Our Big Computer Project is going live tomorrow. It's a private website, so I can't send anyone there...but for those customers it was intended for, it will be accepting real registrations and orders. This is a pretty major accomplishment.
Looking back, in some ways I find it hard to believe we've only been working on it for only a couple of months: to put it in perspective, we began work on it right before our wedding (we were glad there was a break in the action long enough to give us a week off right after our wedding with only minor pangs of conscience). We realized we were expecting Joshua right in the middle of a very busy week in which we were spending all day at the office and then visiting with Grandma every evening so we could learn how to do important things like transfer her from bed to chair and back. The week we lost Joshua was probably the worst week Ben could've been tied up going to doctor's appointments and staying up all night at the hospital because there was a big deadline the next week that a lot of stuff needed to be finished for.
All in all, it appears to have been successful, though. In a nutshell, the project was to build a customized shopping cart - inserting products in the database and all - for a very large company to send it's contractors to do purchasing for their construction projects. Originally, Ben was supposed to find a coder who could do a lot of the programming work on the shopping cart since Ben had never built anything like it; but as time passed and deadlines loomed and there was no one applying for the position, Ben began learning the skills needed himself. We discussed it a lot and realized that by the time Ben interviewed and found someone for the position, that person would then need to be brought up to speed on what was needed and integrated into the project. In that same amount of time, Ben could learn and implement what needed to be done to build the cart himself - giving him a new skill that could then be turned around and used for other customers interested in a similar feature on their websites. So rather than giving the work away to someone else nominally working under him, Ben took on the work himself. I'm very proud of him, because every time a problem came up where the customer wanted some odd and unusual feature that Ben had never had any experience building before, he figured out what to do to take care of it and make the website work.
I'm also proud of him for displaying his usual calm spirit when other people were panicking and sometimes making unreasonable demands. There was one conversation where if it'd been me instead of Ben involved, I would've been very tempted to tell the individual involved to go away and let people who knew what they were doing handle the situation. To listen to Ben's response, you'd never know the other person was being unreasonable, foolish, and unnecessarily harsh.
When I'm actually in a conversation like that I'm much more diplomatic than when I'm on the sidelines listening to someone berate my husband for doing something much wiser than what the berator wants done.
At any rate, the next few weeks will probably be full of lots of little (and maybe not-so-little) fire-stamping activities, but the initial big part of the job is now successfully done. Did I mention that I'm very proud of my wonderful husband?
Ben and I went to a movie this week. It's the first time we've ever gone together. Ben was funny about it because we were walking down the hall between theaters and he was holding my hand and saying, "I'm taking my girlfriend to the movies!"
"Girlfriend?" I said. "Last I looked, we were parents already..."
"Oh right," he said. "Guess that would be out of order, huh?"
We've been working pretty hard on the big computer project all week and Mom Turner's been keeping Grandma Lila company to let us be able to go do in-office work; so it was an especially appreciated bonus that she and Grandma spent the evening together also so we could go gallivanting. We were originally going to see the movie "Monumental", which only was going to have one showing in our area; but even though there were still tickets available the day before, it suddenly sold out on the day we were going.
Now, the chances of there being two movies out at the same time that we would want to see are pretty slim; but there happened to be another one that I'd heard about that I was interested in seeing. It was called "October Baby" and it was a story about a nineteen-year-old girl who discovers that her various health troubles come from the fact she was born extremely prematurely - at 24 weeks. And she was born so prematurely because her mother had tried to abort her. The story centers around her trying to find her mother and understand why her adoptive parents raised her without telling her this kind of important fact about her existence. There were some pretty serious cliches in the movie - including the whole message about "letting your children go" centered around the girl's adoptive father - but it was way, way better done than any other overtly Christian film I've watched and I enjoyed going with Ben. Even though I cried through the second half of the story.
