The Samantha Years

Full Belly…Full Heart

I am still lavishing in the meal Susan and Andy brought over tonight…leg of lamb, roasted potatoes, organic cheese made at a local dairy, MALBEC (that’s for you Ryan) from Chile. Great meal and lovely conversation. Thank you, so very much Susan and Andy.

Towards the end of the meal, I played a CD of a dear friend’s band; Inda Eaton. If you have never heard of her, check out She is a fabulous musician and makes wonderful cookies.

I sat, with my daughter in my lap, drinking great wine, eating dark chocolate with crystallized ginger (who knew HOW GOOD that is?), talking to good friends, with another fabulous friend on the CD player….I was filled with love.

I told a friend the other day that I wish I wasn’t the friend that gives everyone else perspective but it’s nights like this that I relish in the simple beauty of our lives….the health of our daughter, a wonderful meal, and sweet music in my ears. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

The Samantha Years

It Takes a Village

The other day, while in our 8th floor room, a volunteer came by and asked if she could anything. I thanked her and said “No, we are very lucky, we have a wonderful support group.”

She nodded and said, “I can always tell by the look on parents’ faces if they are getting the support they need.”

I’m thinking my face looked supported! It should! Once again, we are grateful for all of the outpourings of good thoughts, prayers, cookies, lunches…..etc.

Last night Samantha spiked a fever…! She went from a sleeping Miss to hot potato (104 degrees) in about a 1/2 hour. Motrin and Tylenol had already been given so we started on cold cloths. A couple days ago I requested a cooling blanket…the great little device that fills with water and cools Samantha’s core.

We had some issues with the cooling blanket….

First, they brought a heating blanket…no good.

Then we got a cooling MACHINE with a blanket that fits into a HEATING machine….no good. Grandpa Jim had to figure this out on his own. The funny thing about cooling machines is that they are usually only used in the ICU so 8th floor nurses weren’t sure how to configure our device. Grandpa Jim took control and said we needed something else. Meanwhile, Grandma Judi was still soaking Little Miss in cold towels.

Third time is a charm! A new blanket and machine came up. Jim and I plugged it in! Nothing happened.

Jim played with a couple valves, a couple spurts of water ran through the tubes and that was it…..the blanket was filled with sweet, cooling water. Samantha was placed on the blanket and her temp was down within fifteen minutes.

The docs came into the room expecting to see a hot, sick little girl. I presented my peaceful, cooled child….nothing compare to the ‘controlled’, heated, pandamonium minutes before. The cooling of my feverish child was achieved by our efficient, intelligent village….cold towels and the engineering of a blanket.

Oh, we are still in the hospital….but I guess sometimes you gotta take the bull by the horns…or the blanket.

Comfy Samantha went back to sleep.

We toasted with a glass of Cab.

A special thank you to lovely Ellen and Jeannine who brought soup and bread today. Thank you for being a part of our village.

My face is happy and supported.

Keep those thoughts going for Monday!


The Samantha Years

"Monday is the key day of the week" Gaelic Proverb

So it looks like we could all be spending the night in our own beds on Monday pending that Samantha is fever free for 24 hours and she is back on her full feeds without any issues.

I have made her fully aware of the challenge she has in the next couple days and being the little fighter she claims to be up to it……. actually, she has been sleeping all morning and ignoring her mama. I’m a little hurt and itching to rouse with my comfy girl but I’m controlling myself.

Fingers and toes crossed for Monday!


The Samantha Years

O Bed! O Bed! Delicious Bed- Thomas Hood

Now, blessings light on him that first invented sleep! It covers a man all over, thoughts and all, like a cloak; it is meat for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, heat for the cold, and cold for the hot. It is the current coin that purchases all the pleasures of the world cheap, and the balance that sets the king and the shepherd, the fool and the wise man, even. ~Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, 1605

I now know why solders are sleep deprived. I know why denying one of sleep is considered a form of torture and why my mother insisted I take a nap at a young age.

Sleep is good for the mind. Sleep is good for the body. I LOVE sleep. When I don’t sleep, I am transformed to a horned beastie….with fangs and purple claws…and big feet.

The first night in we did not sleep. The collective ‘we’, Samantha and I, welcomed the dawn from our east-facing room. Grateful, perhaps that the night was over. Nothing is worse than knowing the world is snoozing away and you’re up. We did sneak in a nap- just enough to take the edge off.

By 9:00 pm I would have sold my left foot, confessed to terrible acts treason and bit the nose off of my unsuspecting husband. Ahhh, so this is the true nature of sleep deprivation….I get it…..can I nap now?

Happily, luckily, GRATEFULLY, Samantha drifted off with the help of a couple good meds. I collapsed into the fold out couch in the corner. Will I sleep? Or will I ponder the trivial events of my life. There is no room for trivial pondering, I can see the horned beastie in the corner should I have another sleepless night.

