A Highly Successful Vacation Redo!

My girls standing at Pickering Wharf in Salem, MA

I can honestly say that this most recent vacation with my girls was the best one we’ve had so far. We crammed a lot into it while still finding time to relax and best of all, we had fun! Having spent last year’s vacation in hospitals, Jaycie was eager to do things on this vacation and every day she enthusiastically asked, “What are we doing tomorrow?” She wanted every day filled with something and for a girl who admits that she’s lazy and is proud of that fact, it was an amazing thing to experience!

While the drive out was filled with the usual traffic on 495 the last hour or so, we all had a good time. The girls watched movies on my laptop and I listened to my music up front. We stopped plenty of times for leg stretches and snacks and I didn’t worry about being stuck in traffic because we were in no rush.

We arrived at the Best Western Merrimack Valley in Haverhill, MA a little after 5 p.m. and I was immediately impressed by the cleanliness of the facility and the friendliness of the staff. Our room was on the third floor and I was pleasantly surprised to find that we had our own private balcony with a sliding glass door leading out to it. Being on the top floor, the room had high, upward slanting ceilings and was very spacious. We had two queen beds and they were very comfortable with clean bedding. The room felt very homey and welcoming and I knew we’d be happy there.

Shortly after unpacking the car, the girls and I headed down the road to the 99 Restaurant. We don’t have 99’s where we live in New York, so it’s a treat going to one in New England. Although the restaurant was a little busy for a Wednesday night, we had a great waitress and got our food relatively quickly. The food was delicious and the girls devoured their food, while I took half of mine back to the hotel to eat later. It was a great first evening on our vacation.

The next morning, we headed into Newburyport for the Newburyport Whale Watch. This was what Jaycie had been most excited about and her excitement continued for the entire cruise. She loves boats and being out on the ocean and she was smiling, animated, and happy the entire time. We saw a large pod of dolphins, a sunfish called a mola mola, a couple minke whales, and a humpback whale. At one point, Jaycie was walking back and forth through the lower level of the boat checking one side and the other for whales as the narrator of the tour suggested. She’s spent most of the summer relaxing on the couch or outside swinging so watching her be so animated was almost like seeing a different child. Jordan enjoyed herself too, but was a bit more reserved in a typical 15-year-old fashion. She’d go up on the upper levels of the boat or sit inside reading the book she brought along.

We ate lunch on the boat and weren’t quite ready for dinner yet so we headed into Amesbury, MA to Friendly’s for some ice cream. Ice cream after several hours in the sun on a boat was just what we needed and we decided to just have dinner back at the hotel after picking up some groceries.

On Friday, we headed into Salem, MA because the girls had never been there. I’ve visited twice before, once in October and once in the summer, so I knew my way around pretty well. We walked the streets a bit and I took the girls to the Salem Witch Memorial and around the graveyard a little. We then ate lunch in Red’s Sandwich Shop, which was delicious! Jordan and I brought over half of our lunches with us and they were worth carrying around Salem for a bit before we returned to the car. We visited the Peabody Essex Museum just for the gift shop and to enjoy the air conditioning and then decided it was time to head back to the hotel. We ended up back at the hotel most evenings by 5 p.m. and that was fine with all of us because we were tired.

Saturday, we headed into Boston via the Oak Grove T Station and we got in shortly before lunch. Comic Con Boston was going on so we headed toward the Convention Center just to people watch. On the way there we stopped at South Station for lunch in the food court area because we could all get what we wanted and it was nice and air conditioned! We eventually reached where Comic Con was happening and sat down outside to watch people coming and going. It was fun seeing all the people dressed in costumes and trying to guess what some of them were. Jaycie didn’t quite understand why Jordan and I were so excited seeing people in costumes, but she was a trooper and made the walk for us.

After that we headed back to South Station and then took the necessary subway lines back to where we’d parked the car at Oak Grove. It was a good day to be in Boston because there had been some clouds and a nice breeze, but we were all hot and tired nonetheless. I showered once we got back to the hotel to wash the T humidity off of me and we just relaxed for the evening again.

