Friday, November 30, 2012

Where is MY new Grandpa?!!

I have written posts a couple of other times about how technology is impacting my life and the life of my family in a profound way.  We had another episode the other day - Memphis driven - that I thought was hilarious and really thought provoking.

After Adam visited Colorado on Thanksgiving his brother Matt got motivated to figure out how to call us from his Ipad using Facetime.  Monday night he and Memphis called and there they were!  Those people that I get to talk to so rarely.  They were all smiles.  We got to see Memphis ride his bike.  I took them for a tour of the house.  I showed them my incision from my knee surgery and my brace.  And I had Walt put his face in the camera with me so that Memphis could see us together.

We talked to Memphis asking who we were.  He just sort of babbled.  We blew kisses to him.  He blew kisses to me.  Then I said "Blow Grandpa Walt some kisses", which he did and then we moved back to talking with Matt.

And then I hear this loud child's voice:  "Where's my Grandpa?"......  repeated....  "Where's MY Grandpa?  and again.... "WHERE'S MY GRANDPA?!"

I finally realized what he was saying and realized that he could only see MY face in the camera when I was talking to Matt right then.  He wanted to see Walt's face not mine because he had just discovered that he had a BRAND NEW grandpa that he didn't even know about.  And once he figured out that he HAD that grandpa he wanted to keep looking at him and keep talking to him.

So we did that and then the conversation would go back to Matt and I.  And then Memphis would yell "Where's MY grandpa?!" and I'd switch the camera back to Walt. We did this several times - maybe five or six times really!  Memphis just couldn't get enough of this new grandpa and Grandpa was one tickled guy too.

I've noticed with these babies using webcam calls that they don't struggle with the 3D and tactile version of people.  They are entirely comfortable with having a relationship with someone who lives inside of the phone or the computer. And then when they meet you in person they have no struggle accepting you in that realm too.  It is just fascinating how the use of these technologies that still seem like science fiction to me are accepted at an innate level at such an early age.

But....their parents' still have to dial the number and THEY and I are still very wrapped up in the 3D versions of each other.

Peace be with you and all that jazz....

PS.  I need to make sure you know that I have a financial incentive through Google to post about products that can be used with Ipad2. 

Copyright (c) 2012 - Chardale Irvine.  All rights reserved.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Stepping Off A Cliff of Hope

Be sure to click on Stepping-Off-A-Cliff-Into-Hope to get the rest of the story!

Much, much has happened over the last month.  Our lives are taking significant turn as we finally accept the reality that Walt is no longer able to work and will go on full disability shortly.  He has been on partial disability for several months trying to get a handle on his illness and injuries. He has been valiantly working with rehab, doctors and nutritionists to heal but things are just getting worse.

Because of his waning work hours our income has been steadily dropping and we finally reached the point where we knew we had to get out of the motor home and into a rental house in a community that allowed us both to continue accessing the medical care we have arranged.  We went house hunting in New Smyrna Beach because my CFIDS doctor had suggested that I be near the ocean as much as possible because of my asthma and lung disorder.  We found the most amazing little house on the first day. 

I had imagined moving into a yellow, clapboard house but the two houses we saw that were in our price range were white and blue/green.  We immediately fell in love with the blue/green house, which is 3 bedrooms, 2 baths. Nice hardwood and tile floors but in need of some paint and for real, a partial white picket fence. It is two blocks from the intercoastal waterway and 2.4 miles from the beach on the Atlantic Ocean. And I get to have my washer and dryer again! Oh and best of all:  the landlord said I can paint the outside doors pink JUST like the house I picked out in the canvas town of Dotsonville when I was four!

I signed the lease two days later.  Luckily there is plenty of room to park the motor home in the back yard.

Here it is:

There is a little mother-in-law apartment in the back, which was occupied when we moved in, but became vacant two weeks later.  The landlord offered it to us so we picked it up too, with the intent of renting it out as a vacation rental.  We have plans for this too:

I tore my right quad tendon on the third day we were moving stuff in.  We weren't even IN the house yet and I did that.  I'm not going to tell you what I was helping someone carry but needless to say that will be the last time I rest something heavy on my thigh, while repositioning my hands for a better grip.  This is where I ended up - the Bert Fish Medical Center ER. 

Two weeks post surgery I moved from a splint brace where I could not bend my knee to a progressive locking brace that allows for an inch and a half of bend.  The bandage is a sheet of some kind of plastic coated in Betadine covering the four inch incision.  I never have to change it and can shower with it uncovered. Miracle stuff.

