swimmin’”…that’s what really matters.

As Sarah and I were pulling away from the dock for our third ride of the afternoon while Livvie watched her new fishie friends, my husband yelled after me that he thought Sarah had figured out how to make things go faster. We flew down the river at nearly 40 mph, Sarah laughing the whole way. As we were pulling back up to the dock, Sarah said, “Not yet, Mommy!” and grabbed the throttle. Visions of me grabbing the throttle on my Dad’s motorcycle at six years old raced through my head as I quickly turned the ‘Doo away from the dock, Sarah screaming happily and Livvie and my husband yelling “Bye, bye, Mommy and Sarah!”….That’s what really matters, isn’t it?

*If you’d like to make a donation to help the Parrish family, please contact me for more information.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Swimming Lesson that Almost Wasn't

Originally posted on my website in August 2006

The dog days of summer are most definitely upon us. We got our electric bill the other day and it was nearly $300! Yikes! To cool off, we took the girls for two weeks worth of swimming lessons at the YMCA. They had a ball, and I think we had just as much fun watching them. The parents were only allowed to watch, not participate, so I think the girls probably did better with us on the sidelines instead of in the pool with them.

Raising my girls brings back so many memories of my childhood. I have to admit, I think I like watching Sesame Street DVDs even more than they do! Some of the clips included in the current DVDs are from my day, and I still remember all the words and enjoy singing along. My husband was 11 when Sesame Street first aired, so he was already way too cool to watch, but he will get up and dance with Ernie and Bert now if he thinks the girls are the only ones watching. We get to see a lot of Blues Clues and Bob the Builder these days as well. I always thought I'd try to limit TV time for the girls, and I do my best, but when I'm trying to get ready for work in the morning and they are getting up at 6am, there's really no other option!

Taking the girls to swimming lessons reminded me of one of my dad's favorite stories to tell about me. When I was very young and growing up in Miami, I spent a lot of time with my dad. He likes to tell everyone that we were kids together, but that he was just taller. :-) My mom was a nurse, working days, and my dad went to school during the day and worked nights. When I was three, Dad took me to swimming lessons at the local public pool. I apparently wanted to have nothing to do with the pool, which amazes me now because I absolutely love the water. The way Dad tells it, when we were supposed to get started, I ran into the ladies locker room, thinking I'd be safe there since he was a man and unable to enter. So he asked one of the female teachers to go in and get me. When she came out, without me, she was very angry with him! She said he should not have brought his child to swimming lessons in her condition! Clueless as to what she was referring to, Dad asked her to explain. She told him I said that I really shouldn't go in the water because I had a heart condition, and if I tried to swim, my heart might stop and I'd drown! Oh, the horrors! :-) And what imagination for a three-year-old! (I guess I started early...) Dad assured the teacher that I did not have a heart condition and asked to enter the locker room to gather me. Moments later, he threw me in the pool, and I learned to swim very quickly.

I paid him back when I was about six. He had just finished a motorcycle race and we were riding through the pits with me sitting on the gas tank of his bike. I grabbed the throttle, pulled back, and we did a wheelie all the way through the pits! When I was six, Dad was still only 26, so luckily for both of us, he still had very quick reflexes! I'm sure the girls will pay me back in spades.

Getting Started

Originally posted June 2006

So I've finally gotten around to getting my website up and running...I can't believe it! Hope you all like it.
I must send my many thanks to the folks at Pappashop for all their help. I know I drive them crazy at times with all my questions. If you ever need a website designer, check them out! They are really great to work with.

I wanted to tell you a little bit about how all this happens. I have many wonderful customers in my neighborhood who always wonder how I have time to make jewelry with two little redheads constantly underfoot. (Secretly, I've already involved them in slave labor, but I'll save that for another story :-) I try to work on my jewelry either while the girls are napping on the weekend--and unfortunately for our sanity, those naps are getting shorter and shorter--or after they go to bed at night--which now thanks to daylight savings time is later and later. So most often, I am working while they are underfoot. My husband built me a wonderful workshop on the ground floor of our house, and at one end there is a window with a large shelf in front of it. That's usually where the girls hang out. They both have their own "jewelries" boxes full of old junk jewelry and Mardi Gras beads. Most often, they pile on as many pieces as they can at one time and say, "Mommy, don't I look cute?" Yes, these are soon to be three-year-olds. Then there is the challenge of their wanting to put their jewelries (yes, I really do know how to spell, that's just what they call it...) in my bead boxes. "Mommy, will this one fit there?" says one as she squashes an obnoxious strand of lime green plastic beads she got at Springtime Tallahassee into my sterling spacers. Most times though, they are content to fight over their jewelries and reach "across the line" into my spac
e to grab all my tools off their hooks above me and rearrange them. Or grab a couple wire mandrels and bang on the window sill singing, "Mommy, Mommy, jump up and down! Mommy, Mommy, jump up and down!" Never a dull moment. Though possible relief arrived this weekend in the form of nice little plastic pool from Walmart....that's starting to keep both hubby and the girls occupied! And then there's the time hubby was supposed to be watching them, when in fact, they were in the bathroom getting into my lipsticks.....