HLHS

Day 20 of 30 Days of Gratitude: I am Grateful to Dr. Lightdale

There was no question after Isabelle’s first few weeks at the hospital that we were in the market for some feeding issues. Not that we were looking for them, I had hoped that I would be able to nurse and have that bonding post-op. Nope. She didn’t have the stamina to nurse for the amount of time she needed to in order to get calories. The rate she burned calories astounded me. She would lose grams when I was sure she was going to gain. She kept vomiting. She had no interest in the bottle after 4 minutes. I would weigh her in the morning, hoping the numbers would go up. When they did I was elated- this means we’re ok! When they didn’t, I would panic and go over every intake, add up the volume, and make myself crazy. 

After four months of ‘failure to thrive’ and her inability to keep food down consistently, we were referred to Dr. Jenifer Lightdale. Isabelle’s NG tube had been pulled out so many times we had to come up with a different solution that was less invasive to her nose. She needed to start gaining weight so we could make it to her Glenn. At the pace she was going, it would be months and we didn’t have that long to wait. 

Dr. Lightdale examined her, asked us questions and halfway through the visit, Izzie got hungry. I had some breastmilk and gave her a bottle. Dr. Lightdale was interested in seeing how she ate. After watching Isabelle for a few minutes, she told us her thoughts. First thought: Isabelle had learned that she satisfied her hunger with the first round of drinking. After that, she didn’t need to eat anymore. She had trained herself to eat enough to be satisfied, and by four months, it is too late to try to teach them how to suck a whole bottle. Second thought: NG tube had to go. She recommended a G tube such as the PEG. Third and final thought: moments after Izzie ate, she began to cry and pulled her legs up. I couldn’t keep her snuggled to my shoulder as she writhed in obvious pain. The verdict: she was sensitive to certain proteins in the breast milk such as soy, eggs and dairy. WHAT? Not only will my daughter never drink a whole bottle but she needs a feeding tube placed in her stomach and I can’t have dairy, eggs, or soy until further notice. 

I had to give up all of those things if I wanted to continue pumping. I had already pumped quite a stash of milk was  devastated that we couldn’t use what I so lovingly squeezed out of my body. Four times a day. Sometimes more. Dr. Lightdale suggested we change her formula to a hypoallergenic powder called Elecare (aka The Most Disgusting Stuff on Earth). It would take about wo weeks for my milk to be completely hypoallergenic but we could still give her what I was producing at that time. I cried all the way home. 

She called me on my cell and just wanted to make sure I was okay. She told me she knew her instructions were overwhelming. She knew it was going to be hard to give up all of those things, and appreciated my efforts. She had given me suggestions on what to eat before we left the office and she asked me if I was okay. Dr. Lightdale was very confident this would work. She couldn’t have been more right. 

When Isabelle pulled her NG out for the last time in December, we decided that after she was treated for dehydration, we would schedule her PEG placement. Twelve hours after being admitted I was told I could give her just plain breast milk in case her stomach couldn’t tolerate the 28 calorie formula we had her at. I gave her a bottle with breast milk in it. She drank the whole thing. I was stunned. She did it again 4 hours later, this time with Dr. Lightdale sitting next to me. Dr. Lightdale was delighted. “She proved me wrong, she can drink a whole bottle! Let’s see how tonight goes and we will talk tomorrow. Isabelle took all of her required intake that night by mouth. I couldn’t wait to see how much she had gained the next morning.

She lost 30 grams. I was speechless. In true interstage fashion, she ate a lot and it burned off faster than her body could store it away. We scheduled surgery for that Thursday and began mapping out NPO protocol. After months of trying to get her to eat my daughter was getting a feeding tube. Did I do everything I could for her? Was this a failure on my part? Should we have held out just a little longer? Looking at her today I know what the answer is. 

