Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Good Dog

This evening, I said a very tearful good-bye to the best dog in the world.  Callie.  She's been a part of my life for 20 years!  You don't get to say that very often about a dog.  She had a good life full of people who loved her very, very much and I'm sure she knew that as my parents, my brother and I were with her as she took her final breaths.  We love you so much Callie and take comfort in knowing you are resting peacefully now!!

I did want to share the blog I wrote about Callie over a year ago. 

Friday, May 4th 2012:
19 years ago I fell in love.  It’s not the typical love story though.  I was 11 and I fell in love with this little black and orangish-brown puppy with white feet, floppy ears, a crooked tail and big eyes.   She looked like a mix between a dachshund, beagle, and pit bull.  She had a long body, was close to the ground and had short little stubby legs.  She was a little disproportioned it seemed.  Many thought she was rather ugly but not me.  I thought she was beyond adorable and I wanted to keep her forever. 

It was summer and I had been spending most of my time at the local county fair.  I usually did spend a great deal of time at the county fair when it was going on because my Dad was the County Extension Agent and he practically ran the thing.  I was showing my bunnies in the 4-H competitions and kept busy with other activities while I was there.  The carnival had been at the fair but had since packed up and left.  This little puppy had probably come to town with them but had been left behind. 

The little thing followed me as I walked home from the fair one day and I’m sure I didn’t put up too big of a fight to keep her from doing so.  She was obviously a bit malnourished as she was quite skinny and very hungry.  I gave her some food and she was instantly my best friend.  I introduced her to my Mother who was not thrilled.  She did not want a dog, especially an indoor dog.  I was told “NO” I could not keep her.  My parents said I could take care of her only until I found her a new home. Well, I did reluctantly try to do this but no one would agree to adopt her.  After a few days with her, there was no way my parents could refuse to let me keep her.  I was head over heels.  And that’s how Callie (because she resembled a Calico cat) joined our family. 

In my opinion, Callie has been the best dog ever.  She is small-ish in size but thinks she is big.  And she has a BIG personality to go along with it – especially when she was younger.  When we were kids, my brother would put on his rollerblades or jump on his skateboard and hold on to Callie’s leash and she would pull him around the neighborhood.  She loved adventures and would go on walks, runs, and try to catch birds or bunnies that came into our yard.  She was loyal and protected my brother and I no matter what - even if that meant going against a 100-pound dog that would come towards us when we were walking in the neighborhood.  She was a terrific snuggler and would always want to sleep in our beds.  She could do a few tricks like sit, roll over, and play dead but she was way too smart to agree to anything like “stay”. 

Callie is practically fearless in every way except when it comes to water.  She does not like swimming or getting wet which is a bit unfortunate because my parents live on a lake.   When my brother or I would get in the water, Callie would just stand on the dock and bark.  BARK, BARK, BARK.  She was scared for us – it’s like she thought we were going to drown and she was alerting everyone within hearing distance of our dangerous situation.   You’d think she would’ve gotten used to this since my parents have lived at the lake for years, but no.

With as afraid as she is of the water, you would never imagine that she would love boat rides as much as she does but they are one of her favorites.  When my Dad or brother starts the boat, Callie will take a running leap off the dock and fly through the air into the boat.  Occasionally, she misses and lands in the water which is funny for the rest of us but definitely not for her. 

It’s amazing how Callie will know when it is time to go for a walk.  Someone in our family can just casually mention it to someone else in my family and Callie understands.  Up until recently, she would start spinning in circles so fast and getting so excited that you would think she was going to have a heart attack.  It was hard to even get her leash on because she would go a million miles an hour.  At some point along the line, Callie discovered that if she wanted to go on a walk (even if we hadn’t discussed it or planned on it) she would just start getting excited and turning in circles.  Sure enough, most of the time it worked and she got to go on her walk.  She sure had us trained. 

When I moved out of the house after high school, Callie stayed at my parent’s house.  I would still go over to visit regularly because I was living and going to college in the same town.  We would go on walks, go to the park, or go on car rides with the window down so her tongue could fly in the wind and get slobber all over my car.  And it was completely worth it to see how happy all of this made her. 

When I got married and graduated college, Paul and I moved away to another state.  I was completely and utterly devastated to leave Callie so far away.  I was incredibly homesick and yes I did miss my family and friends but I also missed Callie – terribly.  I felt like I had abandoned her and I had an enormous amount of guilt and sadness.   I knew she was being well taken care of but it was just not the same.