I’d determined Sunday would be our day of not doing anything and that’s indeed what it turned out to be. We hung out at the hotel for most of the day then drove to a nearby town in New Hampshire to get Popeye’s and Long John Silver’s for dinner. We don’t have either of those chains near us so again, it was a treat for us. I got my beloved hush puppies from Long John’s while the girls got chicken and biscuits and we all ate happily back at the hotel.

Monday, we headed up to Portsmouth, NH for a bit and then drove the short ways up to Nubble Lighthouse in Maine. There’s not enough parking at the lighthouse for the endless stream of cars coming in so we ended up parking at the ice cream place up the road and walking down to the lighthouse area for a bit. We then walked back up the hill and enjoyed ridiculous large “kiddie” size ice cream dishes as a reward for our exercise.

The highlight of Tuesday was heading to Hampton Beach State Park in New Hampshire in the afternoon. The girls had a ball walking and splashing in the waves and as they both said that was their favorite part of the trip, we’ll be spending more time at the beach next summer. Actually, when I asked Jaycie what her favorite part of the day was at the end of the day she’d always say getting whatever toy I happened to buy her. When I asked Jordan what her favorite part was, she’d say not being in a hospital. So having both girls agree that the beach was the best part was quite impressive.

Although the hotel was nice, clean, conveniently located, and had a lovely indoor pool that Jaycie enjoyed, we all three agreed that next year we’re going to rent a cottage on Plum Island, MA again. It’s just nice staying in a home where I can make dinner and we can just hang out and enjoy our surroundings. I’m going to try and reserve the cottage I stayed in our first week long vacation in New England because it was on Plum Island sound and I loved watching the various birds fly overhead every morning and see the tide come in and out from the sound. As I have a whole year to save up for next summer’s trip, I know I won’t have to type my fingers off the last couple months before the trip and I won’t feel quite so pressured. Next summer sounds like a long way away considering this summer isn’t over yet, but I know it will be here sooner than we expect!

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Massachusetts Adventures with my Oldest Daughter

birthday brownie by JulieAnn Corbin

Jordan with her flaming birthday brownie on her birthday.

My oldest daughter Jordan turned 14 on August 8th and the week following her birthday was one none of us will ever forget.

My two daughters and I left on our vacation to Massachusetts the day after Jordan’s birthday and the day after that, her younger sister Jaycie was admitted to Beverly Hospital in MA with severe stomach pain. Everything that happened with Jaycie and her eventual diagnosis of appendicitis overshadowed what was supposed to be a fun family vacation, but my oldest daughter Jordan handled it all with a maturity, calmness and strength that made me extremely proud.

When Jordan and I left Beverly Hospital Wednesday night, the first thing she did was move stuff around so she could sit in the passenger sit. She always sits in the back with her sister when I have both of them in the car, but now and then when it’s just the two of us, she’ll sit up front with me. I was happy to have her riding “shotgun” especially since it was dark by that point and I don’t have the best night vision. Upon arriving back at the hotel, we walked next door to the Sonic and got a rather late dinner. We’d never been to a Sonic before and perhaps it was just the circumstances, but the food tasted soooo good after such a long day!

Jordan remained my loyal copilot for the remainder of our travels while Jaycie was in the hospital receiving treatment. As I don’t have the best sense of direction, it was Jordan who kept us from getting lost in first Beverly Hospital and then Boston Children’s Hospital. She was great company to me and always managed to help keep things light even while I was worried about and taking care of Jaycie in the hospital. Jordan tried to cheer up her sister as best she could, but for the first few days, Jaycie was in too much pain and discomfort for anything aside from TV to make her happy.

Jordan helped me pick out the purple striped cat from the Beverly Hospital gift shop that we gave to Jaycie as a get well gift. Jaycie clung to that stuffed cat quite a bit during her hospital stays. Jaycie loves dressing her stuffed animals up in doll clothes so I asked her if she wanted Jordan and I to find it a shirt to wear. She said yes, so Thursday night Jordan and I headed to a nearby Target after leaving the hospital.

