Puppy Therapy

I am happy to introduce the newest member of our family! Meet Elsa Belle. She is a Great Pyrenees/German Shepard mix. We got her the day after Thanksgiving.

Elsa, six weeks

Elsa

She has grown pretty quickly.

Elsa, eight weeks

Elsa, ten weeks

Elsa, four months

Elsa, four months

She is five months now and weighs about 50 pounds. She is very sweet and after her initial excitement wears off when she sees you, she is a pretty chill dog. She likes to play with the kids.

Elsa and TC

She does occasionally get into puppy mischief.

Elsa 5 months muddy

I’m really happy that we have her. She has definitely lifted my spirits.

So Long My Sweet Fur Babies

In 2003, I was at the mall with my sister and we slipped into the pet store so she could get a collar for her dog. The store was packed and I was weaving my way through the crowd to get to the collars when the woman blocking my way turned around. In her hands was the one of the most adorable puppies that I had ever seen.

Jonah Puppy 2

I left the store with him an hour later and named him Jonah. I’ve written about him here. Jonah was a very independent dog, hard to train but easy to love. We had many nicknames for him, Mr. Jones, Husk, and Handsome Husk. He certainly was handsome.

Jonah

We got Jonah in early 2003. Six months later we bought our first house and decided Jonah needed a playmate. I had always wanted a long-haired German Shepherd. So we found this little miss.

Ruby Puppy 1

We named her Ruby because she was born in July. (Ruby is the birthstone for July birthdays.) Where Jonah was independent, this dog was meant to be a companion. She followed me everywhere. She was the most loyal dog. I wrote about some of her escapades here. She also had nicknames, Rubes, Ruby Tuesday, Ru-Ru, and Bear.

115.JPG

These two dogs were our first children. They kept us entertained and they loved us. Beyond that, they were a pair. They didn’t like being apart.

In October, I made them a joint vet appointment because they were both having issues with their hind legs. Ruby had a nerve condition developing and Jonah had arthritis developing. Unfortunately for us, there were bigger issues brewing that we didn’t know about. We lost Jonah on October 4th and Ruby 10 days later.

If you aren’t animal person, you may not understand how terrible this felt. If you are an animal person, then I probably don’t have to tell you. My pups were so comforting to me and I loved them so much. I miss them greatly. But mostly, I count myself lucky that I got to be their human for more than 12 years.

 

My Master Builder

Tags

I previously wrote about my husband building the boys an outdoor playset as his summer project. My husband has always been pretty handy but I must say that this time he has completely outdone himself. His dad worked as hard as he did. It was so hot and humid outside that we set up a pop-up tent so they wouldn’t be in the direct sunlight. I was bringing them jugs of water and wet cloths all day. And I can’t leave out that there was another member of the team…JC was out there too with all his toy tools getting right in the mix. This project was a real labor of love. Check out the handiwork.

The frame. (Notice the littlest member of the team to the left.)

The frame. (Notice the littlest member of the team to the left.)

It was a pretty serious production.

It was a pretty serious production.

Stage 2 - the house.

Stage 2 – the house.

The final product.

The final product.

Great Expectations

Tags

When they first saw the ocean.

When they first saw the ocean.

One of the things I adore about my husband is that he really strives to “create memories” with the boys. He is very idealistic about things like family vacations and designing and building them backyard playset that will put all other playsets to shame (without a store bought kit). I tend to be pessimistic when it comes to the idea of family vacations while the kids are this little. Mostly because I didn’t think they would handle the car ride very well.

However, after everything that happened with my dad I thought we could use some sunshine. I was also scared shitless of how I would handle Father’s Day and Dad’s birthday which are only a few days apart. So we planned a vacation to the beach during that week with my sister and her family.

For the months leading up to it, I was really focused on planning the road trip because it was going to be between 10-12 hours and my boys have only every been in the car for one hour at a time. Secondly, I was focused on safety, meaning life jackets and floatation devices because my boys don’t swim yet. Jay was daydreaming about spending hours on the sandy shores building sand castles with his mini-mes.

