The Seastar Thrower

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*I heard/read this story long ago so I don’t remember the specifics. I have adapted it to my own storytelling abilities.

The beach was small and quiet, tucked out of the way. There were some small houses nearby, but nobody important. The surfer enjoyed the beach for its solitude, peace and waves that were just good enough. That’s how he found it that morning, surfboard tucked under his arm, sand in his toes. As he approached the shoreline he noticed something odd. Thousands and thousands of seastars lay on the cool, wet sand.

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A Heart Lesson and a Check-up

*This article originally aired on November 8,2013. Over 2 years later, we are headed to the Pediatric Cardiologist for a check-up. I will let you know how it goes tomorrow. We’ll be on the road traveling for the next 6 hours. For now, I’ll leave you with Crash’s last Cardio visit.

Heart lesson: the two top “chambers” are  the left and right atrium. The bottom “chambers” are the left and right ventricles. The lines separating the atrium from ventricles are the Mitral valve and Tricuspid valve. Those valves open and close to let blood flow through as the heart beats and pumps it through. Or at least that’s how I understand it. I’m not a doctor.

This isn’t Crash’s heart. But this is what Crash’s heart looks like on an echo scan. You can clearly see the   valves separating the atrium from the ventricles. Crash’s doctors are keeping an eye on the tricuspid and mitral valves because there some regurgitation. This simply means that the valves aren’t closing completely. Therefore, some blood flows backward into his heart. However, what they are mostly concerned with is his aorta and pulmonary artery. They are making sure they are not narrowing, which is something that can happen after the surgery that he did at 5 days old. But just like he has for the last 6 years, he rocked his cardio check-up! The regurgitation is minimal and always has been. The aorta and pulmonary artery haven’t narrowed. He is thriving, now standing at 3′ 11″ tall and  61 pounds. We found all this out yesterday from his cardiologist at the IWK… Dr. Kenny Wong (joined yesterday by Dr. Matthew Woo).  Dr. Wong was impressed enough that he doesn’t need to see him again for 2 years! For the last 3 years we visited Dr. Wong once a year for Crash’s check up. Crash always amazes me while we’re there. The child who is normally loud and rambunctious as most boys are (noise with dirt as we typically describe them) was calm, quiet and patient while they did his EKG and again during the echo. Thank you Crash! I kind of liked his yearly check ups. We always used them as an excuse to get out of town and visit family we don’t get to see often. Guess we’ll have to find a new excuse… Daddy needs new running shoes? Mommy wants to go to the K-cup store?

On another note, I was terrified thinking about how Bang would behave during Crash’s EKG and Echo. I was relieved that he wanted to be held while we were in the patient room for the EKG. He watched with curiosity what they were doing to his big “bubby”. Then in the patient room for the echo, they turned the lights down to see the monitor better. Bang took that as his cue to snuggle in and fall asleep in my arms. Whew. I got to watch the whole thing! I was afraid Bang would get restless and have to go run and play and I would miss the best part. Thank you Bang!

The 2 and a half hour night time drive home with 2 sick kids (the oldest with a bad cold and the youngest with a fever) is a story for another blog.

Coasting Through Life

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There is a hill in town that is famous for being THE hill for coasting, aka sledding. Last Satuday was nice day, if one degree can be considered “nice”. But the sun was shining and the wind was calm. So that definitely counts as nice. Crash asked “Can we go sledding at Prince St?”

I hmed.
I hawed.

“Sure. Load up the sleds.” Three sleds, a snowboard, and helmet on board off we went. Two minutes later we were standing at the top of Prince Street Hill. The biggest sledding hill in town.

Standing a the top looking down, we had that nervous excitement settle in. It made us giddy and giggly and trying to figure out who was going to be the first one down. Big, brave Bang won the toss.

Fearless. He attacked that hill head on. Laying on his belly on his penguin sled with me holding the sled so it wouldn’t leave without him he was set for launch.

“3…2…1… GO!” he hollers.

He’s racing down the hill picking up speed. Then he hits a bump. The sled turns sideways and off he rolls at the bottom of the hill. He was not impressed. That ride was NOT was he was expecting.

So Crash and I jump on the remaining two sleds, zoom down the hill hittting the same bumps Bang banged over. Now I know why he wasn’t impressed. It wasn’t the smooth ride it usually is. He was okay, of course. It just wasn’t a fun ride for him. Now the three of us were sitting at the bottom looking up.

This hill isn’t just coasting hill. It’s the hill of life. There we were standing at the top, barely knowing what to expect. Just as if we were anticipating a big move, a new job, a baby-to-be. We had an idea what was coming. But not really.

Then came the trip down. We knew others had been down this path before. They left their trails for us to follow. We didn’t take the path less travelled. It was thrilling. Exciting. Wind in our face making our eyes water. Time travelled faster for the one zooming down the hill than it did for those watching from the bottom. Exactly in the same way time passes faster when you are watching your kids grow up. And what life isn’t complete without a few bumps? As always, we made it through over with a little bit of careful steering.

Then we rested, looking back up that monster of a hill. We laughed. We talked. We reminised about the grand time we had flying down that slope. We looked back, even if it was only 30 seconds back. From the bottom, that hill looks SO much bigger. We found ourselves amazed at what we had just done. No, we weren’t the first. But we did it.

But to get that thrill again, we had to make the climb back up. A hill that steep isn’t easy to get back up. We slip. We fall. We take five steps up and slip back two. Much like when your potty trained toddler has an accident. Much like when you have car touble on a thousand mile (or even just 10) trip. But we’re tenacious (a fancy word for stubborn). We get our footing back and continue up the hill. We know it’ll be worth it.

This hill has other aspects that resemble life as we know it, too. It’s social media, IRL. In Real. Life. It brings people together, planned or not. You’re bound to make at least one new friend when you come here. You’re more likely to make more than one. Just like life, sledding better with your buddies.

If you time it just right, you can have the hill completely to yourself. No waiting for others to get out of the way. No waiting for others to have their turn. Plus there’s peace and quiet, with the exception of your own screaming self coming down the hill. Perfect for the introverted adventure seeker.
This isn’t just a hill. It’s an adventure. It’s also a great source of fresh air, sunshine, a bit of exercise. I know my fitbit loved climbing back up. I made it up 70 flights of stairs that day. Crash made it more since he climbed up more than I did. Bang was content to slide down on his bum or belly sans sled after his wild first slide down on the sled. Lesson learned. See? That was life lesson right there!