A few years later, Paul and I moved back home.  It was great to be back home with my family and Callie.  But soon I was having kids of my own and my life got crazy.  I didn’t get to visit Callie as often and before I knew it she had gotten pretty old.  She has had several tumors removed, has had a stroke, her vision and hearing have gotten really poor and she isn’t able to control her bodily functions too well.  But even with all of this, Callie still remembers me and loves me like she did when I was 11 and she was a puppy.

19 years later Callie is still the best dog in the world.  When I pet her head and rub her ears, she still gives me that doggy-smile and more wet kisses than I can handle.  She still loves going on walks even if she can’t make it very far.  She’s still incredibly sweet and loves to cuddle.  I realize her days are numbered but I’m thankful that I’ve had such a faithful companion for so long. 

I recently took a picture of Alexa with Callie and it reminded me so much of a picture of Callie and my brother John when he was young. How often do your children get to grow up with the same pet as you did?  I consider myself pretty lucky and I will forever be a “dog person” because of Callie.  I love her to pieces, her bent tail and all. 

Alexa and Callie 2012

John and Callie 1993

Monday, July 29, 2013

My Crazy Monday

This is what Monday has looked like for me today: 

Get up and let the night nurse go at 7:00a

Go back to sleep for a little over an hour

Wake up to the smell of poo

Breathe a sigh of relief when I realize Parker is just REALLY gassy

Sit on the couch with Alexa for a bit and watch cartoons and check Facebook.

Pat myself on the back for getting Parker up early enough to get his tube feeding started in time.

Get Alexa's breakfast ready.

Suction Parker several times throughout the morning.

Pour myself a bowl of cereal and drink a glass of juice.

Get distracted with a phone call from the Dr's office when I'm 1/2 done with my cereal.  Cereal gets soggy.

Decide to take a super fast shower while Parker is getting his food and watching cartoons.

Get out of shower to the smell of poo.

Realize Parker is covered in poo.  

Stop his tube feeding and attempt to change his dirty diaper.

Elicit Alexa's help in holding Parker's hands (after I cleaned them off) so he wont' "grab" while I'm cleaning him up.

Parker bathes himself, me, and the carpet in pee while I'm cleaning him up.

Change Parker's clothes, my clothes, and clean the carpet.  

Do Parker's AM trach and g-button cares.  Give Parker his meds.

Restart Parker's tube feeding.

Clean out Parker's dirty clothes and start a load in the washer.

Talk to my Mom on the phone while getting dressed.

Send e-mails/talk to/leave messages for the Pulmonologist's office, the HHC company, Alexa's daycare and the pediatrician.  

Ask Paul to pick up some of Parker's medical records that we'll need for the trip to MAYO Clinic when he's on his lunch break.

Quickly do Alexa's hair and throw mine back because we are really late.

Leave the house and pick up my Dad so we can deliver Meals on Wheels. 

Pull the car over to suction Parker.

Run into all sorts of construction on the way to pick up the Meals to be delivered.

Get really wet when delivering meals on wheels because I forgot a rain jacket for myself.  I did remember one for the kids though.

Get out in the rain a couple more times to suction Parker.

Get the Meals delivered.

Get a message that the Pulmonologist ordered a new medication for Parker.

Stop at the drive through to get a chocolate chip cookie for My dad, myself, and Alexa

Drop off Dad at home

Talk to 2 different people at the HHC company about supplies needed for this month, insurance coverage, and how to coordinate supplies in Minnesota if we need something while out of state.

Get home.

Play phone tag with the pediatrician's office.

Write some e-mails.

Get a text from Parker's speech teacher that she's going to stop by in 30 minutes to pick up the loaner iPad.

Make Alexa lunch.

Get Parker's afternoon tube feeding started.

Leave a message for the Urologist's office.

Talk to the pediatrician's office.  Find out Parker's follow up UA was clear (YEA!!) and request scripts and orders for supplies.

Talk with the speech teacher when she stops by.

Read Alexa two books.

Suction Parker several more times throughout the afternoon.

Realize the house smells like poo again.

Parker has another blow-out.

Stop Parker's tube feeding and attempt to change his dirty diaper.  Request Alexa's help again because Parker is all over the place and I can't hold him down alone.