Izzie gained steadily in preparation for the Stage 2 surgery and although she threw up more often than not, we were able to fatten her up enough. I stayed on the diet and found that I liked the coconut butter spreads and my body appreciated the non-dairy lifestyle I had adopted. I felt great and just had way too much peanut butter. All natural peanut butter, since the commercial brands have soy in them. By the way, soy is in EVERYTHING. From bread, to spaghetti sauce. Check the labels! 

The irony of the feeding tube is that it gave us more freedom. We were free from the nightmare of interstage weight gain issues. Free from measuring everything in calories such as “That cry lasted a good five minutes so that was 80 calories just wasted.” Free from worrying every day. Well, worrying about her weight gain anyway. We were free to give her solids and after her glenn we were free to give her just breast milk. No more Elecare, no more Polycose- just milk. And she started to drink from bottles again. We stopped using the tube for feeding in March. It was taken out in August. 

Our daughter is a chunky, lovey, baby who loves food and signs for ‘eat’ all the time. We are trying to get her say “food” but hey- at least we know what she wants part of the time! I was able to get off the diet after she was 10 months old and showed no sign of distress with the Before Diet milk. She is allergic to eggs right now, and there is a chance she will outgrow that eventually. When I think of how remarkable Isabelle is, I think of everyone responsible for helping her where she is right now and Dr. Lightdale is in the top three on my list of BCH’s AMAZING DOCTORS. Image

HLHS

Day 19 of 30 Days of Gratitude: I am grateful for the Cardio-Neurodevelopment Program at Children’s

I remember taking psychological exams, stacking blocks, looking at patterns and being asked lots of questions. After the tests were over, my parents would be told that I had something called Attention Deficit Disorder. It was a relatively new diagnosis and very few medications (if any) were prescribed for it at the time. An ed plan was designed and I made it through school. End of story. That was my neurological experience. Basically, I remembered the blocks. 

We brought our assessments and paperwork, and were instructed to wait in the lobby of Children’s (which has completely changed, by the way). Izzie is old enough to notice the musical sculpture outside Au Bon Pain and CVS. She loved looking at the fish and I had fun watching her point at each fish and laughing. I know what these doctors are going to say. They are going to tell me she should be speaking more. She should be understanding more. And she isn’t. I watch her delight as the fish swim by her fingers on the glass. Time to head up and play with some blocks!

She saw the toy car in the hallway and made a bee-line for it. We had to go into the boring office instead and she voiced her displeasure of being denied the car. We went over the paperwork, went to get some coffee and waited for the psychologist. A nice woman was waiting for us with a little desk and lots of toys. And notebooks. She asked us questions, asked Izzie questions, and as we went through each part of the assessment, we could see how much she had grown in the past few months. It was phenomenal to see her do tasks I didn’t expect her to be able to do. 

She can feed a doll, point to certain objects she knows, figure out how to get cheerios out of a bottle, and stack blocks like a champ. She can’t, however, say more than our names, or follow more than one step. Her expressive language is behind, which is what I had been thinking. She should be speaking more than a few words, and be able to make sounds that mimic names of objects. Just a new focal point for Early Intervention to follow, I guess.

The experience was such a mixed bag. At one point I wondered about the limitations I put on her without realizing it. Then I see what limitations she has and think about my other two (both were speaking at least two word sentences by this age). I think about my heart mama friends, whose children can’t sit up without support, walk independently, or share in our joy of going up and down the stairs after her. She truly is remarkable for someone who has has two open-heart surgeries and compromised circulation. One interesting fact we heard while we were there- at 15 months she already has a hand preference, and they think it has something to do with the circulation being different than a heart healthy child. Apparently, children who have gone through what she has tend to show hand preference early. [Cliff Claven moment over]

I am so grateful they have this set up for these kids, and I am glad we are participating. I think knowing where she is at comparatively to other cardiac kids is important for me to truly understand how fortunate we are. Yes, being alive is a good sign right there but she is doing more than living, she is thriving. I feel so relieved that her gross-motor skills are at an 17-month level. That rocks. Talking is overrated.

