Thursday, July 29, 2010

Potty Training! She's doing it!

Wow, nobody warned me what a horrific pain in the butt it is to try and potty train your kid.

I mean sure, I don't expect her to "get it" the first or third day...

But today has been a long one and despite the messiness of it all (I'll just spare the world the details) Nora did go potty intentionally for the first time today -- actually she did it twice.

She wears underwear ALL day and pull-ups at night. We don't go far from the house, and she seems willing and able.

So here goes!

Last night I snapped this pic of her in her new underwear and her cousin Hannah's Shrek slippers she passed back to us (I gave them to her for Christmas one year ages ago). I also got her some boy's underwear because they're WAY more comfy than some of the girls lacy stuff, and much cuter!

Sunday, July 25, 2010


We spent part or most of last week up in the Seattle area...First visiting my sister and her boys for an overnight trip, then heading on up to Oma and Opa's house for a few nights, and stopping by Peter & Sarah's on the way back! It was, as Miriam put it "The full tour!"

Coming and going from Oma and Opa's, we stopped in Seattle -- First to Deluxe Junk in Fremont and another vintage store or two, then on the way back we hit Thai Heaven for lunch and got into Seattle's Pacific Science Center with our OMSI membership card.

One day the pool at Oma and Opa's got warm enough for us ALL to swim...It's amazing that it's late July and the weather is JUST sketchy enough that you have to check the solar panels and see just how warm the water is before getting in!

The last day was the best, as we'd worked hard in the yard, and it warmed up enough that it was just FUN to jump in and practice diving. I haven't had time to swim like that in AGES.

Nora enjoyed the pool too -- my niece Miriam took her in a few times and then Nora figured out it was a lot more fun to stand by the side of the pool and huck stuff in and tell us to go get it off the bottom, AND of course, she discovered the real fun: Hottubbing with Oma!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Pictures Says Approximately 383 Words

I was looking for a new picture of just me for my Facebook page, and ran across this one.

This particular picture always make me think that I look like Hope from that show "Thirtysomething" that was such a hit back in the '80s before being "Fortysomething" was the new "Twenty". She had dark hair and kept it in a pony tail a lot like I do anyway. Our faces aren't dissimilar. I never can come out and say "I think I look like ____ " because of course we are all unique and I certainly don't bear any serious resemblance to anyone famous.

But anyway, back to the story of this picture.

It was taken in 2003, on our trip to Europe that started in London and ended in Istanbul.

It wasn't really a vacation, we say. More like an expedition. But it was a fun one.

This particular moment, in this particular picture as we're leaving London to take the EuroStar to Paris, Brian goes to take the picture, and it has just occurred to me that I don't feel well, and I have something respiratory going on. My gut just sank as I realized that what I had wasn't feeling well or good. Not good at all.

I lived. But we cut back our vacation in Paris and I laid in bed a lot...we bought a "hop on hop off" bus ticket, which we never would have bought, and just never hopped off. We just rode around the city so we could get the quick and dirty tour. We walked through Versailles one day, but didn't go into the gardens beyond the first viewpoint.

The bad news was, that first trip to Paris didn't involve a lot of sights we were dying to see.

The good news was, it gave me a reason to go back, which we did a few years later.

I saw a French MD, who (for the price of about $80 Euro/less than $100 USD) came TO the hotel, checked me out, wrote me a script for antibiotics, which I bought for $20 at the pharmacy.

I noted that Europe is sorely lacking in good quality, knock-your-ass-out and get some sleep over-the-counter cold medicine. A note that was not forgotten when I went back the next time.

Have NyQuil, will travel.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

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Nora's Ice Cream

A Few Projects...

The big hairy project that's been waiting for me since we moved in, besides, of course, the painting the house.

Our house is a 1945 masterpiece of poor planning, even worse workmanship, and a very cheap previous owner.

The list of Honey Dos (that's me mostly, since I'm home) is long. It's arduous. It is, in a word...Unending.

So this week, when the heat index finally took us over 80 degrees in the day time and not below 50 at night, I decided to get busy with painting the outside.

At some point this spring, Brian went over most of the trim -- especially that along the roofline -- so that part doesn't need more than a once-over after I've painted. But the house has cedar shakes/shingles, so spraying won't do...and a bunch of work needed to be done to make sure all the shingles are nailed down tight, some caulking needs to be done, and of course paint paint and more paint.

So far I've done about half of the front of the house, most of the North side and most of the West side as of today. Today was a job of removing a lot of old/dead hardware -- various stuff that held something up at some point, but needs to be removed and plugged and painted.

