Thursday, November 01, 2012

A Long Overdue Update

I am very sorry to have left you all hanging with this post on September 23.  It has been a long almost 41 days, and I have been by Dwight's side almost all day every day.  It has been exhausting, but we have seen many miracles, large and small.

I began journaling this journey on Facebook the first day, and realized much later that I should have cut and paste each post to this site as well.  By then it was too late.  The World Wide Web Prayer Chain has been amazing - people have read my posts, passed them along to their friends, who have passed them along to their friends.  

I almost lost Dwight on my 65th birthday, September 25.  It is a very long story, and I would love if each of you could catch up on it on Facebook.  I know some of you have no desire to be a part of that site, but it truly has been an amazing resource for me.  If you do decide you want to read my updates, you can find me as Dawn Swanson Carlson.  Some folks have had trouble finding me, even with that specific name.  So if that is the case, and you'll already a member, just send me your FB name and I'll "friend" you instead.  

If you aren't a member and just don't want to be, you could just be my friend only, then cancel when this crisis is over.  

Suffice it to say, he was in ICU for 23 days, and has been in this place called Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Care Hospital for the last 18 days.  I don't see an end in sight, but we'll see.  He has kidney dialysis every other day, and his kidneys are not healing, as we were assured 90% that they would.  Leave it to us to be in the 10%.  We're not giving up yet, praying for yet another miracle.  

As for Kristen, she has not received any further bad news, so we're trusting for the best there.  

Please continue praying for us!  It has been a very hard road we've been on.   

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Call for Prayer - Again

I have all sorts of things I want to share, and have begun several times to begin that process.  In the midst of it all, we have been hit with a crisis of pretty major proportions.   I wrote this on Facebook today, and am so grateful for all of the prayer support the post has generated.  But I want to share with all of you as well.  

Dwight had an endoscopy Thursday, and that night he began vomiting and was sick all night long.  We called the doc, who prescribed nausea meds, thinking it was the flu.  Turns out there seems to be a direct connection between the confluence of the two issues.  He was sick for Friday and Saturday, but we just thought he was fighting a bug.  A big bad bug.  This morning, I was unable to help him up from the floor, where he had tried to crawl and get something from his dresser drawer (the girls were at the house, I was getting them ready for church, I had closed his door, and couldn't hear him calling me).  I felt like the worse wife ever!  I couldn't get him up, so told him I was calling an ambulance.  He said (true Bronco fan that he is), "not until after the game."  I think he's going to be glad he missed this one after all.  The ambulance, fire truck, and another vehicle arrived with siren blaring, lights flashing.  Quite a lot of commotion for our cul de sac.  The girls were traumatized, to say the least.  But they were all so kind to the kids. 

He is a very very sick guy.  He not only has pneumonia, but is septic (blood infection), and the lung doc just told me he could experience kidney failure, permanent or temporary.  This is just all so unbelievable.  I am so thankful for this network of prayer warriors!   

I am also so thankful for this amazing unit at this hospital.  He is getting top notch care.  Keep praying, please!

While you're at it, please pray for Kristen as well.  Just when things are starting to come together for her and her future, she had 5 miles removed.  (The fact that we have been trying to get her to get the largest one looked at for years now is something I have to let go).  She got a call from the pathologist at 8:00 Friday evening - which to me was a bit ominous.  The only word she understood was "melanoma", which is what my fear has been.  She has to see a specialist, and will be calling that office tomorrow - I suspect it is an oncologist.

I will try to keep you updated.  

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Hello.o.o.o.o.o.!! Anybody still out there???

Hey, out there!  Anybody remember me?  I am so sorry to have dropped off the face of the earth (except for those of you who are Facebook friends and have kept up with my crazy life).  I really don't want to quit this spot entirely, but have not had the inspiration necessary to make it happen in the last 3 months. 

I missed my 6 year bloggiversary in June.  So much has happened since I wrote last that I don't know where to start.  I keep thinking of things I want to tell all of you dear friends (if I have any left!), but haven't had the energy to sit down and make it happen.

Hopefully, if I hear from you guys that anybody is still interested, I will try to write once in awhile again.  In the meantime, let me know if there's anybody still out there, okay??

Just to whet your appetite for more twin stories:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Conversations with Two Fours

Four year olds can be so much fun, or not.  But when they are, they really are.  Lately our conversations (or theirs, as I listen in) have been the kind that need to be remembered.  Thus, this post, for myself.  You can listen in, if you please.