It was after 9 p.m. when we arrived at Target and we were both a bit punchy, looped and tired. Even so, we managed to navigate through the large Target store, find some onesies for the stuffed cat and buy a few groceries we needed. My original plan had been to buy groceries at Market Basket the day after our arrival, but as we didn’t end up spending much time at the hotel room making meals, that didn’t happen. Target had everything we needed, including the Captain America Civil War action figure set and small Transformer toy we gave Jaycie the next day. Although it was not at all what I’d planned or intended Jordan and I had some great laughs trying to navigate Target late at night.

During this whole time, the Summer Olympics were happening in Rio so every night when Jordan and I returned to the hotel room, we’d watch an hour or so of Olympic coverage. Unfortunately, they mostly just showed things that didn’t interest us like swimming and track and field, but at least we got to see some of the Olympics. Watching the games was a good way to wind down after a stressful day at the hospital with Jaycie. Jordan only slept in the room’s sofa bed the first night when her sister was there with her. After that, she slept in the queen size bed with me. I haven’t slept with Jordan in my bed since she was a baby and I’m used to sleeping alone but she and I managed not to kick or roll over onto each other during the night.

While Jaycie was at Beverly Hospital, Jordan and I would leave the room every couple hours to stretch our legs and/or get food and drinks. Beverly was a very nice hospital with plenty of places to sit and view the landscaping and ample vending machines to grab snacks from. We went to the cafeteria for lunch or dinner a couple times and they had a great selection of food. We usually got whatever soup they had for the day and I was nice enough to eat the floating cooked onions off the top of Jordan’s soup during one lunch visit. The temperatures outside were quite hot but we got our daily dose of fresh air by going out the front hospital doors and sitting on the benches for a couple minutes until we couldn’t stand it anymore. One night when we left the hospital it was so humid there was moisture on the inside and outside of my windows, which made the drive back to the hotel trickier than usual.

The girls and I have taken many trips into Boston over the past few years so the city wasn’t new to Jordan when she and I had to start traveling their daily to be with Jaycie at Boston Children’s Hospital. What was new though was the amount of time and station navigation required to take the T to the hospital. I didn’t even venture into a city until I was years older than Jordan and I probably would have been overwhelmed at 14, but Jordan handled it quite well and we stuck together through it all. There were a few cooler days during our week in MA but most of the time it was summer heat and that meant dealing with sticky, hot subway stations. Jordan is prone to blisters on her feet when she walks a lot and while she did get blisters she soldiered on and continued to be my constant companion.

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Jordan resting on a station bench while we wait for the T.

I’m quite sure I would have become permanently lost in BCH were it not for Jordan always pointing me in the right direction. She and I walked outside the hospital for a bit during the one day when the weather cooled off and it felt wonderful to be out in the fresh air. I love Boston and even though the circumstances were light years from ideal, I was happy to be in the city and feel its energetic vibe. I think Jordan is happier in the country where it’s quieter and less hectic, but perhaps someday she’ll change her mind.

Since 2011 when my divorce was finalized and I started rediscovering who I was, I’ve exposed both my girls to much more than I experienced at their age and I think that’s a very good thing. I think it’s important for them to see that there’s so much more to the world than just the small area of New York State they spend most of their time in. Although Jordan may remain in NY for her entire life, Jaycie hopes to live in or near Boston someday and as that’s my goal as well, that’s fine by me!

The adventures with Jordan made me so proud of her and I feel honored that I’m her mother. The path she chooses for her life is entirely up to her but at least during the times I have her, I can open her eyes to the great potential of life.

Not the vacation we planned – Part 3 (conclusion)

BCH by JulieAnn Corbin

Jaycie looking much healthier at BCH!

Although I hadn’t expected that Jaycie would eventually end up at Boston Children’s Hospital, I knew that she was receiving the best possible care and that they would be able to do whatever it took to get her healthy again. Our original plans for vacation had involved spending a day in Boston, but we ended up spending much more time in the city than that and not under the fun circumstances I had planned.

