What it's all about...

I'm a 39 year old wife, mom, daughter, sister, aunt & friend. That should tell you who I'll be writing about most of the time.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Our Loss

Last Thursday, my daughter's chinchilla Noel passed away. It was the worst day of her life and the hardest day I have had as a parent. We're not exactly sure what happened, but it appears as if her liver failed. We are still reeling from this as a family, and my girl is still grieving the loss of her baby. I made the mistake of referring to Noel as her pet and she corrected me- "Noel was not my pet, she was my baby and my best friend." And she is right, of course.
Noel was still very young. She would have turned 3 next month. She was just 2 months old when we brought her home, a Christmas gift for my girl. She was instantly in love and took great care of Noel. She hand tamed her and talked to her all the time. She read out loud to Noel and confided all her secrets to her. She was a very lucky and so very much loved chinchilla.
About 2 weeks ago, my girl told me that Noel wasn't acting like herself. As we tend to do with our kids, our pets and especially ourselves, I told her she was probably okay and would probably be acting like herself again soon. Here is where my guilt sets in, because this response was purely money driven. In order to take a chinchilla to the vet, you have to find one with experience dealing with exotic animals. And then you pay for that specialty. And again, as with ourselves and sometimes our kids I hated the idea of taking her in and then paying a ridiculous amount of money to find out that she was fine. Big time regret here. My girl trusted that I was probably right and expected that Noel would bounce back. She didn't, obviously.
On Tuesday of last week, my girl told me that Noel was worse and she NEEDED to go to the vet. I went in to check her out and realized that something was definitely wrong. She wasn't bouncing all over her cage like normal and when I reached in to pick her up, she just sat in in my hands and then my lap. She was thinner than before too. I held food up to her mouth and she ate a few bites so I felt better about that, but still worried. Since it was late, I decided to call around in the morning to find out what I should do. I found a vet who could see her, but he was only working the walk-ins that day so I couldn't make an appointment. The girl that I talked to listened to the symptoms I told her and we decided that I could bring her in after work as the vet would be there until 6. Relieved, I went about the rest of my day. I left a little early, went home to pick up Noel, swung by to pick up the kids from choir practice and then headed to the vet's office. Noel was more lethargic now, but I was hopeful that the vet would be able to help us out. Unfortunately, he had decided to leave early for the day and since we weren't an appointment and they didn't have our information there was no way to reach us. We weren't sure what to do. The only other exotic vet in our area was already gone for the day and couldn't get us back in until 8am the next morning. We had the option of going to an after hours hospital, but none had doctors familiar with exotics. After talking about it, we made the very hard choice to take her home and go back to the other vet at 8 the next morning. I didn't sleep very good that night, afraid that she would die and my girl would find her in the morning. Every time I checked on her, she was always in the same spot and still breathing, but it was very obvious that she wasn't doing well. When it was time to leave for the vet, we took her out of her cage and she just laid down in the box. My girl asked me if she was dying and I told her that I thought so. She asked if we could still try to take her and I told her of course. As long as she was alive, it was worth trying. We drove as fast as we could, both of us crying the whole way there. They took her back as soon as we walked in and within 10 minutes we got a room and the vet was giving us his assessment. She was still alive, but her body temperature was very low and she was dehydrated. They needed to put her in an incubator to warm her up and would give her fluids. If she responded to that, they could examine her. But as for right then, she was too unstable even for that. He would call in a few hours and let us know how she was doing and then we could decide what to do from there. We left knowing that she was being taken care of, but were scared. We knew it didn't look good, but felt she was in good hands. I took my girl home by her request and I headed to work. I figured I could work until the vet called at least. Less than an hour after leaving Noel, she passed away. Shell called me right after she got the news from the vet. I could hear my girl crying, wailing was more like it. It ripped my heart out. She got on the phone and through her sobs asked if we could go back and see her. And if we could bring her home and bury her in the backyard. I left work and headed home. We took a plastic box with us that she put a pillowcase in and brought Noel back home. She carried the box with her baby in it around for a few hours and so many tears were shed. I dug a hole in a nice spot and she wrote a letter to put in the box as well. Between bouts of crying, we talked about memories of Noel and there were many. I think it helped her to focus on the good and not only the bad. After my boy got home and was able to say goodbye himself, we sealed up the box and my girl placed it in the ground. My boy filled in the hole part way, as did I. My girl wanted to finish and through her tears, she did. We spent a lot of time that night and in the days since talking about what happened and the what-ifs. We both feel guilt and regret, but we're working through it. She is very glad that Noel is at home, so she knows where she is and can visit her. She sits in the backyard every day and talks to her and has started to read to her. She goes out every night before going to bed to say good night.
It's been less than a week, but while my baby is still very much grieving for her baby, I see little bits of healing happening as well. She is smiling more and crying less. This life lesson is such a hard one to learn, and while I wish she never had to learn it I am proud of how she is coping. Shell, hoping to ease her pain, asked if she wanted to get another chinchilla. My girl said that it's too soon. She's not ready. But maybe after the first of the year she'd be ready to think about it some more. She wasn't ready last weekend, but I think that this weekend we'll take the cage out and clean it up. My girl asked if she could keep it in her room for a while, so once it's clean and dried out, it'll go back there. A couple of days ago, she took what was left of Noel's food to my mom (she has 2 chinchillas) and threw out the remaining hay. She's making baby steps, at her own pace. It breaks my heart and fills it at the same time. She is a loving, sensitive, caring, empathetic and compassionate person who usually wears her heart on her sleeve. This has been a devastating blow to her, and I am so proud of her grace and strength. She is an amazing person and I am lucky to get to witness it every day. And Noel was lucky to have her as a mom, even if it was for too short a time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The 22nd of September? Already???

