Friday, March 30, 2012

Our new doggie, Eli

I knew we wouldn't be long without a furry friend at home.  Kendra's hole in her heart needed to be filled.  We will never forget Grady, but we are happy to have a new guy to love.  We think Grady is happy for us, too.

We picked up Eli tonight.  He's a funny mix of dachshund and lab.  Yep.  Funny.  Basically he's a long, short lab!  His family had to give him to a new home because they had to move to an apartment.  He's nine months old so about as big as he'll get.  We think he weighs about 30 pounds, which is about 20 less than Grady was.  Same body shape as Grady (long!) but smaller.

He's full of energy!  We got home somewhere around 7:00 and 2 1/2 hours later he has yet to lay down.  He's gone in and out the dog door a million times, and has played catch with Kendra just as much.  I've never met a dog who knows how to squeek a squeeky toy quite like Eli!   He literally puts it between his teeth and rapid-fire squeezes so it squeeks like crazy!  It is HYSTERICAL!

He's really smart.  And I mean REALLY smart.  On the ride home he wanted to get under the console between the two front seats.  I pulled him out and said no, maybe repeated that three more times, and the next time he tried I just said "NO" and he backed right out.  We got him some toys and he wanted to play fetch.  He's still a puppy so I expected that I'd have to tug the toy a bit to get it from him, but while I did I told him to drop it.  After a couple times, he just ran back and dropped it.  When we first got home, he went in and out a few times and then decided to poo on the carpet (!).  I yelled "NO!" and he stopped, mid poo!  Then I said, "GET OUT!" and pointed at the dog door, and he ran out.  He tried to come right back in and I said, "NO, stay out a minute!" and he backed right out the door!  I was really surprised he listened!  I watched him a few times he went out and saw he took care of his other business outside, so I think he gets it now.  Took no time at all.

On the way home we stopped by Petsmart to get him a harness (he only had a collar and I like the harness for walking).  He just about pulled my arm off!  So we will be working on walking etiquette!  I'm sure part of it was the newness of it all and he was very hyper about everything.  We'll have to go on some walks very soon--I'm sure he'll know what to do in no time. 

He is crate trained, but I'm hoping we can use the corral thing that we have set up for Grady around the doggie door, or maybe even just let him be out during the day while we're gone.   We have to leave in the morning for a couple hours, and I will likely crate him just because we'll be gone a few hours and I don't know what to expect.  But we're hoping he will be really obedient and can be trusted!  Time will tell!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I have such great friends!

My friend Gwen emailed and said she had done a little art project for Kendra.  She had taken a picture off of Facebook of Kendra and Grady and done a line-drawing for her on a piece of canvas.  The intent was for Kendra to be able to paint it or use markers or whatever to color it, but Kendra took one look at it and said, "There is no way I'm touching this==I want it to stay exactly the way it is."  It is so beautiful, and Kendra loves it so much!  Thank you, Gwen, for sharing your amazing artistic gift!
Here is the picture she used.  AMAZING.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Goodbye, Grady

Last night, I had to make the hard decision to put down our dog, Grady.  I hope it doesn't seem weird to post about the experience, but so many good things happened, too, that I wanted to remember it.

It was all very fast.  Thursday night we came home and he wasn't acting right.  Just seemed strange to me.  Mid-evening he was standing in living room and he just started crying while he was trying to walk.  I got on the floor to try to figure out what was wrong.  He had a large bulge on one side, toward the tail end.  It was very hard.  Grady laid down on the floor and I massaged it, and it went away!  I thought maybe he was just having some really bad gas (he's known to have some of that!).  I gave him a Tums, and we also took him for a walk hoping to move things along.  He seemed fine after that.

Friday morning I was in the kitchen making lunches and he came in but he was moving very slowly again.  No outcries of pain, but he didn't move unless he had to.  He always follows me around everywhere so that was out of character.  I gently lifted him from that area that was distended the previous night, and he yelped in pain.  I had to go to school, so I called my neighbor who is out of work right now and asked him if he would look in on Grady through the day.  He texted me twice during the day to say he appeared to be fine.  I made an appointment for him at the vet anyway.

