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Showing posts with label life stories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label life stories. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Pool Tales: The Final Chapter

 When we bought this house nearly eleven years ago, this was the view from our patio off the back of our old farmhouse.  We never cared much about having our own swimming pool, but since it was already here, that was pretty awesome.  Except for the fact that I had two preschoolers, a toddler, and an infant, and as you can see, there was no fence around the pool.  But it was an incredible view, and at night, the moonlight reflected off the water, and the stars were so bright overhead, and I thought my husband and I would spend every summer night on rafts in this pool.  We'd float around in the quiet watching fireflies and sipping some wine or a Gin & Tonic after the little ones had gone to bed with the baby monitor plugged in next to us.  I'm not sure what I imagined our teenage son doing at the time...listening to music, watching a movie, reading a book?  It doesn't really matter because we only ever ventured into that pool by ourselves one time at night anyway.

 Because here's what no one ever told me about having a swimming pool in the country on the side of the mountain: all kinds of creatures come to the pool...especially at night.  We had already seen the multitudes of long, thick black snakes slither up from under the concrete each May when the weather got warm and we were just opening up the pool.  Sometimes early in the season, we'd be floating in the water on a sunny afternoon and two or three snakes would come slithering along the concrete and off into the grass.  We discovered early on that mice, birds, moles, and even an occasional rabbit came to the pool at night and then drowned in the water early in the morning.  We've had Amish neighbors' geese and ducks show up there, and one time, even a cow!  Of course, lots and lots of insects, centipedes, and spiders are also drawn to the water, and that means when it gets dark, the bats come too.

The first night that my husband and I actually got the kids to bed without us falling asleep in the process, we poured ourselves some vino and sneaked out to the pool.  Never mind that the boys' room looked out over the pool; we'd just quietly step in for a quick dip, and they'd never know we were out there.  We were in the water sipping wine looking at those magnificent stars and feeling like the luckiest couple on earth.  This was paradise; who needs a vacation?  That was until I felt something swoosh down and brush against my hair.  Then it happened again and again.  My husband felt it too.  We looked up and there were bats swooping down to catch the bugs flying around and landing on the water.  And they didn't stop.  And I was done.  No matter how quiet, peaceful, or romantic of a night this was, there was no room for bats in my vision.  And we never did that again.  I figured that one day in the future, when our kids would be older and in school or out of the house, we'd go out there alone again while it was still daylight when the bats were wherever they go at night around here.  I don't want to think too hard about that.

But alas, that is not meant to be because this past winter our pool liner ripped.  We noticed the water level going down after the pool was covered.  We knew that come spring, we would have to finally fork out the money to have it replaced.  We weren't thrilled about it, but we were prepared.  But things just got worse.  With each violent storm we got this winter and early spring, the situation got worse and worse.  Pieces of the liner tore and blew all over the yard and lane.  Where the pool cover had pulled away, it looked to me like concrete was starting to crumble, and was that actual dirt falling into the pool?  When I made the call to the swimming pool business and told them we might need a little bit more than just a new liner, he asked me to send him pictures.  I knew it must be bad.

 After receiving several quotes of upwards of $15,000, I told my husband we just weren't going to do it.  After the first month that we have it open, our kids lose interest in swimming in it.  Last year after lunch each day, I had to force them to spend an hour in the pool because their dad and I had just spent hundreds of dollars on more pool chemicals and hours of our time cleaning it.  I literally had to set a timer to ensure they'd be out there a full hour.  I realize how ridiculous this sounds now and I wonder why we went on as long as we did.  So this Memorial Day weekend, instead of pulling off the pool cover, vacuuming up hundreds of tadpoles, and pouring in pounds and pounds of chlorine and stabilizer to get our pool ready for the summer, we'll be waiting for equipment to show up to begin breaking up the concrete and filling in our pool.  It feels rather sad because it's yet another reminder that an era of our life here is coming to an end.  Our youngest five children have grown up here, and their memories of summer are spattered with learning to swim, diving for toys, swimming until their teeth chatter from the 66 degree water temperature in early June, and eating popsicles around the pool.  Our summers will be different.

But there is a silver lining to this final chapter of my tale: I have big plans for that nice flat area on this side of the mountain.  Once it's all filled in, and it's covered in thick, green grass, I have my eye on some canopies, outdoor tables and Adirondack chairs, some wonderful fire pits that can also be used for tables, a tiki bar, and fairy lights.  I can see some fantastic farm-to-table dinners out there with lots of friends and family gathered together.  The moonlight won't be reflecting off the pool anymore, but the stars will be just as bright, and it will be just as peaceful as it has always been.