I don't think I'd watch it with the younger kids - there were some very disturbing things talked about even though no bad images were shown - but it was a story with some very interesting things to observe in it. Oddly enough, the thing I found most interesting to watch was not the development of the storyline where Hannah (the girl) finds out about how she was born, but the relationship between her and her childhood friend Jason - who decides to accompany her on her spur-of-the-moment trip to find her mother because he wants to make sure she's safe. There were things about Jason that reminded me of Ben in how he treats me, but as I thought about that I realized it's because good men have certain characteristics and they tend to be most visible when someone the man loves needs help.
I've always really enjoyed seeing those characteristics, but now being married to Ben gives me a whole new perspective on them. I now absolutely love seeing men display those good things and I see them easier than I used to. A good man is a truly beautiful creation. He has a calmness and a steadiness and an authority and a peace and a way of taking care of people that makes him beautiful. I bet that's not what the filmmakers necessarily had in mind when they made October Baby, but I appreciated that little fraction of the verse in Proverbs that talks about things that are "too wonderful to understand": "the growth of love between a man and a girl."
If anyone's been wondering where we've been and what we're up to, you can blame the long silence on the sudden outbreak of Global Warming (also knowing as Springtime) that's been keeping me outside and wearing me out by nightfall. Ben has been very busy with the big website programming project he's been working on for the last few months and I've been working on cleaning up the yard.
To date, I've cut down seven or eight young trees, trimmed four very large evergreen bushes, raked a lot of leaves, trimmed ivy out of all the places ivy goes that it shouldn't, wrestled with a lot of old nightshade vines, recovery-pruned a big rosebush, and cut down the old stalks from about a dozen peonies growing on each side of the house. That doesn't count miscellaneous weeding and a lot of time spent on the whole, "Okay...what is this and should I pull it out?" debate that comes with new houses when you've never really seen the landscaping do what it's supposed to. From the looks of things, our house really hasn't had the landscaping cared for in probably two years, possibly three judging by the height of all the young poplars I cut down. I'm not always sure how much to do, since I know the yard is about to get pretty torn up during construction; but those trees had to go! While I'm usually a big proponent of "let it grow because it looks nice there", the trees were growing in all kinds of places that they should not be, including right up next to the house. There's certainly no room for a big ol' cottonwood snuggled up next to our foundation.
The forsythia bush outside our bedroom window is so full of flowers that the whole bedroom is yellow when the sun comes in. It helps that the walls are a pale cream-yellow to start with, but when you look down the hall the light coming out of the bedroom is bright golden yellow. I'm sad that the bush won't survive construction but very glad to see we have another in the back of the yard and space to transplant a few babies in another section.
Grandma Lila has been sitting out in our ramshackle little sunroom since it's nice and warm in there during the day. I think she enjoys the change of scene; she's also enjoying being able to walk next door, which is what the physical therapist is doing with her on these nice warm days. Actually, the last goal the therapist set for Grandma was to be able to walk next door and now that she's achieved it, he's going to be discharging her from care this week. He says she's doing better than he's ever seen her do and he's been working with her since she first arrived in assisted living last year. That is special news indeed!
Mom Turner has been coming and spending more time here with Grandma to allow me to go with Ben in the afternoon to help work on the Big Website Project, since the deadline for the site going live is in five days and there's a lot of data entry work to be done. They've also been doing some outings together like going to a movie and visiting assisted living so Grandma could give a little piano concert. Mom is much better at thinking up stuff like this than we are, that's for sure. I think sometimes we must be kind of boring company.
We greatly appreciate Mom putting in all the extra time this week especially, because not only does it mean extra income but Ben and I are getting to spend some extra time together almost like we used to. We've really missed that time the past few months. It's very strange that in some ways, being married has meant being apart more than we used to be. I don't expect this exact situation will always be the case - Ben has been doing a lot of work from home and the more he does, the more the company he contracts for gets used to it. He's been a very, very valuable contractor the past few months and when you get valuable, you start getting to be more flexible.
Along with basic data entry, I've been getting some practice in using HTML code, which I haven't done any work with for several years. It's coming back to me, though, and I'm getting to make some of the data I'm entering actually look pretty. Even if I didn't make the original templates, it's fun to be the one applying them!