I got home and Grady was outside.  He trotted over to me when he saw me, and I almost cancelled the appointment.  But then I lifted him from the same spot again, and he yelped.  Then he rolled on his back for a belly rub, and when I applied pressure he groaned loudly.  I knew I needed to take him in.

I had noticed that he had lost some weight--when we took him last weekend for a nail trim the harness was really loose.  Unusual for a basset.  When we got to the vet, I found out he had lost 11 pounds!  Nothing in food routine had changed, so that was the first bad sign.  The second one came when the doc listened to his heart.  He had a heart murmur he had never had before.  The vet took him for x rays.

The doc brought him back with the films, and he said right away that it didn't look good.  He was so thorough in explaining everything to me, and I am grateful.  He showed me that there was a large tumor on his left side (the same place where the bulge was the evening prior).  It had pushed all of his intestines to the other side of his body!  The doc said that it could be benign, but these kind of tumors had a much higher possibility of being malignant (like 1 in 4).  The options were to have an ultrasound to determine if the tumor had affected the liver (which can't be seen in xray) and then possibly surgery, but the doc said he didn't think the results would be good.  He told me his family had a pet with the very same thing, except their dog showed no signs of pain or anything.  They had discovered the tumor from feeling it.  They decided to wait it out, and in about 30 days the dog collapsed and couldn't function and they put him down.  Grady was in the "going to collapse" phase.  There was no way I could have Kendra going through that---seeing him in horrible pain.  Just the one day had her a basket-case.

I am so grateful to God for his foresight and planning in everything.  So many things happened that were such a comfort.  First, Kendra was with her friend H, whose mom is my friend who teaches with me.  They had planned a sleepover earlier in the week for this night anyway, so she was already with people who loved her.  She told me on Friday morning that she was so glad the sleepover was planned because she really didn't want to go to the vet with me.  When I had to make the decision to put him down, I had to call Kendra.  It was one of the hardest things I've had to do as a mom.  Some might wonder why I didn't just let her have the fun night and tell her later, but I KNEW I had to give her the option of saying goodbye.  I couldn't make that decision for her.  At first she said she wanted to come, but then within a minute she changed her mind.  She thought it would be harder on her if she came (btw, that was my gut instinct, too, but I had to let her decide).  My friend was so amazing with her.  This is my friend whose daughter passed away three years ago---she knows loss and grief, and she knew exactly what to do for Kendra.  I told Kendra I would come get her right away if she wanted, but she actually decided that staying would help distract her.  I was completely good with that decision, too.

I held it together in the office.  I hugged Grady, told him what a good boy he was, said Kendra loved him, and said goodbye.  I paid for the visit at the desk, walked to my car, and lost it.  I called my sister immediately and cried to her on the phone.  Then an amazing thing sister saw a rainbow, right after I told her.

My friend texted me with Kendra's progress through the night and more amazing things happened.  First, she told me that she had told Kendra that Alexa (her daughter who died) was going to be happy to have Grady come.  That made Kendra really happy.  Then later, Crys told me that not very long ago, she had had a dream about Alexa.  In the dream, Alexa kept saying, "Mommy, a puppy!  Mommy, look at the doggie!"  That also comforted Kendra so much (and made me bawl like a baby again, right now as I type).

Last night was so strange---it is going to take some time to get used to not having someone around to pick up the crumbs and to bug you for your scraps, get underfoot, and slobber all over you.  I have no doubt that it will be hard for Kendra when she comes home today.  I also have no doubt that we will not be dog-less long.  My girl has a huge heart for doggies, and we can't leave that space empty.

Grady was sometimes the bane of my existence.  He drove me nuts with the begging and the slobber, but he really was a very good dog.  Here are some things we will want to remember about him.