I’d talked to my ex-husband a few times on the phone and he was going to drive out the night they transferred Jaycie to BCH (Friday) to be there Saturday morning. Knowing he was going to be there with Jaycie in the morning, Jordan and I didn’t feel as rushed to get back to the hospital and ate some breakfast at the hotel Saturday morning before heading to the Oak Grove T station to take the subway in. Driving into Boston in the late evening was one thing, trying to drive in on a Saturday morning was not something I was ready to try.

Using the subway took longer than I expected, but when we arrived at the hospital, Jaycie was sitting up in a recliner chair they’d brought in and happily watching TV. She looked the healthiest I’d seen her since picking her up the previous Sunday from her father’s house. My ex-husband was reading on the sofa bed by the window and Jordan was happy to see him.

Jaycie’s nurse for the weekend was named Chris and he was very friendly and informative. He encouraged us to get her up and walking around more and to make sure she kept eating and drinking. The doctors and nurses all explained to me that with perforated appendicitis with abscesses, they prefer to let the child heal before removing the appendix. They had Jaycie on antibiotics and fluids still and they said that they could drain the abscess if necessary, but that they didn’t always. As it turned out, the abscess or abscesses weren’t in a place that was easy to drain so they decided a course of antibiotics and waiting 6 weeks to remove the appendix was the best course of action.

Jordan and I spent some time in Jaycie’s and I updated my ex-husband on the situation and what had occurred up to that point. His fiancé was arriving by train that night and they were going to figure out a place to stay for the night. There was more color in Jaycie’s face and she was smiling and even laughing, which reassured me that she was finally on the road to recovery.

Satisfied that Jaycie would be fine in the company of her father and the care of the hospital staff, Jordan and I left the hospital and walked down the street to the food court we could see from Jaycie’s hospital room window. We picked up some lunch for ourselves and the girls’ father and returned to the room to eat. After a few more hours in the room helping Jaycie eat, drink, use the bathroom and walk around the hallways, I decided that Jordan and I should head out in search of food for dinner. I always go to Faneuil Hall Marketplace during my Boston visits so we hopped on the T and made our way there.

Going to the marketplace during the dinner hours was a bad idea and it took us almost two hours of waiting in line and riding the T to get back to the hospital. Even so, it was a nice change to be out of the hospital for a while and actually taking in some of Boston. I saw the horse drawn carriages lined up and decided to snap a picture to remind us that we hadn’t spent the entire time in BCH.

horse drawn carriages in Boston by JulieAnn Corbin

Once back in the room, we all ate our food hungrily and wiled away the time with what had become the usual hospital routine for Jordan and I. My ex-husband was going to stay at the hospital until he had to pick up his fiancé from the train station so around 8 p.m., Jordan and I decided to leave for the night. We knew another day of the similar routine awaited us tomorrow but that we’d have a bit of break now that the girls’ father was in the city.

The next day, Sunday, Jordan and I arrived at the hospital to find that they were cleaning Jaycie up with some wipes because she hadn’t wanted to shower. She doesn’t enjoy showering when she’s healthy so I can understand her not wanting to deal with it when she was unwell. After she was cleaned up, Jaycie put on clean hospital clothing and resumed her usual TV watching. Jordan and I brought her some Avengers action figures and a Transformer to play with a few days prior and she was actually interested in playing with them that day, which was a huge improvement!

I had promised Jordan we’d make it to a bookstore while in Boston and even though that promise had been part of the plans prior to Jaycie becoming sick, I was determined to make it happen. With my ex-husband and his fiancé keeping Jaycie company, Jordan and I set off after lunch to take the T to Barnes & Noble. As that falls under my future blog post detailing my adventures with Jordan, I’ll elaborate later.

We returned to the hospital with two new books for Jordan and a My Little Pony graphic novel for Jaycie. Jaycie immediately started looking through the comic book, which made me almost as happy as she was to receive it.