And as the month progressed the reality of our shrinking financial base and with Walt facing one of the biggest and hardest transitions in his life we got ready to let the Prius go back to the bank because we had gotten so far behind on the payments and the concept of trying to get the MIL apartment ready to rent with no money, a broken knee and a very ill husband, we decided to ask for help.  And all of our "house" stuff sits in storage back in Colorado.

A plan formed in my mind as I lay awake most of last night, trying to figure out how to approach this dilemma.  We both have felt like the path that led to being in this exact place played out too smoothly to be anything other than a fairly grand design - of God?  Spirit?  The Universe?  I don't know - I just know it is a force greater than myself, of ourselves, that brought us here.  This is the moment to trust, have faith and take whatever action we are capable of.  It always feels just like stepping off a cliff to me.

After carefully budgeting and strategizing...we put up a GoFundMe donation page asking for help from our family and friends.  The response was immediate of support and empathy!  There was so much fear and vulnerability that went into embracing the idea of doing that and then actually publishing it.  I've explained the process much better on the GoFundMe site. Here is the link to check it out:  Stepping-Off-A-Cliff-Into-Hope  Anything you can do...even just a prayer is much appreciated.
The "curious journey" continues.  A soon to be published post will discuss the challenges of staying married when both people are very ill and how to find joy in every single day even when you feel like crap.  Until then:

Peace be with you and all that jazz....

Thank you,
Char & Walt Irvine
Copyright (c) 2012 - Chardale Irvine.  All rights reserved.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Technology and the Grandma Toddler Stalker

We have been on the road for three and a half years now and during that time we went from having two grandchildren to having six.  The first two we were able to spend quite a bit of time with.  The other four I have seen only once or twice and Walt hasn't met them at all.

When we lived in Colorado our oldest grandson, Shane, who just turned 11, came to visit us often with his dad Adam and when they visited they usually stayed several days so we were able to develop a strong bond.

Shane knew when he came to our house that there were two boxes kept in the garage that we only brought out for him.  He is kind of a shy guy so to encourage him to talk to me I wouldn't offer to bring the boxes out.  Instead, I would wait until he got the courage to ask and then we would go down to the garage together and carry the boxes upstairs.  It was our little ritual that made it known to all, and especially Shane, that he had a permanent place in our hearts and our house.

The old town on canvas from my childhood was in the boxes.  My parents had drawn a whole town on a six foot sheet of canvas when I was four and that had been our Christmas present along with a plastic train and many small plastic cars to drive around on the canvas town roads.  The name of the town is Dotsonville.  It was painstakingly colored with crayons and outlined in magic marker.

I had a bakery called Chardale's Bakery.  Sherone had a shoe store and Rob had a ranch with a ranch house.  Sherone and I had houses in the town proper which were not designated in writing with our names, as the businesses were, but being the bigger and more territorial sister I staked my homestead claim first and Sherone went second.  I'm sure I spent lots of time convincing her then 2 year old self that the house she was getting was perfect for her.  I probably lied to her and told her it was the nicer house and she would have believed me because she trusted me with her life. Mine had a garage and a driveway and a sidewalk with flowers planted along the edge.  Sherone had to park her cars on the canvas street because her house did not have a garage or driveway, nor did it have much of a sidewalk.  And frankly, the paint job on my house was much nicer.  My house was blue and pink.  Hers was yellow and brown.  Who knew that a four year old could have such clearly defined real estate preferences?

I definately did not have her best interests at heart most of the time but I DID save her from drowning in the canal in California when she was three so maybe somehow it all balances out.  Uh...probably no.  Although I've made my amends to her for that and she has absolved me I don't think I'll ever forgive myself for the times when I was mean to her.  She loved me unconditionally and still does.  I envy her capacity to naturally do that and I am grateful to have experienced that in my life.  And I grew up and love her unconditionally now.  She taught me how to do that.

I'm not sure how I ended up with Dotsonville on canvas because it belonged to my brother and sisters as well.  An attempt was made after my youngest sister Shaun was born to add her name to the town businesses but there definitely was an old-timer clique and she never quite felt like she belonged there but she still played with endlessly.  Perhaps I ended up with it because I had kids first?  Regardless of how I got it, I have it.  Somehow, probably through sheer tyranny, I ended up owning the whole town.

In those boxes in our garage also were a whole bunch of plastic army guys that Shane's Uncle Matt had given me for Christmas when he was in the 4th grade. An odd gift for a kid to give their mo right?  Not when you consider his reasoning.  He said he wanted to make sure I had something to play with at work in case I got bored. :)  (My suspicions are that he wanted to make sure there was something for HIM to play with when he and his siblings were with me at work when I was working overtime.  You can only have so much fun drawing on copy paper with government issue pens with black, blue or red ink and then stapling your artwork in every imaginable configuration.  There are also several matchbox size cars and a bigger green pickup truck painted to match the US Forest Service vehicle colors by one of my co-workers at the Boulder Ranger District long ago.