--He was SO obedient.  If he got in the front yard, we didn't have to worry.  He came back when we called.
--He was really smart.  Sometimes I'd say something to him and he'd respond in the absolutely appropriate manner---and it was not something he should have understood.  Example:  One night I said something along the lines of  "Grady you should go take a look and see what's going on out there" (back yard).  He got up from his bed and walked outside.  None of those words are the norm!
--He understood routine.  He got a treat before bed and laid right down on his bed next to mine every single night since the first day we got him.  He never let me forget the treat!
--He loved us so much.  He followed me around the house always.  He had to be in the room I was in.
--He loved anybody who would pet him.  He thought the whole world wanted to pet him, too.  On walks, he only pull on my arm if there was someone coming--because surely they wanted to pet him!
--He was not very all. On walks he'd start out walking ahead of me and very soon he would be behind!  He was known to just plop down in the middle of the sidewalk and expect to have a nap!
--He was a big fan of comfort.  If there was a blanket, it had his name on it.  He had three dog beds in our small house!
--He was kind.  I never, ever, EVER had to worry about him hurting a small child, or anybody for that matter.  He never jumped (probably because his short legs didn't allow it) and didn't lick (and I hate dogs licking me!)
--He was such a good traveler!  We go to Michigan for a month and we drive there.  Grady just hung out with Kendra in the back seat and you almost didn't know he was there!  He would chill in the hotel rooms and was just so great.  He also loved visiting Michigan.  Of course, my mom spoiled him rotten with food and he came back 10 pounds heavier, but he loved the trip for other things, too!  :-)
--While he looked sad all the time, he was one happy dude.  His tail was ALWAYS wagging.  ALWAYS.  And we often laughed at it, because it wagged in a circular motion--much like a helicopter.  He wagged up until the very end...even though he was probably in significant pain.  It was another reason I almost didn't take him in to the vet.  Loved that waggy tail!

We're going to miss you, buddy!  Have fun with Alexa!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Spring Break Days 5 & 6!

Friday's spruce up project was to take care of our bedrooms.   Kendra's needed more organizing than anything, and mine was done relatively quickly((I am not a hoarder!).  We also took the opportunity to go through spring/summer clothes for Kendra and packed up the winter wear. We determined a few needs for her spring wardrobe and did a little shopping after our cleaning session as our "fun" thing to do.

She went in...

..and this is what came out.  Sheesh. 
Friday night we had two unexpected events.  The first was a thunderstorm that woke us up.  Not a big deal except Kendra is terribly afraid of storms and even more so when they are a surprise.  I had no idea they were in the forecast. But I love a good nighttime storm, so it was pleasant for me!

The second surprise was significantly less pleasant.  Earlier in the day I had noticed that the very large mirror on top of my dresser seemed off-kilter.  Sure enough, it had slid down some from where it should be in the frame.  I didn't know if I could handle trying to fix it on my own (seemed like a two-adult job), so I just left it.   And at 4:45 a.m., the mirror decided it was done with its precarious position, so it just crashed out of the frame onto the floor behind the dresser.  Talk about jump starting your heart!!!
The now empty mirror frame.  Sigh. I'm thinking that replacing it is going to be mighty costly.  I might just bring down the frame and buy a different large framed mirror to hang on the wall instead--I think it will be cheaper!

Parts of the shattered mirror.  Going to be a fun time to move that herkin' dresser to get it all.  Trash can is over-full from our spruce ups this week so I'm waiting to clean it up.
 I also received a phone call on Friday that was a bit surprising.  I am being released from my calling as the primary chorister.  I wasn't overly surprised since I've had the calling for three years and my primary president has been feeling for a while that it might be time for me to be released.  What was a bit surprising is that I was told I was being released, but I wasn't called in for a meeting to get a new calling.  I've never had that happen before---I have always gotten back-to-back callings.  I'm not will be nice to have a bit of a break before getting new responsibilities!

Saturday we had NO spruce up work on the calendar...yay!  Just had to do the regular laundry/grocery shopping Saturday routine.  Our fun thing was something I purchased through Groupon waaaaayyy back at Christmas time.  It was for a family painting session at this neat place called Creative Canvas.  They basically provide the canvas, paint, and expertise and teach you how to paint a picture! I would say that Kendra did about 75% of the picture.  She did the ground work for all of it, and I helped a lot with the detail stuff more.  We had a really great time working together to make our masterpiece!

It was St. Patty's day, so hence the matching green shirts!

