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Everything Changes

I’ve been a bit hung up on this post so I guess it is what it is. I will take one more stab at it before posting and moving on. I am torn between too much detail and not enough.

So there we were cruising through our holiday season and boom. Everything changed. On Wednesday, December 18 my mother suffered a severe stroke. Her husband Jack found her collapsed in the bedroom and called an ambulance. She was brought to her local hospital in Indiana and calls were made.

I didn’t quite understand how bad it was. Or maybe I wasn’t ready to understand yet. But I waited for more info and made plans to drive to Indiana on Thursday after Canyon’s school day was done.

My sister needed to drive to Northfield, MN to pick up my niece and her boyfriend for holiday break so I went alone.

This was the first time I have really been away by myself in years. I know it sounds crazy, but I have never spent a night away from River and Raven only brief hospital stays kept me from Canyon-and even then I would see him during the day.

The weather was warm and wet for December but the roads were clear. I listened to music and tried not to panic. But the closer I got to Plymouth the more anxious I became. I stopped at a Burger King to use the bathroom and fill up my water bottle. I took a paper crown to wear as inspiration.

A few miles from Plymouth and things started to take an ominious turn. Cruising along the divided highway, a pickup truck travelling the opposite direction lost control and came barreling down through the sloped grass median, kicking up snow and finally regained control just before crashing into traffic. I watched this all happening in what felt like slow motion, the sad news story already playing in my head-“Mother of three dies while trying to visit her own mother in hospital”.

A mile later a large, black wolf-like dog was eating a dead deer in the median. What the hell Universe???

And then I was at the hospital.

I took photos of my mother when I arrived. I know she would not appreciate my sharing them so I won’t. But I will post a photo of her lovely holiday nails.


The first few hours I was just happy to be there with her. She could recognize me and nod to acknowledge that she knew who I was. But she was unable to speak and her right side was paralyzed. It was scary.

The rest of the story is long and exhausting so I will fast forward.

We were not happy with the quality of the care we were receiving in Indiana and I made that clear. They also were not happy with the assertive, intelligent and demanding me so Mom was transferred to Loyola Medical Center in Chicago. This was great for everyone.

She spent a few weeks at Loyola-first in the Neuro Intensive Care Unit and then on a step down floor. Because she can not swallow she can not eat so she had surgery to implant a Gastronomy Tube (G-tube or Feeding Tube). Jenny and I had to then find a suitable care facility for her more long term care. I researched on the internet for a great Rehabilitation Center in my zip code. Lucky for us we found a great place near my sister and I with great ratings and a wonderful facility. And that’s where Mom is now.

While she is getting stronger and we are encouraged by her progress, there is still a long way to go. She is still paralyzed on her right side, can not eat or speak. But she is mentally aware and we get laughs, smiles and some vocalizations. She works hard in her therapy sessions. Recovery from a severe stroke is hard work with no guarantees. We hope for the best.

If you would like to follow along with her recovery please come over to her Caring Bridge site under Gloria Cummins. I post photos and updates.

And we welcome your prayers, mojo, blessings, thoughts, intentions, etc.



Gingerbread Houses and Classroom Fun

Thursday Dec 18

Canyon attends pre-school in the morning. The school does not do two separate morning and afternoon holiday programs so instead of Canyon getting up and “singing” a song or performing in an assembly the morning kids and their families made gingerbread houses. A fun compromise!





One of our homework assignments was to make a Gingerbread Boy for Canyon. I think even without the name you would guess it was his. Wild blonde hair, tie dye Yo Gabba Gabba t-shirt and lots of glitter!


We also made a house of our family traditions. I love these assignments! Reading our list of Holiday Traditions now I see that we did do all but one-Zoolights never happened for us this year. We hit a giant road bump this holiday season which I will share in the next post so I feel lucky that we experienced as much as we did.


After school Canyon played in the snow for a bit and then we were back home.



Our Annual Visit to Frank’s House

Dec 17 continued…

After the holiday program and the extremely long wait to see Santa we were all super tired. But, we were also all dressed and in the card so we headed over to one of the Major Must Do’s on our Holiday Priority List. Visit Frank’s House in Logan Square.

Frank’s House is this beautiful old house that goes completely over the top with holiday lights and decorations each year. The only reason we know it is Frank’s House is because one year WGN did a story on it and how they still had the decorations up in March. So we know it is Frank’s House and we know that we love it and we know that we have to go. So we went!





Nature added to the light show with a stunning full moon.












Santa. We Fear Him.