These busy, young parents who are out there, far away, are connected in ways never even imaginable to us.  Adam, in Utah, calls me with FaceTime on his Ipad and I'm able to see my one year old grand daughter Cadence crawl and check on her progress.  I get to see her big brother Shane and her dancing together to her favorite song "Moves Like Jagger".  I see her sign that she wants more music and dancing when the song ends.  Shane walked down the street from his mom's house in Circleville, UT and found an unsecured internet signal.  He FaceTimed with his dad who then three way called me into the conversation.

My stepdaughter Amanda has an Iphone, as do I, and we have FaceTimed several times when she is outside playing with our grandson Logan who is two.  Logan's daddy was in Irag most of the first year of Logan's life and he developed his relationship with his dad over Skype.  Here is the picture of Amanda and Logan meeting Brandon when he returned from his deployment.  You can see in Logan's eyes that there is no fear or uncertainty.  He is one hundred percent comfortable with the actual presence of his dad even though his relationship was developed over Skype

My daughter Kaycee is a single mom of our 4 year old grandson Henry.  We were around Henry alot the first year of his life so there is a bond there even though it gets more distant all the time.  She has been great about sending videos and pictures of him and we recently got set up on Skype as well.  We all have a mishmash of technology so finding "the" optimal way to communicate with each family is challenging.  Henry doesn't have much experience with webcam communication but he still was able to demonstrate his newly developing skill of dribbling a basketball and I got to see, again, what it looks like to have a ravenous, growing four year old who is starving every two hours.

All this, with texting and Facebook have helped immensely in keeping me connected with this tribe of ours far, far away.  We have though entered into a new realm with the web-based baby monitor that is trained on my son Matt's two year old son Memphis' crib.  I have one hundred percent access to sign on and watch his crib.  I have figured out when he goes down for a nap and about how long he sleeps.  I know about when he goes to bed.  I know that he is a crazy man while sleeping, moving all over the place, usually completely uncovered.  I know that he will sit and play by himself in his crib, happy as can be both before he goes to sleep and after he wakes up.

I love to "catch" mama Kelsey or daddy Matt putting him to bed. As a mom forever, seeing my own children's faces always fills my heart with joy, my favorite is when Matt puts Memphis to bed.  In addition to being able to see in both light and dark there is audio so I can listen to my 32 year old son talk to my two year grandson.  His sweet words and gentleness as a Dad make me so proud of him.  Those tender moments between parent and child are usually not observed and the monumental gift it is for me to be able to watch that and listen is not lost on me.  /Here is a link to find out more about this amazing system:

I don't get to see much of his new baby brother Maverick yet because he co-sleeps with his mama and daddy.  I suggested to Matt that they should get a webcam in the living room and he said, Uh No.  But, if they did he would wear the Speedo swimsuit we sent him for his birthday as a gag gift.  Then I said Uh, No.  I'll have to be patient and wait to stalk Maverick until he's a little older *wink*.

I have become a toddler stalker using their Summer Babycam system and now I have to find some way to convince all these parents in my tribe that they should have a night vision webcam on all my grandbabies' beds so I can watch the little angels sleeping - because everyone knows that babies, toddlers, children and yes, even teenagers are ANGELS when they are sleeping.  I can't even describe how much of a gift it is to have these windows into these little people's lives when we are so far away and our access to them is so limited.

I look forward to the times when I can hold these little people on my lap and hug and kiss on them but in the interim technology keeps me just connected enough that I won't be a total stranger to them when we see each other.

I'm lying in bed as I'm typing this on a laptop that is running on battery.  I have the baby webcam on so I'll catch Memphis going to bed.  Tonight I'll sleep with the sound of ocean waves coming from a White Noise app on my phone and my alarm will be set on the phone as well.  My alarm clock sits next to the phone unplugged because the phone has rendered it useless.  Many nights when I lie awake with pain and/or insomnia I am doing medical research on my phone.  In the six months that I have had it I have acquired more knowlege about my medical conditions than the whole sixteen prior years combined.  I am grateful to have access to technology.  I don't take for granted for one second how wonderful it is to have these tools in my life and the lives of my kids and grandkids.

Thanks for stopping by to share my joy.

Peace be with you and all that jazz....

Copyright (c) Chardale Irvine - 2012.  All rights reserved.