I’m just being upfront. I am not ready for fall. The kids are ten days into school and I still just can’t get myself to lean into it.
We had a really great summer. We started the summer in Niagara Falls by way of Michigan. We visited an insanely large Christmas store, enjoyed the beaches of three of the Great Lakes, stood in a tree canopy in Michigan, Graham played in a beautiful park with his Michigan cousins, and all four of us found ourselves in tunnels dug right below Niagara Falls. I was astounded to learn that the United States and Canada both pull water out of the river into water reservoirs before the water can ever go over the Falls. That means that what goes over the falls is only a portion of what could actually go over the falls. To stand there and feel the mist and hear the rush of water it’s hard to believe that it’s only a portion of what could be. For me, it felt a little bit like life…work, school, Grace, it all comes crashing over us. I definitely need to work on ways to divert some of that stress though. Even Niagara Falls doesn’t have to handle all of the load!
We spent time outside. Graham and Grace both played baseball. Graham and Kevin rode bikes. We ate our share of hamburgers off the grill and drank plenty of lemonade. We checked items off our summer bucket list. We took in Matchstick Marvels, stayed up late, saw fireworks, made it to the state fair, got frozen yogurt at Orange Leaf, watched Toy Story 4 and Secret Life of Pets 2. We went on vacation, went to an Iowa Cubs game, and made it to Farmer’s Day. Graham took swimming lessons. Grace made trips to the zoo and the mall.
Graham had a lemonade stand and it was so fun to see our neighborhood show up. Graham loves to tell the story of a man who paid a quarter for a piece of ice for his dog.
Grace and Graham both grew. Grace has one pair of pants for fall. Graham has two leftover pairs from last year, one has a rip on one knee. Last weekend he tried on long sleeve shirts. Only three made the cut. One is questionable, but his absolute favorite.
We bought all the school supplies early in August. Grace chose unicorns and sparkles on her notebooks. Graham chose Avengers and Toy Story 4 on his. We updated Grace’s resume for her teachers at school. We got orders for school from the pediatrician. We watched the emails to assure transportation for Grace and get Graham signed up for before and after school care. We met the teachers – but it still doesn’t seem real.
Grace stayed healthy this summer. Although there was enough going on with her peers there were days I longed to just wrap her in bubble wrap and never let her out of the house. Her vulnerability scares me.
We made one trip to Minnesota. We found out on that trip that her Vagus Nerve Stimulator (VNS) battery was really low. This news a bit outweighed by all the feelings in our final conversation with Dr. Doescher. Her VNS was originally implanted when she was done with kindergarten. It regularly sends an electronic signal to her brain to try and keep her brain waves in line. When they get out of alignment the chance for seizures increases. Now in her second week of seventh grade it was replaced. Surgery yesterday went fairly smoothly but there was enough pre-op drama to keep both Kevin and I on edge. I just kept thinking it’s a fairly easy surgery compared to some of the other ones she’s had. There are still risks with an easy surgery though. Now that it’s done, she has the latest and greatest VNS. This device will try and calm her disorganized brain waves by firing at a higher level when it detects her heart rate going up. Three summers ago, when she spent so much time in the ICU I vividly remember watching her heart rate go up before I saw a seizure. I know this technology will be important for her. I’m also comforted that we are getting this done while Dr. Doescher is still technically on duty. She’s been having more seizures so we are hoping a refreshed battery might just be the ticket to get back to where we were. With introducing the stress of school every day it’s hard to know what is causing this increase. Whatever it is I don’t like it!
This summer we laughed. We cried. We snuggled. I took way too many pictures. It felt like we lived without constraints and with a certain amount of freedom I don’t feel during the school year. We kept fairly consistent bedtimes, because both of our kids need that in their own ways. It’s the morning that really changes around here during the school year. Grace has to get up early. Kevin has to get her started before the nurse gets here so it can all be done on time. Graham prefers a leisurely start and that’s hard to do with the demands of a school/workday ahead of us. Our nurse also gave Grace some baths during the day over the summer. This freed up our evenings. Fall means bath nights at our house begin again. If a bath night is the same as a pooping night easily an hour and a half to two hours of my night will consist of taking care of Grace. This is after supper, Graham doing his homework, and getting Graham to bed. Those nights I feel like we don’t get a break. I felt so spoiled this summer that I had time to do some things for me.
So here we are, the Labor Day weekend over. The calendar has moved into September. All our obligations are written carefully on the calendar in our hall. It’s time to embrace the madness. I want to try and do it while making sure that we find some space to breathe. I want us to find space to laugh and snuggle. I want to make sure we get outside. Graham and Grace are both playing fall baseball, surely that will keep some summer in our hearts. Perhaps we will make a school year bucket list. Is that a thing? Even if it isn’t I think we need to make it one.