Ben and I have also been working on getting ready for the new addition, which included creating a file to track the receipts for what we've spent so far and keeping track of what we'll spend in the future. We were going to work on creating drawings two weeks ago, but my family contracted the flu and we've been waiting for everyone to stop coughing and feel better. Dad Tuckfield has the programs and the knowledge to take our sketches from paper and pencil to formal prints we can use for all the important stuff like working out little kinks in the plans, budgeting, and submitting for permits (which we already have all the forms for). We've been having lots of suggestions given to us since we first started talking over the addition and I think the plans have taken a solid, reasonable form; though once we start doing formal drawings it's anyone's guess how many interesting new ideas may come up and turn what we've got now into something altogether better. We even altered some ideas a few weeks ago when we went with Dad Turner to Outdoorama and toured a very tiny house. Since then, I've been looking at ideas from people who've built super tiny houses like this one simply because while I know we've got a much, much bigger space...well, why not maximize it?
And yes, since my last post, we've remained healthy around here. Grandma's foot isn't swollen, Ben is all back to normal, and so am I.
Though personally...I think the warm weather is what brought me back to normal. Nothing like a few days working hard on the landscaping to make me feel settled and myself again!
When It Rains...
Yesterday was quite a day.
It began with Ben waking up to discover he was quite ill. Apparently, my bi-daily energy problem sprang not from miscarriage recovery, as I'd thought, but from a virus I got much more mildly than Ben. So mildly that I had finally concluded I wasn't sick, just still getting better. Ben got the real 24-hour deal, complete with fever, chills, nausea, and other unpleasant consequences. This wouldn't be so great on most days, but yesterday was a very important day in the Very Big Work Project world. Ben was planning to spend the whole day preparing for a big presentation being made today, and waking up feverish and unable to keep his eyes open was not part of the plan.
We made a list of what he needed to get done on the project and then I bundled him up in bed and went to the grocery store in search of remedies. The good news is that I woke up bright-eyed and finally feeling really good for the first time in a while. As the day ended up going, that was VERY good news.
I came home with a pretty good arsenal of supplies and began dosing Ben right away. It seemed to take effect pretty quickly - he was at least able to get out of bed and keep his eyes open, for starters.
Then I went to bandage Grandma's foot.
Grandma has been having some problems with sores on her right foot. This is a very long-term ongoing problem that Ben and I actually spent a lot of time helping her with last summer. Because her foot was set at an odd angle when she broke her ankle many years ago, she has a little spur of bone that sticks out the arch of her foot instead of being tucked in as it would normally be. So checking for sores and getting them cleared up is a routine occurrence for her right foot. But yesterday, I happened to check on her left foot as well and was very surprised to see that her toes were all swollen to about twice their normal size and were very red, as was the area of her foot right behind her toes. That foot usually doesn't have any trouble at all. I checked and her ankle and leg had a little swelling here and there too, but only on that leg.
Uh-oh. I don't know that much about swelling in the feet and ankles and what could cause it, but what little I do know says normally you get swelling in both feet if it's something fairly simple and normal. Not just one foot. I didn't want to worry Grandma, though, so I suggested perhaps she might want to make sure she kept her feet up nice and high for the day. I knew the physical therapist would be coming by at noon and he knows a lot more than I do about such things, so I decided to talk to him first.
Meanwhile, I was still keeping an eye on Ben and beginning a major housecleaning, because if Ben and I had a virus, I definitely didn't want it spreading to Grandma.
By noon some of the remedies were beginning to take effect. By the way, I've found a valuable new resource for stomach upset/diarrhea, etc: Pepto-Bismal. I know, it's really simple. On every grocery shelf. And so are Gatorade and aspirin, but just because they're simple and everyone knows about them doesn't mean I'm not really pleased when the correct combination produces salubrious results. If I understand what I researched properly, bismuth - the natural active ingredient in that nasty-looking pink stuff - works by helping your intestines filter and regulate fluids properly, among other pleasant effects. Ben says it tastes like moth balls. But it worked well and quickly, so I'll be glad to add it to the medicine cabinet supplies.
The physical therapist came by and said the swelling in Grandma's foot could be "very bad" and suggested I call the home care nurse to have a look. I did right away and continued cleaning bathrooms and washing laundry (I washed every towel we own yesterday, I think).