Voila!  Our finished piece.  Pretty neat!
Tomorrow is officially our last day of break, and we're going to be treating it like any other Sunday---church and getting ready for the week at school.  Sigh.  Neither of us want to go back to school, but summer is coming and we can DO IT!  We had such a fantastic week together this week!  Bye bye, spring break!  We'll miss you!

Spring Break Day 4--kitchen by day and knights by night!!

The spruce-up calendar said that day four was "kitchen" day!  We scrubbed, scrubbed, and scrubbed...and now everything is sparkly!  
Yep.  That's my bo-hiney sticking out from behind the fridge as I vacuumed up ginormous dust bunnies.
 As I cleaned behind the fridge I found a Milk Bone dog biscuit.  I wonder how long that has taunted the hound??  HA!
Kendra with her baseboard bucket--she did pretty much every baseboard in the house.  As it should be...she's much lower to the ground than I!
Then to the fun part of the day!  We've wanted to try Medieval Times for a while, so we did!  It is a dinner-and-a-show place,  with the dinner being utensil-less and the show being a jousting tournament!  Oh my, we had a BLAST!!!

We were seated in the "yellow" section, and bought a yellow flag to cheer on our knight.

The grand entrance of the king.

Our yellow knight, the Knight of Navarre.  I'm gonna say he was pretty much my kind of eye-candy.  Yep.
This picture is hilarious because it captured Kendra's concern.  She was so worried that someone or someHORSE was going to get hurt!  Such my tender-hearted girl.  I kept telling her it was a SHOW, you know, like with actors.  She wasn't buying it.
Look ma!  Only hands!  No utensils allowed! 
Cheering on our yellow knight... victory!  He won his first round, but then alas, lost in the championship round. 
 The food was really delicious!  Each of us got a divine piece of sort-of flat bread, a half of a rotisserie chicken, a barbecue spare rib, some yummy seasoned potato wedges and an apple pastry for dessert.  The show was very exciting---lots of staged stunts, riding of horses, sword fighting and use of other medieval torturous weapons, a cool story line about a stranger from another land coming to steal the fair princess' hand, even a falconer who released the falcon to fly over the crowd (so cool!).  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and Kendra was very relieved that nobody got hurt!  :-)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring Break--Day 3! A play, service, and tacos!!

I was a slacker in the pictures department today!  We'll just have to remember it in words...

Our spring break spruce up project today was the bathrooms.  We got up and started with the routine cleaning part, then did baseboards and walls.  Like most women, I use hair spray and there has been a significant build up of such on my tile floor.  I've tried many things to get it to come up, but no luck.  I found this tip on Pinterest and YES!  It worked!  Shampoo and water in a spray bottle---that's it!  Makes total sense--shampoo gets the hairspray out of my hair, so it stands to reason it will help get it out of anything else!  My tiles look fantastic!

Next, we met our Ballards at a local theater for a youth production of Aladdin.  I usually really enjoy the kids performances but this one was sort of "eh".  But we did get some time with our friends, which was nice.

After the show, we headed over to help out our friends, the Rodgers.   Much to our dismay, they are moving away from us!  Randy got a really great job opportunity about four hours south of here, so they are in big-time "getting the house ready to sell" mode.  I helped Missie with her kitchen---fourteen years in the house means we unearthed several "treasures" that are now in the garage sale pile!  We spent the better part of the afternoon helping out over there, then we were invited to Taco Night at Missie's parents house.  Missie's twin sister, Mindy, and her family were in town and her brother Josh and his wife came by, too.  They are such a fun, fun family!  I spent most of the evening rolling on the floor laughing!  And the tacos??  Oh my heavens.  Best I've EVER had.  Pops (Missie's dad) makes the crunchy shells himself, and Honey (Missie's mom) makes the most divine meat mixture.  I wasn't really very hungry but I ate three!!!  Addictive!!!  I'm really going to miss that whole family!  Boo!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spring Break Day 2!