Jaycie had improved immensely over the past two days at Boston Children’s Hospital and the nurse had said she might be able to leave the following day, Monday. Jaycie was eating normally, including her favorite snack of goldfish, and they were switching her to oral antibiotics to get her off the IV version. My ex-husband and his fiancé decided to drive back to NY that evening and I admit that it was nice to get back to just the three of us. My girls are my world, we’re a triumphant trio no matter what shape we’re in and I’m just more comfortable when it’s me and my girls.

Jaycie spent one final night at Boston Children’s Hospital and we were finally able to take her back to the hotel Monday evening around rush hour. I’d driven into Boston Monday morning because I knew she wouldn’t be able to handle the T and that drive was not a fun experience. If one more person honked at me to run a light or pull through an intersection when it wasn’t safe, I was on the verge of getting out of my car to pummel them. I would never actually do something like that, but they were messing with the wrong mama at that point!

BCH by JulieAnn Corbin

Jaycie waiting for the valet to bring our car from the hospital parking garage.

We managed to get back safely to the hotel and Jaycie was finally able to enjoy the hotel pool, which was the main reason I’d decided to book a hotel instead of rent a cottage for our summer vacation. She spent almost an hour in the pool and she was the usual smiling and happy Jaycie that Jordan and I knew. I was glad she’d had some time in the pool finally but I still wished she hadn’t had to endure so much pain and discomfort over the past several days.

Jaycie finally in the hotel pool!

Jaycie finally in the hotel pool!

Our vacation was supposed to be a fun time filled with happy memories and instead it was stressful and exhausting for all of us. Although I know that life happens and things were beyond my control, I still felt like I had failed my girls somehow by not giving them the trip we’d planned on. I’m a mom first and foremost and the health and happiness of my girls is the most important thing in the world to me. I can’t do anything to change the past and all that matters is that Jaycie gets healthy, but I’ve vowed to make next year’s summer vacation a fun and memorable time for all of us.

Not the vacation we planned – Part 2

View from BCH by JulieAnn Corbin

View from Jaycie’s hospital room at Boston Children’s Hospital

Upon learning that Jaycie would need to be transported via ambulance to Boston Children’s Hospital from Beverly Hospital, the steel reinforcements around my emotions began to crumble. Whenever Jordan and I were at the hospital, I would help Jaycie with whatever she needed.  This included helping her use the bathroom, cleaning her up, making sure she drank water, keeping her warm with sheets or blankets, switching DVDs, brushing her hair, asking for and giving her pain meds (she was in pain but dislikes medicine so she’d never ask) and so on. I’m her mother and it’s what I do and I knew the nurses deserved a break and were busy with other patients.

I’d stayed strong, calm and caring throughout the entire experience because I knew I had to be a rock for my girls, but it was an exhausting experience overall and took its toll. Learning that Jaycie needed more care than Beverly Hospital could provide weakened my walls temporarily. I had to go into the hospital room’s bathroom to cry for a bit because it was becoming too overwhelming. When I called my ex-husband/the girls’ father to tell him about Jaycie being moved, I started crying when I was leaving the message. I really wish I hadn’t done that because he’s the last person I want to appear “weak” to, but I couldn’t help it.

I managed to suck it up and compose myself by the time Jaycie was taken to the ambulance by the friendly ambulance drivers. She seemed unconcerned by the whole thing as I think by that point, she was too exhausted to care or really know what was going on. Jordan and I said goodbye to Jaycie and then went out to my car to find the best route to Boston Children’s Hospital. The ambulance drivers reassured us that we didn’t need to follow right behind them, in fact they encouraged us not to and as they’d be dealing with heavy traffic into Boston, so we didn’t need to rush too much. As it was after dinner and neither of us had eaten since lunch, I drove to the closest Dunkin Donuts for some food. Jordan ate her donut in the restaurant but I took my bagel sandwich to go since I wanted to get on the road to the hospital.