At around 1, Ben got up, put on two sweaters and a fuzzy blanket, sat in his computer chair, and logged in remotely to work. Success on one front! He really needed to be able to work and there he was, up and about albeit pretty groggily. A major part of the website that was being demonstrated was having an issue and since there wasn't really time to troubleshoot, Ben began rebuilding it from scratch. With a fever. He is quite a man.
The nurse came by a few hours later and was also concerned, so she suggested we should probably take Grandma right away to get her leg checked out to make sure she didn't have a blood clot. Yikes. Okay, I knew it was probably not great, but what little I know of blood clots usually involves hospitalization and heightened concern. Ben was in no shape to go to the ER - the only place, we discovered, who does the kind of imaging necessary to check for blood clots - so Mom and Dad gathered Grandma up and took her off to the hospital. Where it was discovered several hours later that she has something nasty-sounding called "cellulitis", which is admittedly better than a blood clot but still not so great. The good news is that it's fairly easily cured with antibiotics, which have already had an effect after only two doses.
Ben successfully got the website pages rebuilt and running properly around 7:00. He was doing a lot better at that point, but it had still been quite a feat for him to stay awake and concentrating all afternoon. He took a short nap and finished working around 9:30, just before Grandma and Mom and Dad got back.
Then we all went peacefully off to bed. Grandma watched the season finale of "The Bachelor" while eating an english muffin snack so she could take her antibiotics; and Ben and I enjoyed watching a very nice thunderstorm - the first one of the year! - while lying there quietly saying, "Wow. What a day, eh?"
Isn't life often like this? It's like I said when Joshua was born: it's amazing that all the things we wouldn't want to have happen if we were planning our life can happen...and a few hours later later we can be peacefully and happily watching a beautiful thunderstorm as if there had never been any trouble at all.
And the website presentation today went perfectly, with Ben up and about and back in attendance pretty much like nothing happened to him yesterday at all. Other than he was a little reluctant to eat pizza for lunch on the off-chance it might cause unpleasant consequences in the middle of the big meeting. Now I'm just waiting for him to get home so we can have dinner and go for the walk we skipped this morning so he could get in early enough to do more meeting-preparation work. It's an absolutely beautiful day outside, sunny and about 62 degrees. I found budding daffodils next to the patio this morning.
It's too bad there won't be another thunderstorm later tonight...
It's the most peculiar thing I've ever experienced: I currently have "bi-daily" energy. Every other day I wake up feeling sleepy and it's an effort to stay awake all day; and then the next day I'm wide awake and ready to go. I think I may be using up too much energy on the days when I'm awake and then paying for it the next day. I've never recovered from anything that made my whole system as squiffy as one little miscarriage.
Today was a good example: I woke up late because it's the Sabbath. We took our time about getting up and then I puttered a bit and made pancakes for breakfast. After which I was so completely exhausted that I went back to bed. I got up after an hour-long nap and kept Ben company while he took a shower, but then I went back to bed and fell asleep AGAIN and didn't wake up until dinnertime. I was just sort of getting myself together to get up when I heard Grandma in the living room talking to Mom on the phone. "I don't know what's going on," she was saying. "I was taking a nap and then I woke up and there's nobody here. I think they're all gone or they're in their rooms or something - I think they must be sick and in bed. Napping? My goodness, how could they be napping at this time of day?"
Ben had been sitting next to me keeping me company and using the laptop. We looked at each other a little guiltily and I said, "Uh oh. I better go start dinner quickly!"
The good news is I was finally feeling awake by then. It was around 5:30. And now that it's almost 9:30, I'm just about ready to go back to sleep for the night. We were thinking about going grocery shopping this evening and I sort of begged Ben to put it off another day because I still felt sort of foggy and not very energetic. That is not like me. But oh well. I will get over this new affection for sleeping sometime soon.
I really am going to get back to normal. I really am. And at least the extreme nap attacks are happening every other day rather than every day. But I tell you: I'm ready to be back to my normal healthy-as-a-horse self.