And I'm trusting that the bats won't find our back yard as enticing as it was before.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

To the Church, a Party, & the Hospital: A First Communion Story

As we are preparing for our youngest daughter's First Holy Communion later this month, my mind keeps returning to the night she was born, which also happened to be the same night we celebrated her older brother's First Communion.  As joyous of an occasion that the Sacrament is, this was one twenty-four hour period of time I would definitely not want to relive.

Let me preface this day with some facts:

Fact #1: Our daughter's due date was still a week away, but I typically delivered my babies about a week early.  All I could think about was my water breaking in church while we were standing in one of the front pews, leaving my family mortified.  Or I would go into labor earlier in the day, and my husband and I would miss the entire event.  I did some earnest praying all week that the birth of this baby would hold off until after our son took his First Communion, and preferably wait until the end of the party we were having at our house afterwards.

Fact #2: A stomach virus went through our house that week, and it was the worst one I'd ever seen in my family.  Every two days, a different family member was sick around the clock for about forty-eight hours.  Nothing stayed down, and with a house full of toddlers and young children, this meant a lot of disinfectant used throughout the house.  I was exhausted from being up all night with little ones and constantly washing sheets, mopping floors, wiping down walls, and comforting children and a husband who felt absolutely miserable.  But I hadn't gotten sick myself.

Fact #3: When I had the appointment with my midwife earlier that week, I mentioned this illness to her and said surely I wouldn't get sick while I was in labor.  That God would be merciful and spare me that at least.  The midwife looked dubious, and said she couldn't guarantee that, but she had seen women who had a similar virus, and the vomiting helped induce the labor.  So along with praying that labor would wait until after First Communion, I also began fervently praying that this stomach bug might somehow skip right over me.

Two nights before the big day, our eight year-old son came down with this virus.  I honestly thought we were going to have to back out of it.  But he rallied and was fine by the day of the Mass, and miraculously, we had not a single sick family member in our house by the time all of our company arrived.  Only our six year-old daughter and I had been spared.  I felt tired, heavy, achy, and as if I would pop at any moment, but I hadn't gotten sick, and I hadn't gone into labor.  We would all be at the Church, and no one would miss our son's First Holy Communion after all.

And everything did go according to plan.  Our sixteen year-old son was an altar server at this special Mass.  We were all there to witness it, and take pictures, and celebrate this Sacrament with our second-grader.  Then we came home and celebrated some more with lots of good food, toasts of champagne, cake, gifts, and family.  I was still nervous about going into labor and getting sick, so I ate very little.  Our guests began going home around eight, and we had cleaned up the kitchen and gone to bed by a reasonable hour.

That didn't last long, however, because I awoke around midnight with that dreadful feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when of of those viruses hits.  And it was horrible; like, in the top five worst nights of my life kind of horrible.  Then my water broke.  And then I started to cry.

Since this was my sixth baby, and we lived twenty-five minutes from the nearest hospital, my husband didn't want to wait around.  Fortunately, my parents-in-law were spending the weekend with us, so we left the children in their care while we headed to the emergency room with a large bucket carried beneath my chin the entire time.

We checked in at the hospital around two in the morning, and I learned that I had a long way to go.  Labor coupled with a stomach virus has got to be one of the lousiest combinations ever.  But one good thing came out of it: Zofran---which was in my IV drip continuously for many hours.  It didn't stop the nausea completely, but it was definitely an improvement.

I won't go into all the details of the labor and delivery, but I will say that the eleven hour labor won second place for my worst birthing experience.  It was only topped by her red-headed brother who took a full forty-eight hours of incredible pain before he finally made his appearance.  I went into this labor intending to tackle it naturally like I'd done with most of my children (even the red haired one.)  I had this noble notion of holding my Rosary beads and praying a Hail Mary through each contraction, but after a couple of hours when I could barely even breathe through the pains, I abandoned that idea.  And I asked for the pain meds, which I had never done before.  Then when I was finally far enough along, I asked for the epidural too.  And finally, around 11:30 AM, our youngest daughter (and last child) was born, fifteen hours after her brother's First Communion party ended.

So as luck would have it, it turns out that I didn't miss out on anything...not even the stomach bug.