Friday, January 22, 2010

They Keep Me Young

At this point in my life, I'm content with my "children" consisting of 3 dogs.  Actually, a more accurate statement might be that I can only handle 3 dogs, and throwing a human child in the mix would not be conducive for my sanity!  For as much as my doggles (yes, doggles) drive me crazy with their muddy paws and 3am bathroom breaks, they truly are a few of my most favorite things in life.  They can always manage to bring a smile to my face even on my worst day.  Consider this blog post my tribute to my kids!  :)






My oldest:  Riley

Around the time Jer was graduating from Tech and moving back to Amarillo, I decided I needed a pet to keep me company during my final year in graduate school.  Jer and I visited a pet store in Lubbock, and saw what we thought was one of the cutest puppies we had ever seen.  The label on his cage said "Corgi/Beagle mix" and his oversized head on a little body just stole our hearts.  Little did we know he would grow up to have a little head on an oversized body!



Over the years, Riley and I have formed a special bond.  He truly is a mama's boy and will be loyal to me until the day he dies.  When we arrived home one night last year to find our back gate wide open, I was paralyzed with fear.  That is, until Riley came running towards me with this look on his face as if to say, "Look Mom!  The back gate was wide open for me to escape, but I stayed here and waited for you!"  That's my boy!  As for the other two dogs, well, they tasted freedom and went out on a midnight escapade (later to be found safe!).  Riley has indeed provided us with some comical moments.  He's a very curious dog, and sometimes that gets him into trouble.  One time, Jer had hung his short sleeve button-up shirt on the corner post of the footboard of our bed.  Riley decided he needed to investigate and began to sniff the shirt.  He kept advancing and kept sniffing, and quickly found himself with his head stuck all the way through the short sleeve, peering out the other end.  He was trapped and tried to walk away, but since the shirt was hooked on the bed, he could only travel in a semi-circle.  It's one of the funniest things I've ever seen.  Typically, Riley tries to rule the house and guards anything new that comes in it (from the other dogs).  Even if he has no clue what something is, if it's new, he wants it and doesn't want anyone else to get near it.  We say he has the Napoleon Complex since he's got such short legs, but purports to be a large, authoritative dog.  I know he's really a sweetheart, though.  As much as Cesar Milan wouldn't like it, I love when Riley "claims" me by sitting on my lap when others are around.  I joke that if I ever go missing, just put Riley on the case and he will find me.

 



The Middle Child: Casey

I grew up with Keeshonds in my household.  If you don't know what a Keeshond is, think of an oversized Pomeranian, probably black or silver in color.  I always loved the ones my family had for their sweet temperament, their personality, their affection, and their rarity.  In college I talked often to Jer about how I wished to have one someday, if only I could find one.  I had never seen one in a pet store, or local shelter, or classified ad.  I searched the internet and usually came up empty-handed, unless I wanted to drive to another state.  I had pretty much given up hope of having one, until a special day in June, 2005.  That day, the 24th, I was lured to a park in Lubbock by Jeremiah, under the guise that I'd be watching him play in a frisbee football game.  When I arrived and saw only his car in the parking lot, I was confused.  He blindfolded me and led me to a clearing in the woods.  As I took off my blindfold, and saw a picnic laid out and waiting, he placed an adorable Keeshond puppy in my arms!  Through my excitement and teary eyes, I almost didn't notice he was crouching on one knee with an engagement ring in his hand too!  That was a very special day in my life, and it's nice that Casey was a part of it.

                         


Casey never ceases to make us laugh, mostly because we usually have no clue what she's doing or thinking (and neither does she).  We wouldn't call her the sharpest tool in the shed, but she steals your heart nonetheless.  She's the young kid who doesn't understand the teacher, but looks to the other kids to see what she's supposed to do.  I'm pretty sure she doesn't understand the command "Sit" unless one of the other dogs is around to display it to her.  She does, however, know how to walk/hop on just her back two legs for a fair distance.  It's pretty cute and resembles a bear in a tutu at the circus (if that makes any sense).  Casey's claim to fame is that she doesn't particularly care to hang out with me and Jer unless there happen to be other people around that she needs to impress.  Then it's all lovey-dovey and check out how cute I am, strangers!  What a stinker!




