Hi everyone, it's Dan here taking a turn blogging on Mariel's Rose. First things first: Mary and I want to wish everyone a very happy new year! This has been a bizarre holiday season for our family to say the least. We departed for Florida on December 11, and with everything we needed to do before we left we didn't even get around to sending out holiday cards this year. We hope all of your holidays were wonderful and that all of our friends and family have gotten off to a fantastic start to 2012.
We also want to thank and acknowledge all of you who have reached out to us during the past few weeks. So many of you have sent cards and gifts to Mariel, going above and beyond the call of duty, and we really can't thank you enough!
We just have to mention specifically that several of Mariel's Possum Lane friends contributed to a little photo album that our next-door neighbor Kelly so graciously organized (unbeknownst to us). The gift was wrapped with strict instructions not to open it until Christmas. When we opened it we discovered that it included photos of our house, photos of each of the children and artwork and personal notes from each of them. Mariel lit up when she opened this gift and has asked to look through it several times since. This really brought a tear to Mary's and my eyes. What a touching, thoughtful gesture.
We also must send HUGE THANKS to Mary's sister Janine, her husband Craig and their precious daughters, Julia and Samantha, who literally brought Christmas to us in Florida. They showed up at our condo on Christmas morning with a Christmas tree (which was decorated in record time by the girls), an enormous amount of food and tons of beautifully wrapped presents for Mariel. Mariel was genuinely excited all day long to have her aunt, uncle and cousins (with whom we traditionally spend Christmas) here at our "home away from home," and they really made it feel like as normal a Christmas as it could possibly feel under the circumstances. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts -- we will be forever grateful.
Our days caring for Mariel have normalized to some extent. Our primary daily events are physical therapy every morning and the one we *all* dread -- wound care -- every evening. Surrounding these events are a plethora of less burdensome, but vital, responsibilities such as medication/pain management and our four-times-daily fixator adjustments (which is how we're actually growing Mariel's femur and tibia).
We have started to venture out and try to have some fun for a few hours here and there, the biggest challenge being that Mariel is not mobile and has to stay in her jog stroller whenever we're not at home or in the car. We had a truly wonderful lunch a few days ago at an excellent, funky restaurant (with a terrific beer menu) up in Jupiter called Little Moir's Leftover's Cafe. Thanks to Servando, one of Dr. Paley's amazing assistants, for the fabulous recommendation. Servando also recommended DuBois Park in Jupiter where the waves and current are gentle. We enjoyed a few hours there and plan to take Mariel in the ocean when the air temperatures warm up (we're currently experiencing a cold snap) as seawater is highly recommended for pin site healing and disinfection purposes.
We also spent a few hours on Saturday (New Years Eve Day) at a fantastic park just 10 minutes from our condo, John D. MacArthur Beach State Park. This place is simply amazing, with fantastic trails, an awesome 1/3 mile boardwalk/footbridge that crosses the inter-coastal waterway (see pic), and absolutely beautiful beaches with tons of seashells. We found this park to be so serene -- "just what the doctor ordered" -- and we'll definitely be going back soon!
Other than all of the medical challenges, the biggest "stressor" for us all right now is that my time down here on this visit will be coming to an end this Monday when I have to fly home to Connecticut and get back to environmental law and teaching, leaving Mary and Mariel here in Florida to continue the *really hard* work of growing bone. This will be difficult for our family on so many levels. As difficult as it will be for Mary and me to be apart for weeks at a time (I know I will miss her like crazy), I'm confident that we will handle the separation just fine. I'm most concerned about separation anxiety for Mariel who is used to spending "quality time" with her dad at a minimum every morning and every night during the work week. Over the last month we've literally been together 24/7 every single day. She has truly become a daddy's girl, and I worry about how she will handle not seeing me for 3 weeks, especially in light of what she's currently going through medically (Oh, who am I kidding? I really worry about how *I* will handle not seeing *her* for three weeks!!!). We plan to keep in daily touch using Facetime and Skype, and our time apart will just have to be one more challenge that we will all conquer together as a family.