So obviously, as with most things about parenthood, we were wrong about everything. The boys were so good in the car on the way there and back. Totally self-content, enjoying the scenery, and watched some DVDs. I didn’t need to worry about it at all.

While they exceeded our expectations in the car, they destroyed all of Jay’s sand castle dreams. They did not take to the beach at all. They would stay out there for 20 minutes at the time. Once the sand started sticking to their skin, all bets were off and we had to retreat to hotel pool. Once there, they didn’t even need the life jackets and floatation devices because they would only get in the 1.5 foot splash pool.

But all in all, it was a fun vacation. We went on a boat ride to see dolphins and saw quite a few which made TC very happy. He is convinced he saw an orca whale. My boys and my niece and nephew had alot of fun being together for so many days.IMG_3380

I still feel bad that Jay didn’t get to build the gigantic sand castle he was dreaming about. He’s settling on the playset for now.

Phase 2 of the playset.

Phase 2 of the playset.

Graduation Day

Tags

This Friday, TC graduates from preschool. Remember in the fall when I was freaking out about him starting school? Seems like yesterday. Now he is already enrolled in Kindergarten! He sailed right through despite all of my worries and fears. I will have to try to remember that in the future. (But I probably won’t.)

He’s so big now, five and a half. He can count so much higher and write his name. He knows about months and seasons. He knows that caterpillars turn into butterflies after hiding in “cancoons.”

All that growth and change but he is still a little mommy’s boy. This morning when I was leaving for work, I knelt down and gave him a hug. He wrapped his arms around me and then his little legs. He whispered, “I’m not letting go. I’m your koala.”

He certainly is.

My Happy Thoughts

Tags

The boys have been able to go to the park once already. The difference between this year and last year is amazing. TC is so much more coordinated this year and conquers everything. JC was just starting to walk at this time last year, now he is running all over. But the best thing is that TC was very excited to help his little brother. He went down the slide with JC and pushed him in the swing. It was very precious.

I am thankful more now than ever to have them and Jay. They keep me going.

IMG_2454

Comforting

My posts since November have been pretty depressing. Losing my dad has been more painful than I ever imagined (and I imagined it being very painful) but I thought maybe it would be fitting to share something that has been very comforting to me.

In order for it to make sense, you have to know that I have two older sisters, Angela and Mary. (Just because I mention them in the story.)

Two weeks after Dad died, I was in the middle of a regular, weird dream that didn’t make any real sense. In the middle of the dream, my dreamself felt my phone vibrating, so I answered it and it was my dad, like his actual voice.  All of a sudden I knew he was calling me from heaven and I asked “Dad, where are you?! Are you okay?”  and he said he was fine, everything was fine and it was okay. Then it skipped from being on the phone to walking beside him on the beach, the beach was very bright, the sky was almost white. There were no houses or any other people.  Dad was wearing jeans and a flannel and was walking a little bit ahead of me to the right. He turned back to me and said, “Come on, walk faster.” and I was like, “Dad, I didn’t know you could walk this fast.” and for the first time I realized, he didn’t have any oxygen on and he could breathe just fine.  It was like a sudden realization that he wasn’t sick anymore. And as soon as I realized that, the dream was over.  It was such a relief, like a physical relief when I woke up.

A couple weeks after that, I was texting Angela and telling her that I was having a rough time processing everything that had happened because I needed to actually talk to Dad to do that, I was so worried that he was scared when he was dying. In my role as caregiver, I was very protective of him and I just hated that I couldn’t know that he wasn’t scared. I never said that out loud, I only sent it in a text to Angela.

The next morning I spoke with Mary. I hadn’t talked to her in two weeks because her phone wasn’t on. And she told me that a few days before she had a dream about Dad. She said she was having a normal dream and then it changed to where she was sitting in the basement at my house on Bulah, at that table where Dad always sat and Dad was with her. There was like light over them, but dark everywhere else, like a spotlight. She said he had on his glasses and he was reading the paper and smoking a cigarette. They had this conversation:

“Dad, can I ask you something?”
“Sure.”
“Were you scared? When you were dying?”
“No. I knew I had to go.”
“Really? You’re okay?”
“I’m fine hun.” (This is important to me because Dad always said that to me when I was being too overly concerned with his health.)