We were driving past the lake in the middle of our town, which is really low right now.  I commented on it, more or less to myself.  They discussed the situation at length, and alas I forgot to write it down as soon as I could.  But later that day, we were driving again, and had been following a truck with a large opaque container of liquid, probably chemicals, sloshing back and forth.  After following it for several miles, suddenly Katie piped up:  "I see a truck with water in it.  I think it's taking water to the lake so the beach won't be so down."

Another day one of them commented on a pretty tree that looks "like broccoli."

The logic of their little minds astounds me at times.  It had rained during the night, and on the way to take the big girls to school, my tires spun a bit as I was leaving a stop sign.  Again, I believe it was Katie who said, "That must be because of the rain on the street."  

Emma:  "Did I cry last night?"  
Me:  "Yes, you screamed your head off."
Emma:  "I screamed, but my head is still on.

In the school bathroom:

Emma:  "Where's the bath?"  Good question!  Guess we should call it "rest room" instead.

Another conversation in the car:

Emma:  "Grandma, is my peanut butter sandwich going to turn me into a grownup?"

Katie:  "What about me?  Will my peanut butter sandwich make me big?"

Emma:  "I don't think you ate enough to get big."

We were attending an awards program at school.  Emma was sitting on my lap, facing me.  She caught a glimpse inside my shirt neckline and said, "Grandma, you have a black bra."

Then she turned to my former work friend, who is considerably older than I, and I run into her at school functions where she is watching her great grandchildren, who are the ages of my grandgirls.  Emma pointed to her and said, "Does she have a bra on?"  Yikes!

And then there was the day we were checking out at Sam's - the young man at the next stand was sporting not one, but two, flashy earrings.  I hadn't noticed him until Emma blurted out, "Boys don't wear earrings!"  He and I had an interesting conversation after that.  

I know you remember when Katie cut Emma's hair - it seems lately as though Emma is saying that she did it to herself, but I find it hard to imagine that she could have done that to herself.  Regardless, they are both looking forward to their hair being long again.  In fact, everything that we're discussing from the past, near or far past, Katie will say, "Was that when my hair was long?"

Have a wonderful Memorial Day, and a great week!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

When a Grandma is Not Just a Grandma

For those of you who have been keeping up with my cousin Ann's adventures in Africa, I wanted to let you know that their team and one of their daughters and her husband have arrived back in Mali this week.  The other daughter, husband, and two little boys have come back to the U.S.  This does not mean that things are really settled there, and I am anxious to hear from her again when they get settled back home in Mali.

Based on the title of my blog, and the pictures I post most of the time, you know very well that a lot of my time is spent with my grandgirls.   You know that I love them all dearly and that there is nothing I wouldn't do for them, if I could.

But - in the interest of full disclosure, there are times when I wish I could just be the grandma, and not the stand-in mommy.  I sometimes envy those grandmas who are so excited that their grandkids are coming to visit rather than saying, "Boy, could I use a day off!"  

"According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nationally there are 4.5 million children living in grandparent-headed households (6.3% of all children under age 18). This represents a 30% increase from 1990 to 2000." (2009 study at Ohio State University).  Thankfully, we aren't technically part of this statistic, but we do have the girls a lot of the time.

Naturally, because we have them so much, we often act and react more as a parent would than a grandparent who, according to a common, normal statement you hear, "The great thing about grandchildren is that you can love them, spoil them, and then send them home."  Not so much!

This last week, I have felt like (in the words of the legendary Yogi Berra), "deja vu all over again."  It reminded me of the time Kevin came from home from school one day and told me, probably after dinner, "Oh, Mom, I'm Thomas Jefferson in a play tomorrow and I need a costume" (breeches, no less).  I've never been great at costumes.  In fact, Halloween is my worst nightmare.  But I did my best, and punted more than once.  

So - Tuesday morning (after they spent the night here), Livi presented a huge poster she was supposed to have turned in on Monday (in her defense, we were all gone Friday night and Saturday, including Kristen).  It was a poster about herself - she is the Student of the Week, since her birthday is on Saturday.  It required some pictures, a lot of info about herself, and some coloring.  Needless to say, it was a mad scramble to get that done, and everyone dressed and out the door for school within an hour!  Whew.

The girls' art show was tonight, and fortunately I looked at a hand-out from the teacher which reminded them (and parents/quasi-parents) that they needed to come up with a costume for the "Colorado History Museum", to be held during the art show.  Thankfully we had more notice this time, and since Kristen has been working lots of evening hours, it fell on me to come up with said costume.  Hayley had done her research project on the Unsinkable Molly Brown.  Tonight, the kids were in their classroom, standing with their informative posters, sharing their knowledge in the first person.   I may be prejudiced, but I thought Hayley had the best costume.  The dress is one Kristen had in high school, which I was able to cinch up in the back, put a lace shirt so she didn't look like a saloon girl, and borrowed a plain black hat from a lady at church, adding a feather from Hobby Lobby.  

