Friday, September 26, 2008

The Tip of a Mountain

"The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome.
The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valley to traverse."
Helen Keller

Most of you have watched the Price is Right and hopefully remember the game where the little hill climber goes steadily up the mountain as some giddy yodeling music plays in the background...well--if I could pinpoint the feeling of our climb to the place we have arrived at today that is similar to what I envision. However, on the Price is Right when the little mountain climber reaches the top of the hill he helplessly topples over the tip of the mountain, yet I feel like we are standing on the top of Mt. Everest waving a big red flag that says "WE FINALLY MADE IT"!!!

Ben got sworn in as an official attorney in the historic Buncombe County Superior Courtroom this afternoon--a monumental moment for us all. When asked why he wanted to pursue this career path he said "it is a job that I can enjoy and that has some redeeming societal value knowing that I can help people". Being a service provider myself I find this special as well as comforting knowing we have this similar, yet different, view of taking care of others.

After 3 years of law school, living hundreds of miles away, preparing for the bar and then the grueling month of waiting for the results, a cut and infected leg, and a rigorous move home we are finally at the end of the cycle of frustration and are relishing in the victory of RELIEF! I say "we" like I got sworn in too...but truly, I feel as happy as if it were happening directly to us as a family as much as it was to Ben personally, and it was. We did this together and it's so nice knowing that we can check this very big goal off of the "to-do" list of our life.

Thank you to our parents, family, friends and my co-workers (who are among my very closest friends) who encouraged us and loved us even when we were grouchy, tired and unlovable --because we recognize that it was through your support that we are where we are today!

Cajes swearing to ALWAYS "tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."
(I may have to keep this picture on the refrigerator as a reminder of his oath, especially when he is a teenager.)

~Cajes on the witness stand~


"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
Martin Luther King Jr

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Celebrating 4 Years of Cajes!!

"Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous.
It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body."
Elizabeth Stone
Don-Don came up in the middle of the night to set up his birthday swing set and then drove home before Hurricane Hannah....

Cajes turned 4 last Monday and we are so proud of the little man he is turning out to be. He loves his new swing set, playing outside, going to pre-school, helping me and his daddy with anything we may be doing and playing with toys. He still loves Kasey Kahne, Indians, Pirates, being an Artist, Diego, Thomas the train, any fire and rescue vehicles, as well as any construction equipment, and especially Jesus and angels…

We had a little party on Saturday the 6th to celebrate with some of our friends and family—please forgive me for not mentioning everyone by name— then Sunday we went downtown to the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival with Aunt Kim who came in to town especially for the party. On Monday Mamaw wanted to take Cajes to the fair for his actual birth day and that was a lot of fun, minus the freak show component located conveniently in the kiddie area nonetheless. Cajes enjoyed the few rides he rode, especially pretending he was a race car driver and mostly just playing the silly rigged games that the fair gouges families with. We did take home a plastic sword and a stuffed bear and that made it all worth the while for Cajes.


In light of Cajes turning 4, I felt compelled to share the story of Cajes’s birth, as it was the most pivotal and important moment in all of my life—also one of the most memorable and amusing in hindsight. For those of you who know this story don’t feel obliged to re-live it through the narrative below…but for those of you who haven’t heard this story or who have forgotten it, feel free to read and laugh…as it is hard not to.

This excerpt was taken out of the front of Cajes’s baby book:

"Your birth was a surreal experience that began at 6PM on Monday the 6th (of September 2004 for those of you not familiar with this story)… Labor Day nonetheless…When we went in to Labor and Delivery they wanted to “ripen” my cervix overnight with medicine called Cervadil. At 6AM on the morning of the 7th a nurse resembling Attila the Hun comes barreling in to our room where your dad and I were sleeping comfortably and announced that if I had any intention of getting an Epidural that day that I needed to go ahead and get the line put in now because there were back to back C-Sections lined up for the day— and I had to decide right then, without wiping the sleep from my eyes, whether I wanted one or not. Erring on the side of caution I agreed to go ahead and get it because I had been a labor coach twice before and I was not disillusioned enough to think I could possibly push something the size of a football (or maybe larger) out of me without medication. By 7AM I had been visited by the anesthesiologist and was prepped and ready with the Epidural line hanging out of my back.

By this time Hurricane Frances was starting to flood Asheville, as water was rising in Biltmore Village at a rapid pace and the nurses were all buzzing around discussing the effects of the storm and comparing notes on who had it the worst at their house—whose road was washed out, whose barn was flooded and how many other nurses weren’t showing up for their shifts. Meanwhile I am hooked up to a Pitocin drip and labor progressed. By 2PM I had only dilated to 3 cm. Dr. Travis thought we could and should speed things up by breaking my water. Keep in mind I had not received any medication at this point, only gotten the line inserted….I should have thought about that before allowing my water to be broken because for those of you uninformed about obstetrics it requires the doctor to insert their hand and a hook into places that strangers aren’t welcomed gladly. Once that agonizing procedure was complete real labor became very painful. Contractions were coming rapidly—one on top of the next and I finally decided I wanted the drugs…tap my line. The rest of the day was spent….well, laboring.