“And you’re smoking a cigarette?”
“Yeah, they don’t hurt me anymore.”

I thought it was so strange that she asked him the very thing I was the most concerned about.

So then two weeks ago, Jay tells me that he had a dream about Dad. He starts telling me that it was just him and Dad and that they were just talking, he said he couldn’t remember exactly what they were saying but that Dad was letting Jay know that he was doing GREAT. Jay said he looked a little younger and healthy. Then he goes, “Yeah and we were on this really bright beach.”

I hadn’t mentioned the beach part of my dream to Jay. I had just told him that Dad and I were walking together. I described the beach in my dream to Jay and he said that it sounded like the exact same place.

Nowhere Close

Tags

,

There’s a laundry list of things that I have done since I last posted. Each one of them shittier than the one before. Being the “executor” of someone’s estate is just a form of long, drawn-out, emotional torture.

Last spring I encouraged Dad to buy a corvette. He had one right after he got out of the army and he sold it to buy the house that I grew up in. So in May of 2014, I helped him buy a black 1992 corvette. It was a beautiful car. It lit him up. He was so excited to drive one again. He would pull it out of the garage and sit in a chair and just look at it. Last month, I had to say goodbye to the car (as part of his estate business). I had a rather visceral reaction to making that call. I had to leave work because I couldn’t keep myself from crying. Before they came to pick it up that night, I drove it around with block with my sister listening to some of Dad’s music. When they drove it away, I kept my composure but they might as well have hooked what was left of my heart to the back of it.

Last week, I finished the last book that Dad was reading before he died. I had started reading it to him when he was at hospice and made up my mind to finish it for him. Today, I called to have his cell phone shut off and I wrote the check for the last payment on his services.

All of this hurts. Each thing I do makes me feel farther from him. I have never been far from my dad. I was a daddy’s girl from the moment I was born and when my parents divorced Dad had full custody of me and my sisters. Mom moved to another state. I have lost my anchor.

I don’t know where I am supposed to go to feel close to him. At first, I could go down in the basement (of my house, where he lived) and I swear that I could feel him there but not lately. Seeing his car in the garage every day seemed to keep him right there too. But now that is gone. On the day that I let the car go, I went to his grave. It was the first time I had been there. It was freezing out. I wrapped myself in a blanket (over my winter coat), put on a hat and gloves and sat there for an hour. Is that where I have to go now?

Wherever I am supposed to go, it’s nowhere close.

The Firsts

Tags

,

I survived my first Christmas and New Year’s without Dad. I never missed a New Year’s Eve with him in my entire life. Dad, me and Jay, my sister Angie and her husband Casey, and some of our closest friends always get together at our house and listen to classic rock, dance and have a few drinks. Usually I sneak in a dance with my dad where he tells me that I do not know how to follow right after I step on his feet. My heart was heavy on New Year’s Eve day thinking about him not being there and I really didn’t want to do it. But I did. We went out to dinner beforehand just to add something new that may be fun. I don’t think I would have made it through if we had kept everything exactly the same. I ended up having a decent time, not a great time but not terrible.

Christmas however was a disaster. The time in the morning with just Jay and I and the boys was fine. I love seeing their faces light up and it lifted my spirits. Later in the afternoon when the whole extended family was here, that’s when it got a little messy. But I don’t care now. I’m glad the holidays are over. I want the decorations gone and I just want to go on like they never happened. None of it felt right.

I ache with missing my dad. Sometimes my grief sits on my chest and makes me feel like I got punched by the world’s strongest man. Sometimes it will be like that from the moment I wake up until I lay my head on my pillow that night. Or times I will be going along about my day and suddenly it’s like I realize that he is gone, that all of it actually happened. It’s similar to when you accidentally walk into a wall or a door, jarring and unexpected…and painful.

Now that the holidays are over, I don’t have to worry getting through a particular day or event. I just have to start adjusting to this new world I have to live in. I’m not sure which is worse.