The Perpetual Puppy: Juneau
   
After a year of living with Riley and Casey, Jer began making comments about how he wished he had a "sporting" dog.  He envisioned taking his dog to the park, playing catch, fetching frisbees, etc, and our doggles weren't cut out for that.  I didn't figure we could handle three dogs, until a trip to the mall one day had me thinking otherwise.  The local animal shelter was hosting an adoption and a beautiful, tall, slim "sporting" dog was available.  Her tan markings were intriguing, and her name was "Juno."  She was incredibly gentle-natured and needed a good home.  Having returned from our honeymoon in Alaska just a month or two prior, I thought the puppy's name was a cute coincidence (albeit spelled differently).  I went home and told Jer all about her and begged him to go back up to the mall with me to meet her.  He did, and we walked out of the mall with our new bundle of joy.  We changed the spelling of her name to "Juneau" and couldn't wait to bring her home to meet the other dogs.  Boy, were we in for a wild ride....




Calm, sweet Juneau did not take too well to Riley and Casey.  There was lots of growling, lots of teeth, and lots of raised hair....and this was all coming from Juneau.  Where did our sweet little puppy go??  We thought we'd have to drive her right back to the shelter, until some fresh air and free space to run settled her down.  Before long the doggles made peace, and Juneau became an official member of our family.  She definitely has the most energy of all our dogs, yet somehow didn't get the sporting gene poor Jer was hoping for.  If you throw her a tennis ball, she'll let it hit her in the face.  She only fetches things when Riley runs to it first, and then she just wants to fight him for it.  There's no hope of her picking up the item and returning it to us.  It's just not going to happen.  But, Juneau's greatest quality is her ability to snuggle.  She doesn't know that she's a large dog, and thinks she can fit into the smallest places.  If you're laying on the couch, she'll walk over, place her head on the cushion and look up at you until you make room for her.  Once you do, she'll cuddle up in a tiny ball next to you, or just practically lay on top of you.  She's the best dog to have around for sick days.  Another of her famous traits is her Scooby-Doo-esque noises.  Sometimes when we come home after a few hours, she gets so excited when we're at the front door and about to open it, that she lets out these hilarious sounds.  We can hear them outside and they always crack us up.  It's like her excitement and anticipation is bubbling over so much and she just can't control it.  It's sort of similar to this, but really you have to hear it in person to know exactly what I'm talking about!


Some people may think it's silly to love one's pets this much, but I'm not ashamed!  These three doggles hold a special place in my heart, my home, my memories, and my daily life.  When I go on vacation, I miss them.  When I'm away from home for a few hours, I worry about them.  They're a wonderful addition to my life and I wouldn't trade them for the world!  





Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Big Day: Bone Marrow Donation

So the big day finally arrived!  At 6am on Friday I arrived at the hospital for check-in.  I met the anesthesiologist and got changed into my fashionable hospital garb.  The doctor arrived at 7:30am, and we started the procedure.  It took about an hour, and then I was moved into recovery.  I had to stay there for about an hour and a half and then I was moved into a private room.  Everything went well with the harvest, and the bone marrow donation representative was on hand to get the marrow to the courier.  Then it was on its way to the 10 year old boy! 

I was told before the procedure that I might have nausea afterwards.  I had been laying in my hospital bed for a few minutes when the nausea hit.  I asked Jer to get a trash can and I started to sit up....and then I passed out.  I came to and they determined that my blood pressure had dropped drastically.  They gave me some medicine to help with the nausea and it completely knocked me out.  I remember slurring my speech for a few minutes and then nothingness.  I think I was asleep for a couple hours.  When I came to, I needed to use the restroom.  I sat up slowly, walked in there, and sat down....and passed out again.  This time was a little more painful.  I fell straight forward and hit my head on the bottom of the IV stand.  My knee had also hit the tile floor kinda hard.  Jer rushed in there and called the nurses for help.  They carried me back to the bed and basically told me I wasn't allowed to move from there again.

I had to spend the next few hours just taking it easy and having my blood pressure monitored often.  They would compare it while I was laying down, sitting up, and standing.  The first time we tried it, I couldn't finish the test while standing.  I had to sit back down again.  The results weren't good at all, either.  Laying down = 102/58. Sitting up = 89/53. standing up = 54/40.  They told me again that I wasn't allowed to stand up because the fainting risk was imminent.  It was then that they also told me I wouldn't be allowed to leave the hospital that day.  Much to my disappointment, I had to stay overnight.  