But the hardest part of this dual role happened this week in the most dramatic way to date.  I had to deal with an act of naughtiness head on.  I had made a threat which I thought would defuse the situation.  When my bluff was called, and the child in question didn't shape up, I had to take away a privilege which is so dear to her heart that her wails of "I'm dying," just about did me in.  I have high hopes that this incident will have a lasting influence on the thought processes of this child, and that maybe the other 3 might have learned something from it as well! 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Catching Up

I want to thank all of you for the nice comments on our yard - I wish we could all sit around the picnic table and have a refreshing conversation with coke, Diet DP, tea, coffee, or whatever you desire.  The tulips have been great again this year, the forget-me-nots are spreading like lovely weeds, and soon the irises will make an appearance.  

I had to chuckle at one of the comments - about the fact that even my yard has lots of stories to tell.  So true, and a reference to my most common posts - stories of my life.  I will never be a deep, insightful writer.  I will never make people laugh with my writing style.  But I do love to share stories of things that have made me who I am.

Another friend noted that I hadn't updated all of you about Dwight and his health situation.  He is completely over the celllulitis in his leg as well as the fungus issues, and the rashes that seemed to result from the residue of the antibiotics.  It does seem, though, that his resistance is still compromised, resulting in another sinus infection and pink eye last week.  He seems to be on the mend now, thank the Lord.

I have to say, though, that his strength and endurance seems to be coming along well, since he was able to go golfing twice this week with his brother, who was visiting from Georgia.  That's a good thing for sure.


There is a reason I am copying this next story from a post last summer.  I know some of you will remember both times I have posted about Ann.

If you've been with me since the beginning of blog time, you may remember this story and these pictures. I can't find the earlier post, or I would just re-run it. My cousin, Ann, grew up in Africa, and we only saw our cousins every four years.  But it never seemed like that much time had elapsed when they came home. We usually didn't get to see them very much during their year home, because we lived far away from Minnesota, where they always stayed. Christmas was always very special at Grandma Swanson's house.

When we were all in high school, my sister and I had a great time getting better acquainted with Ann. Someone had sent her a subscription for Co-Ed Magazine way over there in Africa. Does anybody remember this magazine? I remember getting it through home ec. class and really enjoying it. Ann had written a letter to the editor, asking for some fashion advice for her year in America. She wanted to fit in at school. Unbelievably, they met her at the airport in NYC and did a makeover and did lovely story about her for the September, 1965 issue. I loved showing it off at school!

I think you'll be able to read the article and see the pictures better if you double click.

After this furlough, we rather lost touch with each other. I'm not sure why - we all went to college, got married, had kids, and got very involved in our adult lives. We never did correspond by mail for some reason, and that didn't change, unfortunately. It must have been about 15 years ago when Vicki and I took a trip to Minnesota to visit her while she was home, and to meet her husband and children. It was amazing how at home we felt with each other - as if we had seen each other regularly over these many years.

We finally began keeping in touch at least once in awhile, by e-mail of course. Then she got a good phone plan and we talked over the many miles and it sounded as if she were next door. We still didn't get together often, but we felt so close. We had things in common, not specifically, but generally - the fact that we had children going through rough stuff

Ann came to visit my sister and me after her dad, our uncle Al, died two summers ago.  We've been privileged now to keep in touch by Facebook, which has been a blessing.  Recently, if you are up on international news, you may have read or heard about the military coup which took over the government in Mali a small central African country where Ann and her family have lived for close to 30 years.  Two of their daughters have been there teaching English this past year and they've been so happy to be together in the same city.  When the coup happened, they didn't quite know what to do about leaving or staying.  Eventually, Larry and Ann were told to evacuate and join their missionary team in the country of The Gambia.  But they had to wait until their daughters' families were released from their schools, ironically schools overseen by the American Embassy.  Strange, it seemed to me!  

They finally were able to leave at dawn on a Saturday morning, and spent the next 3 days driving through desert country and heat with two cars, 6 adults, and 2 little ones.  I have discovered in my dealings with missionaries over many years, that they are resourceful and adaptable.  They made the best of a tough situation, picnicking along the way.


 They had to go through the country of Senegal to reach The Gambia.  One of the days, they had some fun in one of the huge, spreading trees of the area.

 I haven't heard any details in the last week, but last I knew, they were with their missions team in a lovely setting on the ocean, enjoying cool breezes, fellowship, and a conference.  The young folks are teaching via internet all over the world.  I'm hoping to hear more soon.  I know they're all hoping to return to their home soon. 