I’m going to dedicate an entire separate blog post or two to my oldest daughter Jordan because she was such an immense help and amazing co-pilot throughout the entire situation with Jaycie. An example of this was how she broke off and handed me pieces of the bagel sandwich as I drove into Boston. The bagel was hard to tear up so I’d get pieces of just bagel, or bagel and cheese or some bacon and at one point, just a chunk of egg. Even so, I got food in my while managing to navigate and that would have been much harder without Jordan’s help! Jordan really is a wonderful 14 year old young woman and although I’m her mother and I’m biased, I think anyone that meets her would agree.

When Jordan and I arrived at Boston Children’s Hospital, we managed to find the correct parking garage and park in the first empty spot I found. We then crossed the street to the hospital and discovered that the entrance was under construction so we had to walk a rather long way around to get to the doors. We got the appropriate temporary badges, found the Emergency Room entrance and were taken immediately back to Jaycie who lay waiting in one of the Emergency area rooms. Although the room was small, it had a door that closed and helped keep the noise out. Jaycie was happy to see us and seemed tired but otherwise the same as she had been.

A couple doctors and nurses came to speak to us once we arrived and explained the situation and I was immediately reassured and calmed by their obvious understanding and knowledge of her condition. They were extremely friendly and willing to answer questions and I realized that we were exactly where we were meant to be. Shortly after we arrived, Jaycie being Jaycie asked if I could turn the TV on. As the TV was hung directly on the wall above where we were sitting, I hadn’t even known it was there, but Jaycie certainly didn’t miss it! I found the remote, turned the TV on and found Disney for her and then Jaycie was content to watch TV until her room upstairs was ready.

I believe we sat in the Emergency Room for around an hour or less before they came to take Jaycie upstairs to her room. It was after 10pm by that point. We were all tired but my girls were troopers and I was back to being a rock so we were hanging in there. A very friendly male nurse came to wheel Jaycie upstairs and I was surprised to learn we were on the 10th floor in one of the new wings called 10 Northwest. We went down so many hallways I was certain I’d get lost trying to navigate, but fortunately Jordan has a better sense of direction than I do.

When we reached Jaycie’s private room, I was surprised to find that it was bigger than my living room! Mind you, my house is rather small, but I didn’t know that private hospital rooms that large even existed. She had a TV, mini fridge, table with a couple chairs and a sofa bed by the window with a rather nice view of the city. The flat screen TV was huge and of course Jaycie wanted it turned on almost immediately. The evening nurse came and spoke to us for a bit and reassured us that Jaycie would be fine overnight when I told her we’d be going back to the hotel to sleep. Jaycie seemed as happy as she could be considering the discomfort she was in and she even smiled a little while watching TV. Confident that Jaycie would fall asleep soon and that the nurses would take great care of her, Jordan and I left her for the night.

To be continued…

Not the vacation we planned – Part 1

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Outside of Beverly Hospital

The vacation with my girls this summer was supposed to be full of fun adventures/misadventures, but instead, it was spent in emergency rooms and hospitals.

My youngest daughter wasn’t feeling well over the weekend she spent with her father, but we just thought it was a stomach bug. She started to feel a bit better Monday night and said she wanted to go on the trip Tuesday, so we hit the road Tuesday morning. She was a bit tired and slow moving on the drive but she ate some food and seemed in decent spirits.

We arrived at our queen “suite” Tuesday evening after a long day of driving and were disappointed by the size and layout of the room. That’s a story for another day though as I’m still trying to resolve the issue with Hilton. That night when Jaycie went to the bathroom she cried and complained of right side pain. That was the first time she’d specified a region of pain and I didn’t take it as a good sign.

The next morning, Wednesday, I decided to take her to an urgent care near the hotel. The doctor at urgent care couldn’t help her because they didn’t have the right equipment so they sent us to the emergency room at Beverly Hospital. She’d become dehydrated over the weekend with her father and I’d been having her drink as much as possible since I picked her up Sunday, but as soon as she got into an emergency room, the nurse could tell she was still dehydrated and started her on IV liquids. Jaycie cried getting the IV put in and my oldest daughter and I almost started crying too because we hated seeing her in pain and scared. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the last time Jaycie would be in such a state.