Saturday morning I awoke feeling much better, however.  I felt more alert and hopeful.  We did the laying, sitting, standing test again with much better results.  I ate breakfast and talked to the nurse about getting discharged.  She removed the monster bandage covering my lower back and replaced it with small bandages.  The wounds looked good.  She called the doctor and got the go-ahead to release me.  It was wonderful news!  Jer drove me home around noon on Saturday and I've been taking it easy ever since.

Overall, the experience really wasn't that bad.  There was no pain felt during the procedure since I was completely knocked out.  The pain afterward related to the harvest has been mostly just soreness and stiffness.  It's hard to describe, but it feels like a lot of extra weight is on my hips whenever I stand up.  It's definitely tender at the injection site also.  If I walk slowly and sit down and stand up gently, I can completely handle the pain.  If I hadn't had the trouble with the low blood pressure, this would've been a relatively easy ordeal!  Even with the extra day in the hospital, and the bumps and bruises from my fall, I'm still VERY glad to have done this.  I can definitely manage soreness if it means it gives that 10 year old boy a chance at life.  Not to downplay the experience or make everyone think it's a walk in the park, but the trouble I went through pales in comparison to the benefit it might provide.  Please join the registry if you too would like to potentially save a life.   www.marrow.org   

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Holidays Recap!

Since Kim has been staying with us this year, it was an especially fun holiday season!  My hubby got us an awesome "Girls' Weekend" package for Christmas.  It included picture frames, CDs, giftcards to Rosa's Cafe and ColdStone, and a full spa package.  He really went above and beyond, and Kim and I were very impressed!  We scheduled massages and facials this weekend, and we're pretty excited about it.






On Christmas Day, we traveled to my parents' house to celebrate with my side of the family.  It was wonderful to get us all together for lunch and opening presents.  We also celebrated my mom's birthday, so that was doubly exciting!  My family was so sweet by getting Kim a stocking and buying her presents.  She really has become part of our family over these past 5 months!


  

Later that day we traveled to Grand Prairie to spend time with some of Jer's family.  His aunt and uncle recently moved there from up north, and his grandparents were visiting them from Amarillo.  It was nice to spend time with all of them, since we haven't been able to see them often.  His uncle is an amazing cook, and we did not leave with empty stomachs!

The following week we traveled to Amarillo to celebrate Christmas with the rest of Jer's family and ring in the New Year with old friends.  The tradition in Jer's family is to have a white elephant gift exchange, while wearing festive hats!  We always have fun when we visit, and it makes us miss living there.  Jer's niece and nephew bring us such joy, and we cherish every chance we get to see them.  We plan on making the trek to Amarillo more often in the coming months since my other sister-in-law's bundle of joy will be arriving soon!
 
 

We had a wonderful time on New Year's Eve as well, seeing friends that we don't get to spend much time with.  And did I mention that we were flip cup champions?!?  I love the holidays because of the opportunity to get the entire family together and catch up with friends usually spread across the country.  We are both very fortunate to have such wonderful friends and families!

 


 


Have a wonderful 2010!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Foundation Beyond Belief



I'd like to introduce you to a unique organization, called Foundation Beyond Belief.   Take a few minutes to watch this video:



I'm personally excited about the Foundation because of its mission, "To demonstrate humanism at its best by supporting efforts to improve this world and this life; to challenge humanists to embody the highest principles of humanism, including mutual care and responsibility; and to help and encourage humanist parents to raise confident children with open minds and compassionate hearts."  I'm also thrilled that it will provide me information and avenues for giving to ten different charitable organizations a quarter, while I get to choose the allocation among them.  Humanists and atheists are generous people, but we've lacked the organization of the religious community as it pertains to giving.  Many people drop a percentage of their income into the collection plate each week and have faith that it's making it to a worthy cause.  I like the idea of monthly automatic donations, similar to giving at a church, but I prefer specifically selecting where my money goes from there.  Foundation Beyond Belief will give me this opportunity.

I encourage you not to shy away from charitable opportunities just because you don't see a religious affiliation.  There is good being done in this world without religious sponsorship, just as there is good being done with it.  This Foundation will choose beneficiaries with help from its members.  "Featured beneficiaries may be founded on any worldview so long as they do not proselytize."

More information about Foundation Beyond Belief can be found here.

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." - Winston Churchill