 

Boston Children's Hospital, Family, HLHS

Day 18 of 30 Days of Gratitude: I am grateful for the support we receive from our friends and family

I may have already mentioned this but it certainly is worth posting twice about- the support we have received from our family and friends during this past year. Not only has our little one gone through two open-heart surgeries, hospitalizations and various infection, reactions, etc., I also lost my job this year which was devastating to me. People reached out, sent suggestions on where I should look and what I should do to try to get some work. People offered to watch the girls so I could go on interviews and client meetings. It has not been easy, but I am slowly starting to see the fruits of my labor with a returning client and another good relationship.

I was encouraged to broaden my horizons a little and have enrolled in a WordPress course. After walking through some of it in class, I realized I knew more than I thought, which is always a good thing. My husband supports my yoga, and watches the girls so I can go find some peace for 90 minutes. 90 awesome minutes.

Our pediatrician is so supportive of my questions, my enthusiasm for sharing information that I myself am learning about Isabelle’s disease. The office allows us to be placed in a room immediately so we aren’t waiting surrounded my germs. When I have made calls to the nurse, our nurse is always placed on the phone because she knows Izzie so well. They care when she gains an ounce. They celebrate when she gains a pound, shows off her walking skills and big smile.

The support we have gotten from our awesome cardiologist never ceases to amaze me. She lets me call her about the most minor thing and responds to the pics I message her with great enthusiasm. She was the first to give us the details on what we were up against, and she provided the best information possible. She didn’t leave the room until she felt our questions were answered and if they weren’t, she never minded a phone call. All of those days when Izzie would lose grams, not eat what they wanted her to, and would just get so sick- she always answered the phone. It got to the point I didn’t have to introduce myself, she knew it was me. When we were inpatient, she would always check on us. When Izzie would be so aggravated that an EKG may not be a wise move, she said she was ok with not torturing her anymore. Same thing with the blood pressure cuff. It was ok, she didn’t need to be upset anymore. Her encouragement to let Izzie live like a normal child is something I am so grateful for. It would be so easy to shelter her, but she pushes me to let her do what kids do. It is exactly what I need.

Our family has stepped up every time we needed to go to the hospital, whether it was my sister in law who took Addie in while Izzie was born, or my parents coming over to stay with the girls so we could rush her to the ER. My aunt who came over to help me when I needed someone to watch Izzie during the week before she could go into daycare. People joining us for the Heart Walk we have done every year. This year, our charity is Miles for Miracles and I know I don’t even have to ask for peoples’ support.

Our surgeon is incredible too. Taking the time to go over the procedures, even going ahead and fixing a situation that wasn’t necessary at the time. Feeling bad about not having a better solution for Izzie but telling me he isn’t going to stop trying to find a solution for HLHSers like her. Can’t get much more support than that. Plus, I have a whole post dedicated to him later.

I am indebted to my friends- some old, some new- who have all posted on my page, asked me how she was doing, and cheered her on. Friends whom I haven’t seen in years have wished us well, donated to our cause and continuously send positive messages that make my day.

My heart mama friends. Fellow trench-dwellers. I value the encouragement, prayers and cheers I get from you as much as everyone else. Some even more so, because I know you have walked this path too with more adversity than us. The support I get from another mama who is in the hospital sitting by her child’s bedside is priceless. I know it helps me to reach out when I am in the same place, I am so grateful when others did that for me.

All of this support and love have sustained us during some pretty difficult times- some heart related, some not. Tomorrow we bring Izzie in for a cardio-neurodevelopment assessment. I am hoping she is further along than I think she is, and that we are on the right track. It’s hard when I see other peoples’ children who are the same age do a lot of things she can’t yet. But then again, Izzie is Wonder Woman.

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Day 17 of 30 Days of Gratitude: I am grateful for my Sunday School class

I have taught Sunday school a few times for the synagogue over the years. My first class was amazing. I had twin boys, a young man with an incredible sense of humor, and overall some amazing kids. My second class was another great group who met every challenge I threw at them- whether it was reading passages in the Torah or writing an essay on what was happening in the world to be read at services that Friday night. These kids chose to write about the Iraqi war, and compared it to one of our own stories. I can’t remember what story it was but they did an incredible job of writing a mature response that was very thought provoking. We also had great times in class, talking about everything with some judiasm peppered in there. 