Slowly, but surely, I WILL get rid of the tacky brass house numbers, the tacky brass light fixtures, the tacky brass all over this #*%&## house.

It is amazing to me how a list of "paint the house" turns into "plug this hole" and "put trim back up next to the air conditioner (then paint it) and a mess of other to dos.

But we're getting there. By the time we sell this place it's going to look like the house I thought I saw when we bought it three years ago.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lucy Dog, You've Been Great.

All I have are pictures of the beginning and the end.

It's been a long day today, one where I had to take my dog in and put her down.

Lucy, our little black lab of almost 12 years, died today. We chose to put her down after she bit Nora on the hand yesterday.

Lucy's been really showing her age the past year or so. She was losing her hearing (you could really tell this July 4 without NEARLY the level of freak-outs as in previous years with fireworks). The big thing to me (besides the biting) was how she just laid around, and barely got excited over anything, even a walk. She would limp and struggle to get up. And then yesterday was the last straw.

Nora and I went out after dinner to get a few groceries. It was late in the day for a grocery trip but I'd been painting the house all day and we were out of the fundamental stuff Nora likes, namely bananas and juice.

We got home, and Nora said "LUCY!" like she does, and Lucy greeted us at the steps as she does usually. Nora went up to Lucy to give her a hug (I've been supervising this closer lately as Lucy's been growling more at Nora for it), and I said "NO" to Lucy as she growled again and I could see Nora was backing off, but then Lucy whipped around and got Nora on the hand.

It wasn't a big old fat puncture, but she broke skin that bled a bit on one side with about 5 marks, and another bigger one on the other side of her thumb.

I got Nora in the house, and told her to stay there, while I got the rest of the groceries. There really wasn't anything I could do to Lucy to get through to her. She knows growling is wrong, and today wasn't the day that I could teach her not to bite. It's just one of those things (for me and a lot of other people) that at her age, I just couldn't let "pass" for another time to be even worse.

I talked to Brian last night. We talked about it for some time. But in the end, we knew we couldn't keep her, not being able to leave Nora for a second anywhere near Lucy. And pawning her off on a family with or without kids didn't sit right with us either. It's a tough choice, but one that had to be made.

So today I called the clinic where a friend takes her pets, and made arrangements to bring Lucy in. We spent part of the afternoon with her, and I tried to play with her. Truth be told, Lucy didn't have it in her. It dawned on me just how old my dog had gotten by how disinterested she was in playing with us.

I took her in this afternoon and they very lovingly helped sedate Lucy a bit so she wouldn't panic over the other shot, and wouldn't get upset by me being upset. She rested on a blanket awake while I held her and talked with her about all the places we'd been, and all the miles of lake front we had walked around over all the many years.

I cried.

A lot.

The doctor and the assistant came in and gave her the final shot. We waited for her heart to stop. I gave her a lot of hugs and held her to the end.

I stayed with her for a while after they left. I talked with her a little more, and said how sorry I was. I hope there's a doggy heaven for her.

We got Lucy in Yakima when I was working there in 1998-2000. We got her after our house was broken into and we talked the landlady into letting us have Lucy.

We got her at the Humane Society. She was found behind a KMart with her siblings, dumped off by someone who couldn't handle puppies apparently. I picked her because she was the only dog in the whole facility who wasn't barking her head off.

That, and she put her paw up on the cage as if to say "Hey, pick me!"

We named her Lucy after Lucy from the Narnia tales. We would have saved it for a human, but at the time we didn't even know we wanted kids, so we gave it to a good dog.

Brian was the one who trained her, and trained me how to train her. She was great at "heeling" -- walking along side you rather than pulling you along. She was hard to train about a few things, like staying off the couch, mostly because she was smart enough to know she could do it while you weren't there, and snooze away once the lights were out in the house.

We took Lucy on a lot of trips -- She gleefully hiked through mountain trail after mountain trail. She, like most dogs, would hang her head out the window and bask in being a dog on a ride.

She walked around lake after lake with me, through dark rainy nights as my protector, through snowy mornings and all five pregnancies.

She was truly a good friend to us all.

These past few years, since we moved here, she endeared herself to so many postal employees, that the gal who stopped by the other day said Lucy's well known as "the sweet dog on the route". One postal guy would routinely bring Lucy his second of a "buy one get one" Big Mac from McDonalds when it was his turn to do this route.

There are things I won't miss: like the grass burns and picking up dog poo. But really that's a small sacrifice for having a friend like Lucy.