“The feeling of sleepiness when you are not in bed, and can’t get there, is the meanest feeling in the world.” Edgar Watson Howe

I slept! A good eight hours! Unheard of on the 8th floor. Today I am as sweet as pie (says me.) Thank you, thank you, little sleep fairies.

Samantha slept through the night and is snoozing now too. She is still fighting a fever but the infection had settled in her kidneys and can take a couple days to work itself out.

The biggest injustice to Samantha (well today anyway!) is that her belly was so distended the docs thought she might have a block of some sort. Not wanting to add anymore volume into her abdomen, she hasn’t been able to eat until they figure things out. Poor Sammers hasn’t had a meal since Wednesday. She is a hungry little pickle. We are hoping, crossing our fingers, that we can feed her today. Sleep last night, food today? It’s the little things in life.

The Samantha Years

8th Floor Residents

So, we are back at Children’s. This time it was the ultimate tease…..we came in for an out-patient appointment and were sent upstairs three hours later. After hour two I started to have doubts that I would make it home in time for Entertainment Tonight….damn the electric fence.

Samantha has another infection that we ‘think’ is coming from her bladder. She was pretty upset and feverish last night…..we’re hoping for a better night tonight….keep you fingers crossed. Mama needs sleep!

She’s on IV antibiotics and waiting for the meds to take effect. Once she starts feeling better and we find some answers about these nasty UTI’s, we’ll be going home. I’m hoping this weekend or Monday. Again, cross those fingers.

Send her a good thought or two 🙂

Hope you all are well.

Heather, Bart and Samantha

The Samantha Years

Air and Simple Gifts

Today I watched a nation regain hope, held a baby born on this day and cried for a man who would have celebrated our new future. To our new president, to baby Aliza and to Ralph…..thank you…these moments make us human and make us real.

Changing of the guard

It is with optimistic and hopeful eyes that I turn to what lies ahead. I also turn to Elizabeth Alexander for her words….what if the mightiest word is love…

Inaugural Poem Top of Form

Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others’ eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, “Take out your pencils. Begin.”

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, “I need to see what’s on the other side; I know there’s something better down the road.”

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.
Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp — praise song for walking forward in that light.

The Samantha Years

Artistic License

My brother and sister-in-law have been in Denver since Christmas! They leave next Tuesday for a nine month adventure around the world (lucky ducks) It has been so great having them here and remembering that I have a little brother that I can badger from time to time.

My brother is upset about my last post. He claims that he NEVER cheated at monopoly. I said that he has a poor memory AND that I have artistic license to divlege a little when telling a story (since it is my blog). He gave me a guffaw…he is very good at guffawing. I think little brothers come with a strong natural ability to guffaw.

So I thought I would post an old family legend….from my point of view….just to let you know that you’re not alone my bro….Ozzie got it too 🙂

Bohemians in the Backwoods:

My father had a blind date with Colorado. Like many young suitors, he approached this unknown meeting with apprehension. My mother’s family just moved to Denver and she was itching to follow along.

“I want to be close to my mother.” She said

“I just got a new job, I’m not sure if I can transfer. Denver? Denver’s a cow town. Chicago is where my career can really take off.” He replied.

“I want to be close to my mother” Mom said again. After a week or so of debate, he reluctantly loaded up our station wagon.

“Let’s go visit and check it out.” He sighed.

Dad was a little unnerved as he left Illinois. He developed hives as we drove through the prairies of Nebraska but as soon as he saw the snow-capped Rockies on the horizon, he changed.

He was in love. He was a giddy school boy with an insatiable crush. Colorado was a wild girl; her bodacious, curvy mountains, her sweet scent of pine, her untamed spirit. Colorado beckoned him. After a week we reluctantly drove back to Chicago with a 12-pack of smuggled Coors beer in the cooler and John Denver on the eight track. We sang Rocky Mountain High at the top of our lungs and counted down the days until our next visit.

Like any good relationship, Dad and his new land dated for a while. He found a cool mountain stream in the summer. She flaunted her golden finery along the aspen groves in autumn. But it was the crystal skies of winter that finally convinced him to commit. My uncles took him skiing. He fell down the mountain and headlong into love. Dazed, bruised and dreamy in his Chicago office, he would scratch at his February sunburn (who knew the sun would shine in February?) and gaze out onto cold, windy Michigan Avenue. He would corner anyone who would listen and tell tall tales of sunny skies, champagne powder and moguls the size of Volkswagens.

It took a year but Dad was finally transferred to Denver. We loaded up the U-haul, packed the station wagon, wrestled the dog and my little brother into the backseat. John Denver was in the 8 track and we were off.