The class I have now is very different from the other two. The maturity level is definitely not the same. I can’t get them to settle down most of the time and when I do, it isn’t for very long. They come from a different place than the other two classes. They come from more mixed families and seem less connected than the previous classes. I can’t treat them like I did the others because frankly, I am not sure if they have the same potential. I hope I am wrong, but yesterday was a complete mess.

The units of curriculum I am given are either too juvenile or above their heads. I need to find a compromise that engages them so they can retain the material we are using. The last unit we had- Hanukkah- was great. We were able to do activities together, word scrambles, and cross-word puzzles. We also colored in Thankgiving-hanukkah themed coloring pages thanks to Sheila Finer, which also was a good source of connecting gratitude with the holiday. It was a crazy two hours which ended with a not-so-great performance by my kids doing the Hanukkah Goblin play we did a few weeks earlier.

I tried starting the class off with talking about gratitude. None of the kids took it seriously. No one stopped joking long enough to hear me and I was getting frustrated within the first 5 minutes. I read a synopsis of the story of Hanukkah and some of the meaning behind the metaphors in the story. Crickets. I could hear crickets. We then moved on to the hanukkah themed word scramble.  This is where it got interesting. Half of these kids had no idea who the Maccabees were. Note: The Maccabees were a band of brothers who came up with a cool plan to overthrow the Powers of Oppression so the Jews could have their Temple back and pray in peace. They were like the Jewish A-Team without the van, thousands of years ago.

I couldn’t believe it. Have we become so assimilated that our children have no idea who our kick-ass Jews were? Or how our traditions came to be? I can’t imagine bringing my girls up without knowing the basics of our holidays- especially one like Hanukkah! I don’t know what to say about this. Why bother sending your child to me if you aren’t going to reinforce this at home? Do you realize your child isn’t as knowledgable about these things as you were at that age? Have you no shame???

Ok that was just a rant because it is frustrating for me as both a Jew and a teacher, to teach things that these kids should have known in first grade. I am praying that they were just being difficult and that this improves over the year. I do love what they come out with when they apply themselves. That is a blessing and brings me back every sunday. 

There are a few students who I know will do well in the class and get that connection I am trying to provide to them. Grades 5 and 6 are tricky because this is the time when the “Am I done With Sunday School Yet?” attitude starts. I see my biggest priority- my main job- is to provide these kids with a connection to Judiasm that they can relate to. Otherwise, they won’t obtain a single fact I am giving them. They won’t care about how much our people struggled to be where we are today. They won’t understand how important it is to have faith and believe in something that can carry you during tough times. Yes- in spite of how angry I was at God for giving me a child that has such a severe condition, I have learned that I was blessed in spite of that anger. I want to pass that on to these children. 

One of my former students went from hating Sunday school to becoming involved with Temple Youth. She even spent a high school semester in Israel. ISRAEL! Seriously? I am not taking credit for that by any means, but I will say that I am glad I was part of her education that helped her gravitate towards that path. She is an amazing young woman and I was thrilled that she loved her experience so much. 

I get a lot out of teaching these kids. As frustrated as I am at the moment, I am still grateful for the opportunities I know lie ahead. They did great with the Hanukkah play  we performed at a Friday night service. They showed me that they can rise to the occasion when provided the right outlet. I think I got more out of that experience than they did. 

Today I am glad we have a few weeks off so I can regroup from the last Class of Mayhem. It’s not fair to the kids when I get frazzled because one of them feels like being a jerk. Yes, I am being that politically incorrect, because frankly, he did feel like it. I won’t let that get to me. I want to come back and raise the bar a little, and see what happens. I’ll let you know if it works, or if I am standing on a cliff somewhere. Either way, I know this experience is good for me.