So I think we have established that River and Raven do not like being plopped down on the laps of jolly, bearded strangers.


Co-Op Christmas

Tuesday, December 17

It was holiday pageant time once again at the Christian Parent’s Co-Op. The night when all the kids-nursery to age 4 put on their holiday finery and parade up on stage to sing and ring jingle bells and entertains their friends and family who have gathered for the show. I love these pageants. Especially now that I have given up all hope that my children will ever enjoy them!

Canyon was never a fan of the programs but Canyon is Canyon. I thought maybe River and Raven would like them. Nope. They run away. Or scream. Or cry. Or all three. My sister Jennifer has been kind enough to volunteer at the last few special events so she can try to wrangle the twins so that John and I can watch from the audience. This year River started screaming for me right away so I just said, “so be it!” and hopped up on stage with her. Where she still tried to get away. And then she saw the microphone on the front pew and decided to bring that up on stage.





I wish I could say she turned that thing on and rapped some fat, freestyle beats along to “Jingle Bells” but no. She just turned her back on the audience and stared at her classmates. Still pretty funny!

Raven just wanted to get away.



Canyon was having a great time! He no longer attends co-op so he was just there as an enthusiastic spectator.



After the show everyone gathers for a potluck treats and social time. And here’s where our Christmas Miracle happened. All three of our kids sat still for like, fifteen minutes! Just ate treats, drank milk and hung out. It was awesome. Canyon even wore a cute headband!

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Then there was time for some running around while we waited to see a certain special someone.



Of course we were the last family to see him and by this time everyone was a little tired…



Sunrise Trees

Driving Canyon to school in the winter is cold and sometimes slippery but the pay off is morning light. I dropped him off the other day and went to run some errands. I saw these trees while I was at a stop sign, thought it was too much to turn around and take a photo, drove three blocks, turned around and took them! So glad I did!






Santa Has Great Taste in Playmobil!

Canyon’s teacher sent home a letter saying that the school had been adopted by a local business who wanted to play Santa and purchase a gift for each student. The older kids would write letters to Santa but Canyon’s pre-school class should send a list of a $25 toy that the child would enjoy.

To us, $25 is a lot of money for a toy so we took the request seriously. We knew he would like Playmobil and sent over a list of stock numbers of about 4 toys. I never thought anyone would actually take the time to go out and find one of them and purchase such an expensive gift, but we sent it over anyway.

On Santa Day Canyon bursts out of the side door of the school holding one of his wish list items, the Playmobil bus! Wow! Then his teacher says, “Canyon really scored, the Native American set is in his back pack!” WOW!





So whoever drew Canyon’s name out of the hat was so inspired that they bought him TWO of his wish list items! I am sending over these photos so hopefully his Secret Santa can see how much we appreciate that they took the time and expense to make him happy. He loves the bus so much he slept with it for about 5 days. And drove it through the Native American village a few times…


Deck The Halls of Our Home…Fa La La La La…The Kids Are Breaking All My Ornaments…

I knew this Holiday Season would be hectic so I made a list early on of the things that I wanted to make sure we did. It was ambitious, but not ridiculous. One item was get the Solstice/Christmas Tree up and decorated and hang lights. I recruited the children to help. Well, really, I didn’t have a choice. They were going to help no matter what!



Raven is watching “Sesame Street.” The kid can watch “Monster’s Inc”, “Brave”, “How To Train Your Dragon” -movies that are much scarier-with no problems but for some reason that episode of “Sesame Street” was a nail biter!


Side note-I am obsessed with these hand me down Christmas jammies. He could wear them 24/7 and I would still be delighted.




When it came to the tree was a bit stuck. I didn’t want to load everyone up in the cold van to pick one out at Home Depot and I didn’t want to try to get it by myself. So I asked John to go pick one up. He was wisely all “No way! What if you hate it?” “I won’t hate it. I just want a tree. Please go get me a stupid, cheap as possible tree from Home Depot.” He agreed and I practiced pretending not to hate it. He grabbed one that was the right height, the right price and totally wrapped up and frozen so he had no idea what it looked like.

It was perfect! I didn’t have to lie at all! So disappointed I didn’t get to use that expensive acting degree I have!


I told myself not to put up any glass ornaments, nothing precious or breakable. Lots of wood, plastic and felt. But there are a few ornaments that I just love and it wouldn’t feel like the holidays without.


And after the kids managed to break two of them I rescued my Grateful Dead “Steal Your Face” ornament and put it back in the basement until it is safe to come back out and join the wood, plastic and felt ornaments.