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Meet Alexander Chase, 6 lbs, 7 ounces

Hit it out of the park!

“Flexibility” has never been my middle name but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to adapt. Take the last two weeks, for example—Mike and I made a 3,000-mile road trip to CT on one day’s notice (we tested negative for the coronavirus right before leaving), faced a driver heading the wrong way—straight toward us—on our highway entrance ramp on the way up, and weathered a tropical storm that included four days without power once we had reached our destination. And that’s not the half of it. On the way back, there was a 5.1 earthquake as we were leaving our hotel, and two torrential FL rainstorms during which we could barely see the car in front of us. Yup—a little adventure. All good.

To be honest, our curveballs were nothing compared to the one that our daughter, Lael, got—her new little boy decided to pass on his last few weeks in utero, and be born at 37 weeks. Basically, Lael hit that curveball and got a home run.

Is he coming, or faking us out??

Alexander Chase surprised us all. Three weeks before her due date, Lael called Mike and me to let us know that, “It may be nothing, but I started having mild contractions at 1:00.” It was late afternoon, and I was on my way to have dinner with a friend—ironically, someone named Aleks—and while she and I always have plenty to talk about, Lael’s news added a little excitement to our conversation. Phone on the table, we waited for more info but the update came on my way home—the contractions had strengthened and the hospital wanted Lael and husband, Brian, to come in. Three-year-old daughter, Sammy, headed off to a fun girls’ night with Nana—aka, Brian’s mom, Jill, telling Jill that her “new little brudder” was on his way.

The excitement continued late into the night, as a four-way grandparent text chain and a five-way text chain that included Brian kept us all sane. We lived for any news that we could get. Finally, around midnight, the big announcement came—baby had arrived at 6 lbs 7 oz, and he and mom were doing well. With a rush of new vigor, suddenly it didn’t seem so late…

Alex? Not Sven…or Jelly Bean…??

Alex wasn’t always “Alex”—he spent most of his time “on the inside”😊 as “Sven.” An avid fan of “Frozen,” Sammy named him after the movie’s lovable reindeer—that is until she changed her mind to “Jelly Bean,” one of her favorite foods. And I’ll be honest—I’m having a hard time calling him Alex, even though I love the name. Maybe it’s my Swedish heritage but he’s so Sven to me. I called him that for most of last week—and I think he likes it!

As an aside, Sammy wasn’t very happy upon learning that her new little brudder wasn’t named Jelly Bean. Sven, Jelly Bean, Indy Mac (Dad’s nickname), and Alex—will that kid even know what to answer to as he gets older? Then again, maybe figuring out the call to all those names will help make him flexible—he certainly got a good start in that direction!

Pick on someone your own size, Isaias…

Thank heavens Sven was born when he was and not the following week when Tropical Storm Isaias visited CT. Our neighbors in FL told us that the storm had virtually no impact on our area—who knew it would attack CT like it did? After all, you expect tropical storms in FL but not-so-much in New England. Though we knew Isaias was coming, we really didn’t expect it to, umm, take the state by storm. Power went out at 2:00 pm on Tues and didn’t come back on until Sunday. Trees were down and roads were impassable. We were so thankful that Sven had decided to be born at 37 weeks and not hang around for another six-or-seven days. Driving to the hospital at that point would have been awful at best, and life threatening at worst.

A newborn and no power

By itself, life with a newborn is typically chaotic. Mom is recovering physically, parents are sleep deprived, siblings are dealing with the excitement of having a “new little brudder” or sister along with changing family dynamics—so throw in out-of-town guests, a tropical storm, and no power, and you’ve got a multi-dimensional family circus. Fun for all.