She never met a lake, river, stick, or chew toy she didn't like. But what I'll miss most is that wiggly dog who got excited at the leash, the word "river" or "treat", the friendship and companionship that she provided me when I would have otherwise been alone.

But one of my favorites was the laughs and sheer panic she caused me when she flushed out an elk out of the woods at Mount St. Helens while I had wandered off to go pee in the woods. Her pride at having "caught" an elk that turned and reared up ready to kill my little puppy, but she got out of the way just in time.

I remember when I first got her, how I took her to the Yakima Greenway and set her loose for a run. She'd never been able to run freely before, and she gleefully ran and practically hopped with that ham tongue wagging.

That's the vision I have in my head of her tonight. Freely running about gleefully living life as simple as a black lab in summer.

There's a million other stories I could tell. Lucy, (or Lucifer when she was bad) will be sorely missed. It doesn't matter if it was "time", and that decision isn't taken lightly by us. We lost a dear pet today, and for that we are very sad.

Lucy, you were my good girl. Thanks for choosing us.

We'll miss you old lady.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Four Years.

Wow, it's been four years since our son Jacob was born and lost.

I can't tell you how much I still miss him. Given his diagnosis, we knew he wouldn't make it, so I don't generally look at four-year-old boys and think "Wow, that could have been..."

Instead, I just get sad as this day approaches, knowing full well that only a very few people will remember this day without a reminder. I get a lump in my throat even as I type this, as I think of how far we thought we had come in those days in June 2006, and how far we crashed when we got his diagnosis of Trisomy 18.

Like any traumatic experience I suspect, it's easy to "go back" and relive those feelings and that bittersweet day as we held our son, and said goodbye to him and handed him over to the nurses to send his little body to the funeral home.

I've dreamt of Jacob a few times in recent days and weeks. I still see him as an adult, perfect and tall, curly hair and looking like something between his daddy and my youngest brother. He assures me he's fine.

I know that those dreams are likely just my brain trying to tell me it's ok and to comfort a grieving mother's soul. But it doesn't change what I lost, and tears still stream down my cheeks when I think about him for too long or hear a song that reminds me of those days.

And yet, there is progress. I can't help but revel in motherhood to my living child, and enjoy her as much as humanly possible. Time does heal wounds, and I must let it, even when I feel that letting myself heal will dull me to the pain that put me so close to our son and the time I had with him before he was born -- and after.

No, life is about moving forward. I can look back wistfully and remember bittersweet times because it is part of what formed me into who I am today. My experiences in all the medical issues surrounding our infertility and loss is what's going to make me a good nurse, and help me help others with kindness and compassion.

But I try not to look back for too long on any given day, because forward is where my future is.

We miss you, our darling son Jacob. You changed our lives forever and still love you with all our hearts.

-- Your Mama

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Cute Picture of The Day

We went camping yesterday -- had a little car issue at the top of a long hill, but none of it was brake related, so that's good.

Camping out in the National Forest with two parties (we were in the middle and couldn't really hear either unless they started cheering as one group played volleyball) or talking really loud (the Russians).

We went to Elk Lake above Detroit Dam in Oregon, and Miss Nora spent her first night in a tent. It couldn't have gone better, and this morning I woke up to her smile right next to me, and she put both hands on my cheeks and said "Good morning, Mommy."


This is one after we got Daddy up. I love Daddy & Nora pictures more than anything in the world.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Why I Want To Be A Nurse (Thanks Kristen)

I think a lot of people wonder what kind of nurse I'll make. Or maybe they already know, or worse, THINK they know.

But for me, it's fairly simple. Like any career where you deal with people during tragedy (as I did as a journalist), you see the best and worst of people, you try to help as best you can. Sometimes you have to step back and just provide the information and hope people use it wisely.

My decision to become a nurse blends both my wish to be of help to others, to use the knowledge I gained as a result of many years of medical experience while we tried to have a baby; and the wish to learn something new that will allow me to use my brain, my skills (some yet to be learned!) and to make a difference in the lives of others. As I read this I see that it's always been my condition to be in each of these situations -- so really it's just a matter of the venue in which I will experience these that will change.

Being a NURSE Means...

You will never be bored
You will always be frustated
You will be surrounded by challenges
So much to do and so little time
You will carry immense responsibility
And very little authority
You will step into people's lives
And you will make a difference
Some will bless you
Some will curse you
You will see people at their worst --
And at their best
You will never cease to be amazed
At people's capacity for
Love, courage and endurance
You will see life begin -- and end
You will experience resounding triumphs
And devastating failures
You will cry a lot
You will laugh a lot
You will know what it is to be human
And to be humane

~Melodie Chenevert RN


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