Maybe tomorrow. Oh wait. I should have plenty of energy tomorrow. We'll just have to see about the day after. And I have to have lots of energy on Monday: it's supposed to be almost 70 degrees and I'd really, really, really like a chance to get some yardwork done. I've been looking at the yard all winter just waiting for it to get warm enough to do some proper cleanup work.
One of these days when I'm awake.
Hearing and Believing
I made a trip with Grandma Lila and Mom Turner today to have Grandma's ears and current hearing aids tested. I've been noticing over the past few months that Grandma is having a harder and harder time being able to hear - specifically, she can't hear the pitch my voice is at. For a while I started compensating by dropping the pitch of my voice and speaking loudly and slowly, but it's gotten to a point where she can't hear most things clearly anymore. She used to watch TV at a semi-loud volume; but now it has to be blasting at full in order for her to hear it.
The thing about this is that hearing aids are expensive. So if the loss of hearing even with them just means people have to speak up...well, people can do that. But the loss of hearing is beginning to intrude on Grandma's life. When Kim calls on the phone, Grandma can't hardly hear a word she says. Even her sisters - who have a pitch of voice she normally can hear fine - are having to shout and repeat themselves for her to hear them.
Through my brother Jonathan, I became aware of what it's like not have good eyesight. In his case, he didn't try to stand or walk until he got his new glasses: his eyesight was so skewed he had no depth perception and therefore no balance. Would he have walked earlier than age three if we'd just gotten his eyeglasses? We don't know. But it did occur to us all to wonder when we watched him stand unassisted for the first time two days after getting them.
Through Grandma, I'm now experiencing the frustration of not being able to hear. It's no light matter. Your family can be sitting around you at a little family gathering chatting and laughing and you have no idea what's so funny. People have to repeat even little things over and over while you struggle to piece it together, things as simple as, "It's dinnertime, Grandma!" If you need some help and call from the bedroom, you can't hear someone responding, "I'm coming, Grandma!" so you continue calling and calling hoping someone somewhere can actually hear you and will be arriving presently.
It's a very isolating, infuriating, generally annoying problem: and when you're someone who loves music and wants to be able to teach kids - who have high, soft, indistinct voices - it's debilitating.
According to the testing done today, Grandma has "severe to profound" hearing loss. She isn't deaf, exactly; but she has almost no reception for higher frequencies and even the low ones have to be boosted significantly for her to hear them clearly.
The thing is, she doesn't believe us that she really can't hear.
She figures everyone has problems hearing everything all the time. All those little annoyances and frustrations I mentioned earlier are troublesome to her at the time they happen, but when we discussed them today she brushed them aside as no big deal. She's being cut off from the life going on around her and she only recognizes it once in a while when something really hard to miss intrudes on her. She does not put her fear of someone not coming when she calls together with her inability to hear them responding to her before they can physically get there. She feels lonely but doesn't realize it's because when conversations are going on around her, she can't join in because she can't really tell what's being said. She gets frustrated watching TV and movies because she can't tell what's going on; but she doesn't realize it's because she can only clearly hear one or two words out of every ten.
I spent a lot of time thinking about this the past few days, about what it means to not be able to hear and not to recognize that you can't. I can recognize - even if Grandma can't - how far her lack of hearing is causing her to retreat from what's going on around her. But because it's happening a little at a time, she gets bothered for a moment about not being able to hear this or that, but then just shrugs and moves on.
I think a lot of us are like this about other things. Looking in from the outside, people can see how someone else has a handicap that's causing them no end of trouble and frustration: but the person who has the problem doesn't recognize it the same way. "So I lose my temper now and then," someone like this might say. "That's no big deal - people do it all the time, right?"
They don't see that the little moment of losing their temper caused their husband or wife to be upset the rest of the day, taught their children that it's okay to let anger get the best of them, and ultimately causes all kind of little rifts and unpleasantnesses that just grow and pile on each other until they wind up divorced with children who don't speak to them.
In my family, we have a problem called Feeling Sorry For Myself. One of my great-grandmothers died from this problem. Do the rest of us take it seriously as a life-threatening disease? Of course not. To us, it's just a little problem. Everyone does it now and then. What's the big deal?