 

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Day 16 of 30 Days of Gratitude: I am grateful for my girls

February 14, 1996 is the day I found out I was going to be a mother. I was 24, unmarried, and just started my career at the Rutland Herald. I became sick almost immediately and had no idea what to expect. I bought books, went to classes and my boss at the time who was pregnant herself, was very helpful. It was pretty overwhelming at times since we didn’t have very much at all and I was far away from my family. 

On October 17, Elizabeth was born after 7 1/2 hours of labor. She was beautiful. My family was coming up to visit the next day so I made the mistake of leaving the hospital a day early. I was beyond exhausted by the time they left! I couldn’t wait to share her with them and I’ll never forget those first moment when my mom and grandparents held her. After the first few days she became pretty colicky and cried for hours at a time at night. The night before I went back to work she slept through the night for the first time. I praised God all day.

We moved back to Plymouth after her first birthday. I knew I could get a better job in graphics after seeing the Boston Sunday Globe’s  help wanted section. I ended up getting a job at Community Newspaper Company on the Cape, and we started our life back in Plymouth. Her father and I didn’t work out and eventually he made the difficult decision to move back to Vermont. 

I was a single mom for a long time. I went to as many school activities as I could, baked cupcakes for her birthday every year, and volunteered as often as I could. I loved it when I got my job in Boston because they allowed me more freedom to attend parent/teacher conferences and do what I needed to do for her. 

I loved it when she learned new skills such as  jumping in our backyard as a horse, drawing, and piano. Her laugh would make my day, and my favorite time of the day was when I would read her a bedtime story snuggled on her bed. When I found out I was expecting Adeline with Chris, I was over the moon. Another chance to enjoy those little moments. 

Adeline’s labor and delivery were the complete opposite of her sister. She took her time. She had to be evicted. She had a hard time nursing. She cried even more than her sister. I suffered post-partum and began wondering why did I do this to myself? Thank goodness when I went back to work and got back into a routine I was able to enjoy myself again. Addie proved to be a funny baby. She had a boisterous personality that she still has today. She adores her older sister, and followed her around the house. 

Adeline is very bright and is already recognizing words. She is the most like me out of the three. She is emotional, very distractible, but has an imagination like I have never seen. One of these days I am going to write down her sayings because half of the time I can hardly believe what I am hearing! She loves to run around and spend time with her cousins chasing each other around. Addie is an awesome helper in the kitchen, and I look forward to making more goodies with her for the holidays. I can’t imagine my life without her and when I think back to those first few weeks, it seems like such a small time period in comparison with how long it felt at the time. 

Isabelle’s impending arrival was also very different. We had been told she would need surgical intervention to live. It was hard to enjoy pregnancy after that. I was working at a conference at the Intercontinental Hotel when she decided to make her appearance. My manager at the time got me a cab and everyone wished me well as I went over to the Brigham while my husband made his way into town from Braintree. We tried to go the natural route but my body didn’t get that memo and we ended up having a c-section. The OB was so kind and apologetic, I didn’t mind that we ended up with a c-section because he made such an effort to help us have what we wanted. 

Isabelle has the most easy-going personality out of all my girls. She loves being around everyone, and enjoys just about everything. It’s almost like she knows how lucky we are and loves being here. I love watching her walk around the house and follow Addie around. Adeline is okay with it most of the time, but she certainly has her moments. My favorite is when Liz has BOTH girls following her around. Teenagers love that. 

Liz is a huge help with the girls and is a great big sister. I am so proud of her and am thrilled when I can get them all together for a picture. It’s very rare when that happens! 

All of my girls are named after some very special people in our lives. Elizabeth Marie is for my great-grandmother Elizabeth, and for Gordy’s grandmother Marion. Adeline Sara is for my beloved Nana Adeline, and Sara is for Chris’s grandmother. Isabelle Faith is for my dear grandfather Harry. His name was Israel but hardly anyone (if any) called him that. The ‘Faith’ is to remind me to have faith in spite of adversity. 