Ugh. I woke up with a headache this morning. Then, in an attempt to eat a good breakfast of oatmeal instead of the breakfast burritos I've been consuming, I started warming up milk on the stove. Went downstairs to get the clothes out of the dryer and heard my boy yelling at me. "Mommy! The stove! I don't know what to do!!" Of course, I knew exactly what happened. The milk boiled over and burned instantly to the cook top. The bottom of the pot had scalded milk stuck to it. And a lovely smell now filled my house. Wonderful... After cleaning up the cook top as best I could and scraping out the burned milk from the pot, there was no time for starting over. So I finished getting ready, grabbed two donuts and we were out the door. So much for that good-for-me breakfast. Maybe tomorrow...
~I have to call tonight to see if my juror number is called to report tomorrow. It won't break my heart if I have to sit in the jury room and read all day instead of being at work. But if I'm chosen, I'd like for it to be a VERY short trial. I've got too much that needs to be done every day at work to miss too much.
~My kids brought home their 1st quarter report cards last week and apparently middle school agrees with them so far. Both had all A's. I'm so incredibly proud of them. Now if they could just clean their rooms, they'd be perfect...
~The new season of TV shows are mostly starting back this week and while Shell is over the moon excited about this, I'm feeling pretty blah about them. I think I might be content to stick with my Monday shows (How I Met Your Mother & Big Bang Theory), Thursday show (Bones) and Friday shows (Ghost Whisperer & Medium). Since she starts out watching many of the new ones, I'm sure I'll get a taste as well and maybe pick up others. But, probably not.
~I am not thrilled that my office will probably be moving. Our lease is up in this building at the end of October and the owner is wanting to find a smaller space with considerably less rent. While I understand the necessity, I'm really happy with where we are. It is less than 20 minutes from my house and 5 minutes from my kids school. Just 6 short months ago I finally got a new desk, one that was custom built to fit the space that I got to move to in my office. It's not right in front of the door anymore and not in the middle of the room. I love it. And I don't want to move into a new building where I might not be able to have my own space again. Or one that may be much farther from my house and the school. I know that I've been lucky, and complaining about these things is petty and whiny. But it's how I feel. One of the buildings they are looking at is actually closer to my house and one is much farther. I know which one I'm hoping for, but my opinion is not a deciding factor. It all comes down to money. And really, what doesn't these days?
~We are driving to California for Thanksgiving. We've been talking about it for a month now, but it is finally decided. We will leave here Monday night, arriving there sometime before noon on Tuesday. We will have Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday with Shell's family and then on Saturday we will have Thanksgiving dinner with my family. Then we'll drive home Sunday night. We will be sharing a hotel room with Shell's mom, and renting a car to drive there in. We want to take the kids to Disneyland either Wednesday or Friday and fill in the rest of the time by visiting family. It's going to be a vacation with no rest, but one that is badly needed. Other than Shell's parents, our kids haven't seen her family since they were just turning 5. They don't remember them and every year on their birthday they have to ask who is the person sending them a card and money. So, we will go and make a memory for them. I'm very excited to be spending a holiday with my extended family. Haven't done that since we moved here 14 years ago. Plus, I'll get to see Eric and finally meet his boyfriend. Being with her family will be good for Shell and I'm happy that we are all going out there together. My mom agreed to keep our dogs at her house, otherwise we couldn't do it. I'm a little nervous about how we're going to split our time on the 2 days we'll have left, so neither of us (or our families) feel left out or neglected. More to come on that, I'm sure.
~I'm still planning to go back out in December for my sister's graduation from nursing school. And I still have NO idea how we're going to be able to afford it. But it is a priority and since I will be the only one going, that helps a lot. I'm so proud of her and I'm really looking forward to seeing my little sister become a nurse.
~Lastly, how the hell is it the end of September already??!! Yesterday, the temps dropped into the 50's and we got rain. More of the same for today and tomorrow. It snowed in the higher elevations. I think Fall is really here. Halloween is next month and the kids have been asked to choose inexpensive costumes this year. They are being very understanding and have almost made their choices. Christmas will be very light this year. Maybe everyone who we see at Thanksgiving will consider our visit as their gift? They may have no choice...