When midnight arrived and I hadn’t dilated beyond 4 cm. Dr. Travis highly encouraged us to get a C-Section as the window of opportunity for Cajes to arrive on his own was slowly dwindling and his heart rate was going up and down. For hours the one sweet nurse who wasn’t immersed in the frenzy of the Hurricane kept coming in a flipping me from side to side to keep his heart rate in a normal range—God love her.

At 12:05 AM I was wheeled into the operating room shaking like a leaf from major fear combined with lots of medicine…at 12:26 AM on the 8th of September Cajes was born. All I remember of that moment was laying on the operating table, arms spread out like Jesus on the cross, and feeling certain this was the closest I had come to death in my life. However, in the background of my comatose state I could hear the nurses and anesthesiologists prepping me, talking about what was going on with the flood, who was coming to assist from what department all the while Paula Abdhul’s “Do, do you love me--tell me baby?” played on a radio. Then I heard Boys II Men…”So we’ve come to the end of the road…” and began to get more concerned that maybe I already was dead. At that point I was slipping in and out of consciousness until Ben arrived and the surgery began. Within minutes I heard Dr. Travis saying “He’s solid” and I mumbled trying to ask if they were sure he was a boy and if he had hair. Then he was passed to Ben who immediately began to console him as they stitched me up.

Lots of people were there to greet Cajes into the world—all of whom had waited since early morning and it was now the middle of Wednesday night…my parents, Ben’s parents, Mamaw, Aunt Carol, Uncle Ted and Heather. Cajes was like a king being born—the first grandchild on both sides of the family and the first boy on my mom’s side of the family in 53 years—hence me asking if they were positive he was a boy. Ben and I were overcome with love and were awestruck from the moment we saw him.

Because I was Strep B positive and he had a slight temperature (less than 2 degrees) the Pediatrician felt like he should go on antibiotics until meningitis could be absolutely ruled out. I was so still delirious they could have told me they sold him to the circus and I wouldn’t have put up a fuss…because when I say they gave me drugs I mean major drugs like morphine combined with other mind numbing medicines. Thank God Ben had the wherewithal to follow the Doctors and Cajes up to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and make sure he got settled in comfortably. I was in a recovery room as they prepped a room in the Mother/Baby unit for us. I didn’t realize they intended on keeping Cajes in the NICU for 4 more days…but later found out it was precautionary.

As Cajes was getting settled in the NICU they attempted to get us settled in Mother/Baby. Just as soon as all of our family left to go home and sleep in their nice cozy beds the power in the hospital went out because of Hurricane Frances. Now I’m sure you are thinking—they must have back up power, and yes they do…but it runs only a minimal amount of electricity. This does not include the air conditioning!! After the major surgery of a C-section I was forced to lie in my own sweat and filth feeling like spiders were weaving a web in my hair as bugs were coming out of my skin from the Morphine leaving my body. Ben was so exhausted that he started snoring obnoxiously on the little couch in our room. At this point I was miserable and began throwing things at him to startle him in an attempt to stop the snoring long enough for me to go to sleep—to no avail. Finally I called the nurse and she got me some sleep medicine and a sip, and I mean SIP of water to take the pill. I begged for ice chips or anything to help cool me off—but they were already under alert that the hospital would likely lose water as a major pipe had busted somewhere up the road. So, I lay there frustrated until I got so mad I literally got up and hobbled down to the nurse’s station. They stood in shock, looking at me like a deer in headlights, as I had only been stitched up 2 hours ago and I was bent over like I suffered from acute Osteoporosis. Thank God I knew one of the nurse practitioners and she helped me back to my room with a BIG cup of ice this time…and the rest of the night I relished each piece of that ice as I knew it would be my last for several days.

Biltmore Village on Sept. 9th

Morning came and we were able to visit Cajes as much as we wanted but I was forced to lug around an IV and a bag of my own urine until they took the catheter out later that day. As we got upstairs the first time that morning we saw that the water had risen to the windows of Wendy’s and McDonald’s in Biltmore…by lunch it was to the roof. The whole hospital was stirring with panic as they had just gotten the air back on when they lost water and had no way to flush toilets, make meals, wash linens, etc…and this wasn’t just for that day…this was the case for the rest of our stay with Mission/St. Joseph’s. Whenever we needed to go to the bathroom Ben had to go out and retrieve a 5 gallon bucket of water from a community trash can full of water located in the middle of each hallway, come back and dump it into the toilet. For the rest of our visit we were allotted 1 gallon of water per day to use in our room as needed, (i.e. brushing our teeth, sponge bathing, etc). On top of that we were only served boxed meals that required no preparation or clean up. After being without food since Monday night’s induction, by Thursday I was pretty hungry. My mom and Aunt Carol were gracious enough to bring me homemade chicken and dumplings and to tote jugged water up to my room to wash my hair over the sink because not only had I not eaten a hot meal, I also had not been able to shower or bathe due to the water outage. Now for some people this might be okay…but I take a shower daily and even if I didn’t after being in the hospital since Monday, going through labor and delivery of a 9lb and 5oz bundle of love then sweating out the drugs like I was in Celebrity Rehab, rest assured I needed one. But no. No shower for me until I actually got released on Saturday with baby in tow and returned to our home in Weaverville where my new challenge became climbing 15 stairs to get to our bedroom and bathroom. "

All in all I can laugh about this now— but believe me, when we got the hospital bill I felt like they should take a little bit off our tab for the lack of water, air, hot meals, and nurses who couldn’t focus on their jobs. After all, we could have bought a new car for the price of Cajes… But we surely wouldn’t trade him for the world, or a new Honda!