I am so blessed to have these amazing girls as my own. The only regret I have is I wish I had them a little closer in age, but it works out just the same. I used to tell Liz that I was the luckiest mommy in the world and I still feel that way today.ImageFami

Family, HLHS

Day 15 of 30 Days of Gratitude: I am grateful for Icing Smiles

Birthdays are special. Special, and ordinary at the same time. Everyone has a birthday, everyone gets cake. Or an ice cream cake if you are my husband. Certain birthdays are considered more special than others, like the first one. I never understood that more than with my Izzie.
During Isabelle’s first year there were many losses in the heart community. Babies who barely made their sixth month birthday or knew their parents arms. It was heart wrenching to read posts of these devastated parents trying to figure out what happened. I will never forget bringing Izzie to the ER after she didn’t take enough milk in over a few days and being told that if she got dehydrated, it would have been disastrous. I believe the phrase said to us was “a dehydrated hypoplast, is a dead hypoplast.” I never felt silly about bringing her in after that.
For some reason, I didn’t freak out like I thought I would during her open heart surgeries. Maybe it was because her surgeon made me feel secure. Or, I could have been in shock that once again she was going through a brutal repair. The moment when I wondered if we were ever leaving the hospital happened when her incision became infected. That upset me more than anything. What if we never get out of here? What if this sets things in motion to go the other way?
At that moment, celebrating a first birthday seemed distant, someone else’s dream.
As she recovered and we went home for the last time (until the next one), I could breathe a little easier. She began to act like a baby instead of a perpetual newborn. A first birthday would be more of a reality.
And here is where Icing smiles comes in. Here is an organization that donates cakes to medically fragile children and their siblings. And not just any cake, your child could get a dream cake, like you would see in Cake Boss! Dream cakes are only handed out once for each child but they could still receive a cake for their birthday if they qualify. I applied and we were accepted for a cake for Isabelle’s first birthday. Amazing. An ordinary object like a birthday cake made extraordinary.
We also got a baker out of the deal- Melissa, from Sweet Melissa’s Cookies and Cakes was so happy to have been part of our special milestone, and her cake was exquisite! I order her a cake for every birthday we have had because she does such an incredible job. It also gives me an excuse to thank her over and over again for giving us such an incredible cake to match our incredible moment of our daughter’s milestone.
I am so grateful to Icing Smiles for providing us with such a blessing I volunteered to spread the word. If there is a critically ill child that you know of who could use a pick me up, let me know!

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Day 14 of 30 days of Gratitude: I am grateful for the Plymouth High Schools Marching Band

From my mother who was a drum majorette to my sister who played the clarinet, there has always been a connection in my family to the Plymouth High School marching band. By the time I was in high school, I no longer played an instrument. The flute only held my interest for a few months, and the piano…well…we won’t go there. One day a friend of mine suggested that we join colorguard. We would sell M&Ms and go to Disney. We could get glory jackets with ‘Plymouth-Carver’ on them. And we could be in parades. 

I was sold! Sure I couldn’t throw a rifle to save my life but I was sure I could learn. I ended up with a flag and something to do after school besides drama. We were quite the crew trying to do dropspins at the same time and failing. Miserably. I was told I needed to be at band camp that summer and found myself getting yelled at by a girl I was terrified to piss off. I managed to piss her off a lot, apparently. Lynn and I practiced and marched in the parades wearing royal blue shirts with white pants. White pants. I still can’t figure that one out. It is always a bad combination for me. 

Once I began learning the various tricks and routine, I fell in love with the whole band scene and for the first time really felt like I was part of something. I made friends, and became closer to ones I already was in classes with. There was a few groups I felt part of- the Woodwinds crew of Jen, Kristin, Andrea, and Kristen G and the drumline made up of Shari, Chris B and Jeff. In spite of the heinous uniforms which made absolutely NO SENSE to me at all (I mean, cowboy hats? Plymouth isn’t exactly close to Texas) I was so proud to be marching with my friends.  In those days we only had a few competitions (or maybe it was just one), and we didn’t practice every weekend like the kids do now. My daughter had a competition practically every weekend this fall. 