We don't see how feeling sorry for ourselves saps our life of joy and contentment and causes us to totally ignore what is good in our lives until we're miserable and making everyone around us miserable. And all the while, we barely even notice we're doing it. Just like with Grandma's hearing, we notice it now and then when it gets particularly obnoxious; but otherwise we just live with it getting steadily worse and worse while our friends and family look on and say, "This is a serious problem! Something needs to be done!"
Thankfully, Grandma can get hearing aids; and whether she believes us now or not, I'm confident she's going to receive a very happy surprise when she puts those new little computers in her ears next week. In the meantime, I'm going to be listening for the little hints people give me that I have annoying or even dangerous problems I'm overlooking just as completely as Grandma's overlooking the problem with her ears.
Because there's nothing worse than a problem you don't even believe is there.
A Day Out
We had a slightly unexpected outing today: it was my dad's birthday and Ben and I went with my family to the Henry Ford Museum for a few hours in the afternoon. Grandma Lila was with Mom and Dad Turner (and Jenny) and they went out shopping and to visit Grandma Turner, so she had a slightly different outing; but I think we all had a pretty enjoyable day.
Ben and I went to church, got McDonald's for lunch, navigated out to the museum (and accidentally overshot our turn, which got us a little turned around in Dearborn for a while!), wandered around the automobile portion of the museum's exhibits with my family, held hands and read exhibit boards together, kept track of Jonathan (his favorite vehicle was an old schoolbus Ben says Grandpa Wilfred would've liked to see since it was the first model of the buses that would become Grandpa and Grandma's real livelihood down the line), came back to eat Chinese food with my family and had a very pleasant afternoon. I think some of my siblings are still worried that I'm okay, so it was good for all of us to peacefully visit the museum and come home for dinner, just like usual. Or what's often been usual for events like Dad's birthday.
When we got back to my family's house, Katherine and Ben played a game of chess. Back before Ben and I were married, Katherine would play a game with him nearly every night and she is quite a good player these days. She says she's been playing "expert" on the computer, but it's not as much fun as Ben: "It takes too long and it isn't as hard," was her review. It was such a nice day.
Ben and I sat and watched a short movie at the museum this afternoon and Ben said to me, "You know, I think in the entire time we've known each other, this is the first time we've gone to a movie. How'd we manage that?"
I guess there was always so much to do that if we'd tried dating by the usual dinner and movie method, we'd still be on our third or fourth date. Maybe. Our method of doing all our normal things together is probably what allowed us to decide to get married and get there within a year; otherwise, it probably would've taken us five or six!
Ben wrote me an email the other night that was the kind of thing I've heard people just beginning to go out with someone often write. It made me smile, both because it's pretty hard not to if someone loves you that much; and because I know he really does and this isn't just a new crush. It's taken a year of knowing each other and three months of marriage before he's getting mushy like that; and that's the kind of foundation that has the staying power to last seventy years. He didn't marry me because I kiss well (how would he know? I didn't kiss him!) and he didn't marry me because I'm a supermodel, and he didn't marry me because I'm such an interesting person who goes on all kinds of adventures. He married me knowing an "adventure" would probably be an unexpected day at the museum with Chinese food for dinner and he would have to teach me what kissing was like and I'll certainly never be a model. Just as I married him without going to the movies and without flowers and chocolates, but with a very good notion that he's the kind of man who can stand beside me in a hospital and keep me smiling even when things hurt.
If you were to ask me, "Is marriage what you expected?" I'd have to say not exactly. These last three months have been so busy and so much has changed and there has been so much to get used to that it hasn't been quite what I pictured it. But certain things have been much better. I would never have gotten so much pleasure from a short trip to a museum before, even though I enjoyed going in the past. Being married to Ben makes small ordinary things special, probably because we're doing them together. It made our day out very nice indeed.
Wife of Benjamin and mother to two wonderful little girls who are getting bigger every day. Enjoys writing down thoughts and discussions we are having within the family and sharing them with whoever is interested in reading.
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