Four years later Cajes continues to be a source of pure joy and happiness and has been the most incredible thing that’s happened in our lives! Just the other night after we tucked him in to bed he said “Mom-mom, come here.” And I said “Yes honey?” Then he said “I like you…” and I leaned in to him saying “not as much as I love you” as I kissed his forehead. He then said “why do you kiss me so softly?” and I replied “because I love you.” Then he said “I like your soft kisses,” smiled his contagious smile, turned over and went to sleep. And as I shut the door to his room I was brought to tears as I thought of how special those memories will be when he is a teenager, a young man and then a father himself one day. And I thanked God for his sweetness when I went to bed that night.


Birthdays Gone By

~Cajes turns 1~

~Cajes turns 2~

~Cajes turns 3~

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"Congratulations Mr. Pitts"

Well.....the letter we have eagerly awaited has finally arrived.
Weeks of anticipation have ended in a huge sigh of relief and jumping-- joyful jubilation!!! Every mile, every tear, every late night,
every early morning, every borrowed dollar and every missed event has been made up for when we got this letter in the mail today!!
Ben was so kind to say it should have been addressed "Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Pitts" since we both struggled through this process and since we lean on each other in every moment of our lives. But the big accolades go to Ben!! We all feel so very proud of him! My love swells up for him and his accomplishments!

Inuksuk, Cairns or Zen Rock Piles

"Rocks pray too," said Grandad. "Pebbles and boulders
and old weathered hills. They are still and silent, and
those are two important ways to pray."

- Douglas Wood, Grandad's Prayers of the Earth.

If you look closely above~ there are 17 rocks stacked on the one big stone in the river...

Before Cajes was born Ben and I used to take Sunday drives (like the old married couple we are slowly morphing in to)...with one of our most favorite places to travel to for a day trip being Chimney Rock. Now... I'm not talking about the rock itself, where people come from miles around to hike and see pristine views--I'm talking about the river below the rock and a hole in the wall hot dog stand that we loved very dearly. When I say hole in the wall I speak honestly. This place was a dump....but they had these hot dogs baked inside of homemade yeast rolls for two bucks! And we loved them!!

Even after Cajes was born we would frequent our old hot dog stand periodically throughout the year before we moved to Burlington. Then somehow over the past three years our hot dog shangri la was demolished and a new log cabin retail building was erected in it's place!! UGH!! We were sad, pissed, and disheartened. I tried to re-create them for dinner tonight and it's just absolutely NOT the same. Nevertheless our favorite spot in the river was still there, Thank God.

~My Second Mother's Day with Cajes ~ 2006~

~Cajes and His Daddy ~ 2006~

~6 Months Old ~ 2005~

This is a special little spot for us that we have been going back to over and over for years. I even chose to spend my first Mother's Day at the river eating hot dogs. So we chose to spend this Labor Day revisiting our old stomping ground. And what we found in the river were several man-made Zen-like stacks of rocks. I know you are thinking--SO????....but when you look at them sitting quietly and motionless with this rapid flow of water flushing around them there is something quite magical about their presence. Something quite Zen.

I've always been fascinated by stacks of rocks like this--one more of those "little things" that I don't take for granted. I appreciate the patience and balance it took to get the rocks in the precise position to stay poised and steady despite the elements surrounding them. It's an artform of sorts. I was so mesmerized by them!! All the way home I thought about the rock piles... and I actually did some investigating only to find that these stacks of rocks actually have meaning behind them.

Some people call them Inuksuk. An inuksuk is a man-made stone landmark or cairn, used by the Inuit, Inupiat, Kalaallit, Yupik, and other peoples of the Arctic region of North America, from Alaska to Greenland. It is believed that the inuksuk may have been used for navigation, as a point of reference, a marker for hunting grounds, or as a food cache. The Inupiat in northern Alaska used inuksuit to assist in the herding of caribou into contained areas for slaughter--though this was explained thoroughly so I don't know the dynamics of how this would work. However, I learned that Inuksuit vary in shape and size, with deep roots in the Inuit culture.

Officials in various wilderness parks across Canada are forced to routinely dismantle inuksuit constructed by hikers and campers, for fear that they could misdirect park visitors from the actual cairns and other markers that mark various hiking trails. The practice of erecting inuksuit in parks has become so widespread that Killarney Provincial Park, on the north shore of Ontario's Georgian Bay, issued a notice in 2007 urging visitors to “stop the invasion” of inuksuit. Interesting!

We had a short but sweet trip and Cajes of course cried his eyes out when it was time to leave...

Below are some random photos taken around the house and by the river....Nothing of importance that I feel compelled to blog about--but thought they were interesting enough to share...

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.
- Anne Frank