Today's spring break spruce-up room was the living room.  We dusted, moved everything to vacuum, washed the furniture, cleaned the ceiling fan blades, cleaned baseboards and windowsills, and washed down the walls.  Yay for one room down!
Then it was time for the Fort Worth Zoo!  We planned the trip for today knowing that tomorrow is half-price day and I thought it would be less busy.  WRONG!  There were three million people there!  We parked more than a half mile from the entrance!  But gratefully, the people were pleasant and nobody annoyed me overly much!  :-)  It was a gorgeous day again, with enough cloud cover to keep us cool and comfy!

Sea Otter swimming by while Kendra sat in the "bubble".  Cool!

The "touch tank".  Kendra loved the starfish.

At the petting area there was the opportunity to pet a sleeping armadillo!  Kendra said he was soft.

I battled the bees for this Kona shaved was worth it!
With the beautiful weather I was expecting that the animals would be lively and active, but we arrived just in time for nap time!  All the big animals were snoozing away---funny enough, almost all of them were laying on their backs, too!  We did see two funny things---a trio of lemurs who were clearly putting on a show (they kept looking to see if the crowd was watching) and as we were leaving a ginormous orangutan turned his back to the crowd and yep, you guessed it.  Bent right over and gave everyone a very large view of a full moon!  Bwaaahhh!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring Break 2012 Day 1

Well, it isn't really day one if you count the weekend.  But we were pretty much slugs on Saturday and Sunday, and Monday is the first "day you should be at school but you aren't" day.  So we'll just roll with the day one thing, k?

Yesterday, when still in slug-form, Kendra and I plotted out our calendar with a balanced dose of work and fun sprinkled into each day off.  Today's weather was beyond compare, so it was destined to be the day we took care of yard work.  We started with weeding the beds, took a quick trip to the HD for a few annuals, planted them and Voila!  Pretty flower beds!
We went with marigolds--but these are a different variety.  The petals are much more delicate--they aren't the little pom pom look I remember from my youth.  Kendra really wanted yellow and orange this year, so there we go!
 I also mowed the weeds lawn and sprayed stuff to try to kill the massive weed infestation.  Warm winter = crazy weeds overtaking everything!!!

We cleaned up and headed out for the one doc appointment we have this week--I am having a laser treatment done for  (ewwww..) toenail fungus.  I've had it for a while on both big toes and it has caused me a lot of pain and problems.  It is not an insured procedure, so I made the decision a while ago to use some of my tax return to get it treated.  This treatment, added to the two minor "surgeries" related to the fungus, equals costs totaling about $1,000.  Thank you very much, $30 pedicure.  (I'm CERTAIN this is where I obtained the issue---you'll never catch my feet in a pedi salon again!)
There will be three treatments total.  Doesn't hurt--just a little tingly feeling occasionally.
The podiatrists office is in a rather upscale part of town with a fun outdoor shopping center.  We spent the afternoon walking around, enjoying the amazing weather, and mostly-window shopping.

 Kendra made one purchase at Justice, and I got a super deal at an accessories place called Charming Charlie.  They had some of those really BIG rings in their "Curtain Call" section--buy one get two free!  Walked out with two fun rings and a cute necklace for Kendra for $5 total!  Deal! 

We ended the day eating an obnoxiously large piece of cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory.  What a great day! 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Rough winter...

This winter has been rough.  No, not with weather.  It's been so, so mild.  Very rare cold days.  No snow, which sounds normal for Texas but we've been here five winters and this is the first one without any of the white stuff.

It's been a hard winter for us health-wise.  I think it might be due to that warmer winter, actually.  You see, there's a saying.  If you don't have allergies when you move to Texas, just wait.  And stuff grows in a warm winter--allergy inducing stuff.  Apparently, we've acquired the allergies we were promised.  It's been a learning curve, and it has caused several sinus infections in both Kendra and me.  That, and a few random viruses as well.  This is what our counter has looked like for the last month or so....

I feel I should own stock in Walgreens by now.  Kendra and I are both on a regimen of Claritin once daily as well as nose sprays (not pictured...just add that to the bill!).  And we're actually the lucky ones!  I know many families who are dealing with repeated bouts of strep, several with pneumonia, and there have been tons of cases of RSV!  Crazy!

Spring break is next week.  I told my students today that while I really love them, it is time for a break from one another.  We all need to stop spreading the gunk around!  Die, little bugs, DIE!