Tonight she got her letter and glory jacket. First thing I noticed was that they don’t print the town name on the back anymore.  They are blue with the PN on the front, name and graduation year on the sleeve. I remembered mine was a nice wool one with white caps on the shoulders and ‘Plymouth-Carver’ on the back. Vintage! Liz deserved every stitch on hers and then some. She began playing the flute at Nathaniel Morton, and I remember the day when she first held it in her hands and attempted to make a sound out of it. Currently, she plays the marimba, the flute and has played keyboards. She is the section leader for the front ensemble, aka ‘Pit’. This weekend marks her first Winter Percussion rehearsal. I can’t wait.

When each student was called to get their jacket, a parent would meet them in front, put it on them and have their picture taken with both band directors. Addie just happened to have to go ‘pees’ right when they were about to begin handing them out. Liz was called first. I missed it. I was so distraught my husband couldn’t speak to me for at least 5 minutes. I had been waiting for this for weeks! I loved band, I loved my jacket- how fitting it would have been for me to put hers on her? It took me almost an hour to walk through that disappointment and as I thought about my band life, I realized why I was so upset.

I wanted my second chance. You see, I was getting high at this point of my life. As ashamed as I am to admit it, I was definitely not sober when I received my jacket. It was awards night and as colorguard captain for Plymouth North, it was my responsibility to present awards to my teammates. Rather than think of poignant, thoughtful words to describe my friends, I chose the “Trying to be Funny” approach. It was awkward. People were really angry at me and I made a complete fool out of myself. I cringe when I think about it even now. The silence. The hurt expressions when I made a joke at someone’s expense. Losing track of what I was saying in front of PARENTS. It was just bad. 

Tonight we watched a video of the band’s last competition performance. It took place in Lawrence and they placed bronze. When the video began playing I felt tears welling up in my eyes as I heard Liz’s notes and watched kids that have shared many concerts performing together, move together in unison, on point. Practically flawless. Now, for those of you who were in band with me circa 1990, ‘flawless’ is not a word that would be anywhere near the phrase “Plymouth High Schools Band”. The colorguard was synchronized, the drumline strong and the movements were amazing. The kids kicked ass. Absolutely kicked ass. Words can’t express how proud I am of them. 

Liz’s first years in band were with a director named Mr. Leone. He was a hardass and scolded the kids when they didn’t practice. Called them ‘fishheads’. I loved him. I loved the music he brought out of them: Star Wars, Phantom of the Opera…I could hardly believe what I was hearing from these 5 and 6th graders. Now here they are as juniors and seniors. Incredible musicians with a love for band. You can see it when they march. They are pretty dead serious as they step in time down Sandwich street. They joke a lot, ALOT when they are waiting to step off but once they do….it’s on. 

The Parents’ Music Association talked about new uniforms tonight. Apparently, the uniforms they are wearing now are over 18 years old. The ones that were purchased when I was in band- the god awful blue and white, cowboy hat, gray sash, looks nothing like a Plymouth band should like uniform was only used for 6 years. 6 years. Wow. What a waste of money covered in lots of bad taste. The reason for the black uniforms they wear now is because of the two high schools. Can’t exactly have blue and white when the other colors are teal and black. Good thing, because those things were atrocious. Are you sensing a theme here? The good news is the Association is active and planning ahead. There is even talk of marching in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. The sky is the limit, and these kids are willing to meet the bar. 

So when I thought about how disappointed I was, I had to look hard at the reason why. I made it about me. About my failures as a teenager. My shame when one of my friends snapped at me for being wasted at a function. It sucked and I wanted to have those minutes back. They are gone, and that’s ok. Liz looked great in her jacket and I couldn’t be prouder of her. If you are in Plymouth for the parade next week, the Plymouth High Schools Band is opening for the drum corp at Memorial Hall. If you can, go take a listen.