The Essence

Living and growing a family in the North awards you with a real and tangible connection to the land. As a mother of 5 and as a home baker and wannabe chef, it is this connection that seeps into everything - motherhood, food, harvesting, and experiencing the very heartbeat of the bit of earth that sustains us.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Warning: Major Gross Factor

Early this morning, around 3am, Dustin barfed. Once downstairs all over the bathroom floor, and once upstairs. He tried to catch it in his hands. I wanted to be sympathetic, I wanted to be a comforting, nurturing mother, but isn't 13 old enough to clean up your own vomit? Shouldn't a 13 year old be able to make it to the toilet bowl? I can handle grossness, believe me, after 4 children I've had to deal with stuff a lot of kidless people couldn't even imagine. I can handle poop and snot and blood and pee and spit and curdled milk even, but I don't do barf. Just a hint of the smell, and I start to lose it. So this morning I kicked T.J out of bed to go see to his son. Later as I bleached away, I remembered a pretty great barf story back when Dustin was about 3 years old.

One night he woke up crying and I burst into his room and was hit by that terrible smell that stopped me dead in my tracks. My little guy was hollering and reaching out for me, and I had to turn, gagging and pulling my shirt over my nose, back out of the room to wake T.J. He went in and discoverd a pool of vomit smack in the middle of Dustin's bedspread. He picked up our little boy, held him at arm's reach, and headed for the bathroom where he stuck him in the bathtub and turned the shower on. He couldn't just stuff the comforter in the washing machine, as there were chunks of partly digested food floating around the rest of my son's stomach contents. T.J hatched a plan, and he found me hiding under my covers and convinced me to help him carry it out.

We had a second floor deck off our bedroom, and he wanted me to grab 2 corners of Dustin's comforter while he grabbed the other 2 sides. We were going to carry the puke this way, without spilling, to the door and throw the whole thing off the deck. Lovely.

Well, because I was holding 2 sides of the comforter, I couldn't let go to cover my nose because it would spill all over the floor. That smell was wafting up, I swear I could see it steaming. I lost it. Half way from Dustin's bedroom to the deck door, I couldn't hold it back anymore and I vomited right into the middle of the comforter, on top of what was already there. T.J was yelling, "GO GO GO GO GO!", and we burst onto the deck and hurled the whole disgusting thing out into the front yard where it landed with a splat onto the snow. T.J went to Dustin, who was still standing in the shower with all his jammies on, hollering. I went back to bed. The next day, we looked out the window and the birds were enjoying breakfast out on the comforter, which was now frozen into the snow. Disgusting.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Skidoo fun

Today the Granthams went skidooing. We had a great time, it was nice to get out into the crisp air and roar down the trail. There's nothing like the smell of skidoo fumes. Yummy. June fell fast asleep in T.J's lap. Or maybe it was the fumes!

We skidooed out to one of the sheep viewing cabins, where we stopped to take some pictures.

Lydia was travelling with me on the back of the skidoo, and we went over a bump and she flew right off into the snowbank! She was spread out face first, I thought she was going to freak out but she sat up, mouth full of snow, laughing. She exclaimed, "That was fun, Mommy!" as she climbed back on. She made snow angels...

Junie finally woke up, and explored around the cabin.

We had a fabulous day, and want to do it again tomorrow! Next time we'll bring some hotdogs and hot chocolate.

When we got home and parked the skidoos, I looked up and noticed something strange. On the willow that grows beside the side of the house were a bunch of pussy willows! Who says global warming is a farce? January 16th has got to be the earliest emergence of pussywillows in the north. Weird.

Is there a better way to end a day in our great outdoors than a hot soak in the tub?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Grantham Family Vacation

I've been reflecting a little on the anniversary of our little daughter, Lydia's, seizure that occurred on the airplane on January 9th, 2009. We were heading to Mexico for a 2 month break from reality. Following is a letter I wrote to my father's church, as we had requested prayer and I wanted to provide an update before we left the country:

To Our Riverdale Church Family,

Well, yesterday we were feeling like turning around and coming right back home! I was feeling like maybe God was trying to send us a message.
We started our holiday with the death of our cat, Peanut the day before we left. Then we drove out in -40 to Lillooet to spend Christmas with T.J's family. Christmas Eve the power went out and the turkey was ruined. Christmas Day the sewer backed up and we had to use an outhouse and go to town for showers and laundry. There was record snow in Vancouver, and we had a treacherous drive through Whistler to get to the ferry to take us to the island, where there was freezing rain. The ferry that was going to take us from Victoria to Seattle to catch our plane was taking a week off for maintenance so we scrambled to find another way there. Seattle warmed up and there was major flooding everywhere. Rivers overflowed. Then our precious little girl had a fluke seizure on the plane and we had to go to the hospital. And the airline broke our stroller. So I was feeling like God was saying, "What do I have to do to get you to turn around already?!"
Then today when my babies were sleeping and I was watching Dustin and Emily play in the pool, God revealed a different take on things to me. Our cat was 14, and I am glad she died while we were able to say goodbye, instead of by herself while we were away. He kept us safe as we drove in the freezing cold, our van was warm and our hotels comfortable. Christmas Eve we salvaged the dinner by candlelight, and we enjoyed each other's company while we all caught up. The outhouse wasn't really a big deal, it was like we were camping. What could we expect with 14 people in the house? All the cousins got along beautifully, and had a blast playing in the enormous snowfall in -10 temperatures. God was with us while we drove to the island, we never ended up like the family who's SUV was upside down in the middle of the road. The freezing rain eventually washed all the snow away. My aunt drove us over to Seattle in our van, and we had a nice time visiting and shopping with her. She drove us to the mall! Seattle flooded almost everywhere but where we were. Lydia's seizure traumatized all of us, we are still recovering, but as far as seizures are concerned it was a fairly mild one. The doctors thought it would be unlikely for her to have another one. We had excellent medical care at a state of the art children's hospital, the airline put us up in a luxury hotel and rescheduled our flights. The hotel staff gave us warm chocolate chip cookies. While we were in hospital an angel visited us named Uncle John. He took T.J, Dustin and all our luggage from the hospital to the hotel. Then he came back and took Dustin and Emily back to his house with him. Him and his wife, Kathy took them out to Chucky Cheese, and they came and picked us all up when we were done at the hospital and took us to our hotel. God gave me the forethought to purchase travel insurance, the enhanced package. So they paid for the ambulance transfer and Lydia's stay in the hospital. They will reimburse us for a $360 prescription and all our meals, phone calls, and hotel costs. They will buy us a new stroller.
Lydia is happy and acting totally normal. Today she even got a time out for hitting her sister! So I don't think God is telling us to turn around anymore. We are focusing on the incredible way he has put his arms around our family, and there is no doubt in our minds that he will continue to do so. Our family has been so blessed, we are looking forward to a beautiful, restful time together as a family in Mexico. Please continue to pray that our Lydia stays healthy, and that she doesn't have any more seizures on any more planes. Pray that we will have a wonderful time on our holiday, and that God will continue to watch over us while we are far from our country and our home and loved ones. Thank you for all your prayers so far, we felt them raining down on us as we took care of our little daughter. May God bless all of you as he as blessed us.

Love, T.J and Heather

We continued to have many challenges on our holiday. When we arrived in Cancun, January 13th, one year ago today, my sweet husband left his jacket on the plane. With his wallet in the pocket. We waited in a gloomy hallway between the plane and customs while TJ frantically begged for an airport staff member to go get his coat. The guy returned proudly a few minutes later with the coat in tow - but no wallet. After T.J explained (pretty calmly, even) that he was not leaving without any money, the guy went back into the plane and we waited for a horribly excruciating 45 minutes for the guy to re-emerge. He very sheepishly handed over the wallet, with the visa card intact. Then we headed to Walmart to pick up some groceries and then to our condo, where the property manager was supposed to meet us. You guessed it, we stood on the side of the road in a foreign country with our 4 kids, a mountain of luggage and about 15 bags of groceries for 2 hours until we determined the property manager wasn't going to make an appearance. We loaded back into the van (thank you so much for waiting with us, Enrico!) and went to search for a hotel room. Some advice, don't appear desperate in Mexico. We went to about 10 hotels, and the cheapest price we could find for a room for 1 night with a fridge was $500.00 US. ARGGGG! Finally, we found a room for $165US, I think because our van driver had it out with the hotel manager. We packed all the kids and luggage and food into a tiny room and had a sleepless night because it was hot and sweaty and we were worried about Lydia and we were right on a main street and the motorcycles roared. The next day we got the condo manager on the phone and arranged to meet. We got a taxi to take us there, and started settling in. The kids jumped in the pool, I unpacked groceries and clothing, things were looking up. Until T.J went out to get us a disposable cell phone, and he discovered his visa was missing from his wallet. He left it at the hotel when he paid for our room. We had absolutely no idea where the hotel was located, and were even unsure of the name. T.J and Dustin flagged down a taxi, and went out in search of the hotel and our visa card. If we aren't divorced after that, we will get through anything! Thankfully, they found it and the guy behind the counter had the card there in an envelope with our name on it. Whew. Things went well for the next couple weeks, we rested and recovered and spent lovely hot times on the beach. Until the day Lydia got hold of a bottle of grape flavored Benadryl and proceeded to drink the whole thing down.......I love my daughter but I was ready to send her right back home to her grandparents. I think the next vacation will be to somewhere similar, hot sandy beaches, mojitos in pool chairs and palms blowing in the breeze, but there will be no kids to be found! :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Catching up

My list of things to do today is occupied with catching up. I have fallen behind this holiday season, opting to bask in family time rather than keep up with my pink jobs. I have yet to send out my Christmas family update, the cards are ready, the envelopes are even addressed, but I am determined to include the family letter of 2009 that I have yet to write. So they will be New Year cards. The list of household chores is long, like cleaning out the fridge, which still has leftover turkey hiding in a container somewhere in the back. Leftovers have never been my thing. There are business chores, like paying bills and sorting mail and examining the long avoided VISA statement. There are chores outside, like refilling bird feeders and scooping dog doo and adding water to the hot tub. There is recycling, ugg, the recycling. A mountain of cardboard and wrapping paper and the evidence of too much alcohol consumed. Good thing recycling is pretty much a blue job.

On Monday was our anniversary. 13 years are behind us, 13 years of raising babies and creating a family and riding the waves of ups and downs. My parents took the kids for the weekend and T.J and I checked into a hotel for a vacation from the world. It was a sweet reminder of what we are together, of a renewed sense of appreciation and passion and love. For 2 whole nights we focused just on us and it was wonderful. On Saturday morning T.J rolled over to check the time and he said, "Holy crap, it's 2:30!" I haven't slept like that since I was a teenager! We returned to our kids rested and revived, ready to take on this new year. So here's to one item crossed off my list, an entry on my neglected blog. Now onto Christmas letters!