Have a wonderful week-end!

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Yard is Full of Memories

Before I begin, I just want to rant a tad - JUST WHAT I NEED - A CHANGE OF EVERYTHING IN BLOGGER.  Why can't anybody just leave well enough alone.   I just got hit with Timeline on Facebook, which I have been dreading.  And no, I still don't like it.  Oh, well - nothing ever stays the same.

Which, of course, includes things in nature.  But I have to say - my yard is my refuge (except when the kid next door decides to wash all the cars in his family with his music on full blast).  July 1, it will be 34 years that we have lived in this house.  I have posted about the yard off and on over the years, showing the beginnings and the changes.  

This particular trip down memory lane began when we discovered that the lilac bush in the far back corner of the yard had finally bloomed - about 10 years after we transplanted it there.  It came from Minnesota as a little stick, brought by my brother from my Grandma Swanson's yard, before she went to a smaller house, then the nursing home, then to heaven.  The property sat there unchanged for many years after it was no longer hers, so we grandkids went exploring there at different times.  We used to play in the ditch where there was a profusion of these lilacs. 

This is my little tiny grandma that I have posted about a few times before.  She was my wonderful farming, cooking, baking, strawberry and cucumber picking grandma (as opposed to my other wonderful grandma who had a job, bowled, and brought pop and goodies home from the bakery).  

 This was taken at the nursing time the last time I saw her, when she was seeing her first great granddaughter for the first and last time - Kristen at about 18 months.  

 One year when Dwight's folks went back to visit family in Wisconsin, they brought us back two gifts from the woods behind his grandma's house.  This blue spruce was about 2 feet tall - and now it is at least 20.  


 This maple tree was a tiny sapling when we transplanted it from Wisconsin.  The next spring, when things came back to life, lo and behold there was a beautiful variety of wild flowers growing around the tree.  Turns out that these woodsy flowers had traveled to Colorado in the ball of dirt around the tree's roots.  What a nice surprise - especially the raspberry bushes that we moved to a good spot, and have enjoyed every summer since.

 Then there's the spot where our sweet little dachshund, Fritzie, lies in rest after entertaining and loving us unconditionally for 14 years.  He died on Valentine's Day, the day after Kevin's 19th birthday, in his own little bed in the basement.  We couldn't stand to send him anywhere, so we probably broke the law (don't tell anybody!)  The marker is still there, 16 years later, in what used to be the garden.  


Right outside the garden area is an apple tree, at least 12 feet tall.  It brings back another lovely memory.  It was during the time when we saw our step grandson, Anthony, a lot.  He asked me one day where apples came from.  I showed him the seeds in the apple he was eating and told him that's how they started.  He asked if we could plant a seed, so we planted two - in the flower bed right off the patio.  I never dreamed (and Kristen says she can't believe it because she was always planting seeds that never came up) that it would sprout so quickly.  By the end of that summer, Dwight transplanted the larger one out to the back part of the yard.  Anthony asked me at that time when it would have apples.  I told him probably about the time he went to college - he's 14 now, so that might be about right.

The first spring in our house, when we were putting in our yard, Dwight was working horrific hours - he was in accounting and it was year end crunch time.  So I would go pick up the bushes a few at a time and plant them each day.  We had this nice bare root tree that hadn't been planted yet when the rains began.  Dwight had dug the six foot diameter, six foot deep hole and told me I must put it in the next day or it was going to die and we'd waste a lot of precious money.  That night - yep it rained, and filled the hole like a swimming pool.  We had also just fertilized the day before with the natural good stuff, and the whole yard was very soft and gooshy - and now was very soft and gooshy mud.  I got up very early that morning, donned Dwight's fishing waders, and headed into the mess.  I was scooping the water out with a bucket, getting my legs twisted up like a pretzel.  It's a wonder I didn't fall in.  Finally, I got the water to stay out long enough to be able to place the tree into the hole and scoop the mud back in to hold it in place.  Needless to say, of all the trees and bushes I planted or helped plant, this one holds a special place in my heart.  It is huge.  And of course it looks much lovelier when it is in full leaf.

We have always wanted a variety of irises, and last year we were privileged to see the fruits of the planting the previous fall, from rhizomes given to us by our champion iris-growing friend, who knows each of her flowers by name.  We're excited to see how they do this year when the time comes.

The daffodils and tulips are coming in profusion now, as well as windflowers and tiny little forget-me-nots.  But this is the first flower I took a picture of this spring - such an interesting, different tulip.  I love them all, and am sad when they are gone.

Have a blessed week-end!