The doctors at Beverly Hospital decided to do an ultrasound to see if they could find the cause of her pain and when that produced inconclusive results, they admitted her to the hospital for observation. The doctors and nurses were all very nice and Jaycie went into a nice private room upstairs. Once she was settled in, Jordan and I went back to the hotel to sleep because we were exhausted. I told my family and close friends about what was going on and they offered their support and well wishes, which meant the world to me.

The next day at the hospital, Thursday, the doctors said they didn’t think that she would require surgery for whatever the issue was, so they said she could start eating normal food again. I ordered her food she would normally like but she didn’t want to eat any of it and only ate a few bites of breakfast, lunch and dinner because I insisted she needed to eat to get better.

Throughout the entire hospital experience, the one thing that helped Jaycie was having a TV with a DVD player in her room. She watched several movies and that kept her spirits up and her mind off her discomfort. Jordan read her books and I distracted myself with Warcraft to pass the time as we waited for doctors and nurses to figure out what was wrong with Jaycie and how to make her better.

Jordan and I went back to the hotel to sleep Thursday night and when we came back Friday morning, the doctor said she was concerned that Jaycie wasn’t improving as they’d hoped. They’d thought she had a uti or some sort of intestinal bug, but as she had been on antibiotics since getting into the emergency room and still wasn’t improving, they began to wonder if it was something else, like appendicitis.

I’d wondered if it was appendicitis from the moment she complained of right side pain but the doctors hadn’t wanted to do a CT scan due to the radiation until they’d exhausted other options. They did an x-ray on Jaycie Friday afternoon and when that showed fluid where it didn’t belong, they decided it was time for a CT scan.

Almost the entire time that Jaycie’s abdomen hurt, she was also complaining of right shoulder pain and my oldest friend kept insisting Jaycie should get a CT scan because her son had right shoulder pain associated with his ruptured appendix. As it turned out, she was right that it had to do with Jaycie’s appendix as the CT scan revealed perforated appendicitis with abscesses.

Beverly Hospital didn’t have the capabilities to treat Jaycie’s condition so they informed me that they’d be moving her to Boston Children’s Hospital via ambulance that Friday night. I’d been holding it together pretty well until then but learning that they had to move my daughter to a different hospital made me think it was something even more serious than I realized and I started to crumble a bit.

As this has turned into an epic novel of a blog post, I will continue it another day.

Upcoming Massachusetts Adventures of the Triumphant Trio!

Boston trip by JulieAnn Corbin

My daughters and I at Long Wharf, Boston, 2014

Next Tuesday, my daughters and I hitting the road and heading to Massachusetts for our annual summer vacation. The triumphant trio rides again! The past two summers we stayed in cottages on Plum Island because I love the ocean. As my girls love the pool more than the ocean, I decided we’d stay in a nice hotel with a pool for this year’s trip. I chose a Homewood Suites by Hilton because of their lovely looking accommodations with kitchenettes, ideal location, daily hot breakfasts, evening socials and of course, the pool.

We’ll be closer to Boston and Salem this trip but we’ll still head up to the North Shore area of Massachusetts to enjoy our favorite areas there. We’re going to take a whale watching tour that heads out of Newburyport, visit downtown Amesbury and Cider Hill Farm, and head into Boston for a day like we always do. We haven’t gone on a whale watch in several years and the one we took out of Boston last time was full of interesting adventures that didn’t exactly equal fun.

tired girls by JulieAnn Corbin

How the girls looked heading back from the Boston Whale watch. Jordan wasn’t crying, just tired. Lol.

Aside from that, I have no set plans. I want to take the girls into Salem, MA because I’ve been there twice in October, but never during the summer. The girls have never been to Salem and I figure visiting in summer will be less “spooky” than visiting in October. I’d also like to take them to Plymouth, but I’m not sure if that will happen, it depends on how much energy we have.