Parker pees all over himself again (this time getting it all over his face, his trach ties and his shirt), the floor, and me.

Give Parker a bath.  Which is SOOO not easy to do by yourself.

Alexa helps me get the supplies I need.  

Re-do Parker's cares.

Clean up the carpet...again.

Wash out Parker's clothes and start another load of laundry.

Tell Alexa a Million Thank You's for all of her help today.  She asks, "Mommy are you having a bad day."

Finally get Alexa down for a nap at 3:00.

Notice I'm getting shaky and realize I haven't eaten lunch or had anything to drink since breakfast.

Warm up leftovers.

Try to convince Parker to take a nap with no luck.

Realize this day has been crazy and decide to blog about it because someone else has to get a kick out of it.'s only 4:00pm and Alexa still needs to take a bath, eat dinner and get to gymnastics class by 6:00p.  

Looking over all of that I can say a couple of things with absolute certainty.  1) I hate poo!  2) I'm the luckiest mother in the world to have such an understanding and helpful 4 year old that knows her Mommy's having a bad day and will do whatever she can do make it better even when her Mommy is on the brink of losing it. 3) I spend a lot of time on the phone and corresponding by e-mail with Doctor's offices, health professionals, and teachers.  4) This is why when I go to work I feel like I'm having a vacation day.  5) I don't know if I could survive without Parker's smile.  He's had a rough day too but still has a huge smile on his face even through the blowouts, getting wet in the rain, being held down by his sister, the bath that Mommy does not do as good as Daddy, and the fact that he's still not feeling too great because he's got another bug (that's not contagious this time). 

So that's been by day so far.  And guess what, I haven't gotten a single item on my to-do list done today yet and we leave for MAYO on Sunday.  Let's hope the rest of the week isn't quite as crazy!!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Dream Night

We were invited to the annual Dream Night at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo a few weeks ago.  We didn't really know what to expect other than it was for families with children with disabilities and terminal illnesses.  We decided to go and we were so glad we did.  It was a beautiful evening both because the weather couldn't have been better and because the zoo went out of their way to make sure all the families in attendance had a wonderful experience!  

The event took place after regular zoo hours and since the zoo is so big and there were not too many families in attendance we felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.  If you've ever been to the Omaha zoo you know how unusual this is.  When we arrived, the zoo offered us supper free of charge.  We then got to go on a few behind the scenes tours which was extra special and exciting for the kids (and us).  

We got very up close and personal to the giraffes.  

We rode the train all around the zoo and I got a big hug the whole time.  Parker wasn't sure about the train whistle and he held on TIGHT!

Alexa loved it though and wanted a picture with her and the train.

We also got to go on a behind the scenes tour of the aquarium.  This was especially neat and very interesting to see everything from this perspective.  Looking down into the water was pretty fascinating.  

We also went the regular way through the aquarium but seeing everything without all the crowds was really nice and Parker ate it up!  The aquarium was by far his favorite!

They had many other activities for us to do while we were there and it was so much fun for all of us.  We really did feel special and the experience did fit the the theme of "Dream Night".  Thank you to the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo!!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Summertime Splash

Who knew a $4.00 Slip-N-Slide could be so much fun??

Parker had the time of his life splashing in the water.  It was so much fun to watch him laugh and smile from ear to ear!

Alexa didn't really understand the "slide" part in Slip-N-Slide.  She had her own technique!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fourth of July Fun

We had a lot of fun this Fourth of July.   This is the first year Alexa has REALLY enjoyed fireworks.  The sparklers and the throw-and-snaps were her fav.  I'm sure she would've enjoyed doing some bigger ones "all by myself" but Daddy wasn't quite ready for that yet.  

Parker enjoyed the whole experience as well.  I wish I could've captured his funny faces on camera when he would hear the loud BOOMS!  His eyes would get big, he'd pause for a second to make sure everything was OK and then he'd smile really big.  I think he enjoyed seeing the big fireworks more than hearing them but all in all he did great!!

We celebrated on the Fourth at my parents house.  Taryne, Foster and Loghen joined us as well as my brother, Meggie, Meggie's family and some of their friends.  The kids had a great time playing in the water.

Then they all decided to jump into the water off the dock.  Foster went first.

Then Loghen went for it

And then Alexa tried it as well.  




They even talked Uncle John into jumping a couple of times 

It was a long but wonderful day that ended with us watching a firework display from across the lake.