We bought a little house in a new neighborhood next to Green Mountain. We had frequent visitors; rattlesnakes, rabbits and coyotes popped in from the open space behind us. My mom wore kerchiefs in her hair, my dad grew his hair out and sported a bushy mustache, my two year old little brother ran around naked and ate the dirt of our brand-new backyard.

My uncles helped my dad lay sod in our backyard. After a long, hot day, they all laid on the fresh, new grass with a cold beer in hand, gazing up at the stars and singing Rocky Mountain High; our dog howling beside them. We had arrived.

The Colorado clan consisted of Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and cousins all transplanted from the Midwest and all in love with this land. On summer weekends we got up early, downed a waxy boxed doughnuts from the grocery store, packed up the cooler and headed over to Uncle Stan’s and Ozzie.

Ozzie was a huge, white panel van. The inside was gutted so it could hold bikes, skis, barbeque grills and family members brave enough to sit on the floor or a lawn chair while Uncle Stan wove through mountain passes. Eventually someone would get carsick in back of the van. Uncle Stan would stop, cursing and retrieve the green family member from the back. Ozzie had a faint smell of motor oil, dust and vomit. I could never convince myself to ride in the back.

If you lived in Colorado in the 70’s, it was an unsaid requirement that you cut your own wood. Even if you didn’t have a fireplace, you went up into the woods, inhaled the crisp scent of fall and whacked at a tree.

I loved the hum of the chainsaw, the CRACK! of a tree falling and the vibration through the woods. My brother and I would climb on top of the branches, jump off the trunk and play Star Wars with the broken limbs. We carried wood by the armful into Ozzie; sticky with sap, pieces of bark and leaves clinging to our flannel shirts. It was on these days, full of winter wood and woozy relatives, lumbering down a back-country road, that Ozzie earned his keep.

One fateful day the uncles and my dad were grouped together balancing themselves on a steep mountain ridge, evaluating the direction and force a tree might fall. What’s the best direction? North, South, the direction of the wind? They stood in a group, scratched their heads and sipped on their beers as they discussed.

The rest of us stood on the road next to the safety of Ozzie. My brother and I sat in the dirt sharing a hotdog on white bread and a bag of potato chips. We watched the men discuss the nuances of the tree.

Mom looked up at the men and cupped her hands around her mouth to make sure they heard her. “Should we move the van?”

Uncle Stan yelled back “Nah, don’t be silly. Ozzie’s fine.”

The chainsaws were fired up and the air hummed with anticipation. My mom grabbed my brother and I and moved us further away. The rest of the family members muttered among themselves and moved their lawn chairs and beers into a less precarious location.

The tree was cut and given a push so that it would fall uphill. It wavered uphill and downhill, uphill again and then as a final protest, the tree completely changed directions and landed right on top of Ozzie. The wheels buckled underneath the weight and the golden leaves fluttered over the van.

I gasped. It was beautiful. Ozzie was wearing a big golden hat.

The air stood still as everyone turned towards Uncle Stan.

“Damn it!” He said kicking at the tree. You said the tree would fall the other direction.”

“We said you might want to think about moving the van.” my Grandmother pointed out.

Uncle Stan got up on top of the van and tried in vain to move the golden tree. The rest of us didn’t say a word. Uncle Stan finally hopped off Ozzie, muttering to himself. He sat in the dirt and popped open a Coors.

Ozzie’s top was dented. The damage wasn’t too bad but it was a constant reminder that you never know how the wind will blow and sometimes you might want to listen to family. Uncle Stan hated the dent. I loved it. Ozzie was now a true mountain van.

We returned home in our station wagon home, filthy, sticky and exhausted from the day. My brother and I laid our dirty heads, probably harboring a tick or two, on my Grandma’s lap and snored all the way home. The grown ups sat in the front, giggling and snorting as they relived Ozzie’s meeting with the tree.

We didn’t cut wood after that afternoon. I have no idea where Ozzie is. I would like to think he took off on his own, rumbled up a remote lumber road and refused to start. Perhaps he is back in the woods donning an aspen like a big, golden hat.

Last weekend my husband, baby daughter and I got lost on a road off of Highway 34. We got out to take a walk and bundled our daughter in the baby jogger. My husband, antsy from the drive, took off with her at a slow jog up the pass. As I watched them get smaller, I wondered what her introduction with nature will be. As we become more advanced, we try to tame the untamable, control the uncontrollable. The other day, my husband was glancing through an outdoor catalog and laughed that there are so many products for “roughing it” that we really aren’t “roughing it” anymore.

How will I teach my daughter to love the mountains? She will not ride in the back of a panel van. Our fireplace is gas…no need for wood. But I hope I can teach her to howl at the moon, find that crazy bohemian within her soul. I will tell her how Rocky Mountain High and a mountainside of golden trees will always bring tears to my eyes. Maybe I’ll just teach her how to pee in the woods; that might be a good start.