I love these vacations with my daughters because it’s the only time I get to have an entire uninterrupted week with them. I share custody 50/50 with their father and while I’ve grown to like my alone time, I always miss my girls when I don’t have them. My daughters are the best part of my life and nothing will ever be more important than them. I love them more than words and I love being a mother.

My girls and I always have interesting and unforgettable adventures on our vacations. We retell stories from years ago that still make us laugh. Laughing is definitely something we do quite often when we’re together. We’re all happy and at ease when we’re together and as this is a vacation and I don’t plan on working, I won’t feel as conflicted as I do when we’re home. To say that I’ve been looking forward to this trip since I booked it in February is an understatement!

Although my girls don’t enjoy the driving out part as much as I do, we still have fun when we’re on the road. I’m up front as the pilot while they watch DVDs, write, color or read in the back seats. I do periodically have to tell them to “stop touching each other” but it’s in a joking way because they get along extremely well for sisters that are four years apart in age. Jordan is turning 14 the day before our trip and she’s a younger version of my sarcastic self so we tend to banter when we’re together. Jaycie is 10 and like me in her lack of tidiness and her love of daydreaming, so I’m sure she’ll be telling me interesting things and random facts she read in a book months ago.

It’s hard to believe that the time of our trip is almost here, but I know that time moves along whether we want it to or not. I’m going to cherish every moment of our vacation just as I do every moment with my girls and I look forward to the upcoming Massachusetts adventures/misadventures of the triumphant trio!

Changing up my New England trips

This bridge over the Hudson River is one of my favorites on my New England drives.

When I cross this bridge on my New England road trips I know I’m close to MA.

When I started making frequent trips to New England, the dates I would visit were mostly random and didn’t usually coincide with any particular events. That all changed after I attended my first Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness pow-wow and realized I wanted to attend as many as I could. To that end, I’ve planned my trips around the dates of the MCNAA pow-wows for the past two years and I continued that tradition this spring with the Spring Planting Moon Pow-wow, their first pow-wow of the year. It was after that most recent trip that I realized it was past time to change things up a bit.

As usual for my most recent trip, I drove out on a Wednesday, stayed in a hotel up in Seabrook, NH, stocked up on a few groceries from Market Basket, visited Newburyport and Amesbury and took a day trip into Boston. I’d told the friend I’d known the longest from New England, and who was one of the main reasons for my first trip out that way, that I wanted to see them and they said they wanted to see me too. It had been a year since we saw each other and I thought a brief chat and a hug wasn’t too much to ask.

Unfortunately, when it came down to it my friend made excuses for why they couldn’t see me and we never saw each other. Although I tried to shrug it off at the time, it hurt my feelings and made me realize it was time for a change.

As it turned out, I did get my chat and my hug during that last trip, just not as I’d expected. I gave one of the MCNAA Board members a ride home after helping out Friday before the pow-wow and she and I had a nice chat while navigating the stop-and-go Memorial Day traffic. I received several hugs from familiar friends at the pow-wow and an especially tight one from Harry the Hawk, one of my favorite pow-wow dancers. So despite the hurt caused by someone I had called friend, the universe reminded me that I am a valued friend to others.

In the spirit of change and taking a different path, the main reason for my upcoming New England trip is to volunteer at and attend the MCNAA Summer Moon Pow-wow in Danvers, MA. I won’t be making any trips up to New Hampshire, northern MA or into Boston, not that there’s really time anyway. I will be heading out Thursday evening instead of Wednesday morning because I watch my girls for my ex Thursday and don’t want to miss time with them. Plus, heading out in the evening should help me miss a lot of the usual traffic I encounter in MA.

My hotel is a less than 10-minute drive from the pow-wow location at Endicott Park, which will be a welcome change from having to drive down from Seabrook, NH. I’ve never stayed in Danvers, only visited there for pow-wows so I’ll have to learn a completely new area, but I’m sure it will be good for me. It’s past time I explore more of Massachusetts than just the few specific locations I’ve visited and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of interesting experiences just like always. I’ll probably get all sorts of lost too…just like usual. 😉