I won’t say that the visit wasn’t without challenges, but our son-in-law, Brian, kept life under control. Because of him, we kept our collective sense of humor, thanks to being able to shower and flush, and okay, I’ll say it—for me, use a hairdryer. A property professional, Brian understands and can fix almost anything related to houses. In fact, he did all this while under a tight deadline of his own. One of their business’s rental properties was approaching an occupancy deadline and work still needed to be done—so, in between installing and sanding floors at their rental house in the town next door, Brian kept the generator at home running to ensure as high a level of normalcy as possible for us. He also made some early morning breakfast runs. Many thanks, Brian😊

The days passed, Lael continued to feel stronger, we spent lots of time with Sammy, and we held, fed, and changed Sven. We played lots of chase, hide ‘n go seek, and filled the roles that Sammy designated for us in games of “doll sisters.” Sven seemed to change every day. He had just come home from the hospital at the beginning of our visit—all five pounds-and-change of him—about half the size of our cat—and he (like the cat!) slept for most of the day. By the end of the week, Sven was gaining weight, making sounds, and crying some—he’s going to be such a good communicator!😊 He was really alert and tried so hard to hold his head up. “You go, Sven…!” I thought. The other thing that really struck me at the end of our stay was when I cradled him, one of his arms would fall down by my side. As I rubbed his other arm, he would rub my side. Coincidence? Maybe—or a reflex—but this unbiased grandma knows it was a well-thought-out response. I told you—he’s going to be a communicator…

Travel time—more curve balls

What’s a road trip without some good “en route stories?”

Mike and I started our 1500-mile journey (each way) with masks, and documents stating that both of us had tested negative for the coronavirus the day before. Though on the road a little later than we’d hoped, eventually we were off-and-running. About three hours into the trip, outside of Orlando, traffic stopped. We never did find out what caused the backup, but all traffic got routed off the highway onto local roads that were never meant to accommodate so many cars. Stop and go, stop and go—we lost at least an hour-and-a-half from that little diversion.

At long last, there was the interstate—we were on our way again. We made a left-hand turn to get on the entrance ramp, and at about the same time, someone coming from the opposite direction made a right-hand turn onto his entrance ramp. The two ramps would merge and we’d both get on the highway—right? Nooo….as he approached the merging point of the two entrance ramps, the guy on the other entrance ramp decided that he really didn’t want to be there—so what’d he do?? Banged a left and headed straight down our ramp toward us.

Needless to say, we were a little surprised to see a head-on driver on our entrance ramp.

We honked the horn and slowed down—and can I tell you—the other driver barely blinked. With a disgusted expression of, “Ohhh, why can’t these people just get out of the way??” he turned around and drove back down the entrance ramp he had just driven up! Crazy!

The rest of the trip up was pretty uneventful. On the way back, though, there was a 5.1 earthquake as we were leaving our hotel in Charlotte, about 100 miles away, when it occurred but we didn’t feel anything. And yes, FL welcomed us back with two of the state’s signature rainstorms—thunder, lightning, and rain so hard that we could barely see the cars around us. 

It was official—we were close to home.

Back to life in SWFL…until the fall…

All of that was just last week, though it seems like much longer than that. How quickly we adapt to our surroundings. Mike and I are planning another excursion north relatively soon, though—it’s always hard to leave our family—particularly so this time, and we never did get to see extended family and friends. Besides, fall in New England will be here before you know it, and I want to immerse myself in of all of the above.

In the meantime, we’re back to everyday life here in SWFL—heat, humidity, and downpours—all the glory of rainy season. Despite that, I don’t forget that life here still provides plenty of sunshine, spectacular sunsets, and catching up with new friends—and it’s all that rain that gives the area its lush beauty.  

I often think about how thankful I am that our lives are the way they are—and that is particularly true this week. A healthy new grandchild, a safe and healthy delivery for Lael, a wonderful granddaughter and son-in-law, and safety during the storm and on the road—that’s pretty much a jackpot. I’m also thankful to have a beautiful home, good friends, and a great life to return to. So now—back to life here. It’s going to be a busy time–we’ll have so much more to talk about in the weeks ahead!

Enjoy your week!

Until next time,