Happy Autumn Everyone!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Snake Eyes

**I thought that I had already posted this, then found it in my list. So it's late, but here you go anyway.**

My babies are 11. Their birthday was the 30th and as they refer to it, they're "snake eyes"(11). Last year they were "double-digits"(10) and apparently next year they'll be "numerical"(12). After that they'll be teenagers, and that name alone is enough.
We had a party for them at the rec center so they could invite friends and go swimming. It was fun and they swam FOREVER!

My wife & kids LOVE the water. I do not. Thus, they swim and I take pictures. It's a good trade. Happy Birthday my babies.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Bear Country USA

Go to Bear Country USA. Trust me, just do. Wait, you won't have to just trust me because I'm going to SHOW you why you must go.
You drive through the first part. As we entered the gate, this is what greeted us.
It was so gorgeous. We were blown away. Here is more of what we saw as we drove through. Keep in mind that very few of these pictures were taken using the zoom.

So that was all very exciting and the animals were so beautiful and so close, right on the side of the road sometimes. And then this bear walked up to our car. We saw a grasshopper jump onto the hood and the bear caught sight of it. We all held our breathe as he sat up and then the grasshopper jumped off the car and the bear relaxed. But then he stood right in that spot for several minutes. It was very cool.

After the bears, we also saw:The donkeys were the conclusion of the drive through part. Then we parked and walked through the area where the smaller animals are and visited the gift shop.In this same area is where they keep the bears under a year old. They were freaking adorable!Then, this happened....That, my friends is my sister and I walking INTO the cub enclosure. We entered a drawing to feed the bear cubs and I was chosen. You had to be over 18 to go inside, so the kids were out of luck. To be honest, I'm glad because I don't know how I could have chosen between them!

Here they come!

The kids were able to be in a gated area just outside of the enclosure. Here is from their view.Not bad. So, this is us feeding and playing with the babies. It was so awesome and unexpected. We will definitely go back, even if I don't get to feed baby bears next time.

That concludes the vacation wrap-up. Wow, I might actually get to the rest of August yet. Thanks for being patient!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Deadwood & Sturgis

In hopes that I might finish recapping my vacation before, say...Christmas, I give you Part II of our trip to South Dakota. We headed to Deadwood Saturday morning with the intention of only staying a couple of hours. Not thinking there would be THAT much to keep us there longer. Oh, were we mistaken! Did I mention that we were there the weekend that the motorcycle rally in Sturgis was to begin?
This was just one of the many parking lots reserved for motorcycles only. It was very cool. They were everywhere, on the highway, on the street, in the parking lots. At times, it also meant that it was very loud, but for the most part I'd say it added to our trip.

There were very cool buildings and again...lots of motorcycles. We went to the museum and walked around a little, then headed to the main street in Deadwood. Wild Bill Hickok is a central figure in Deadwood's history as he was shot to death during a card game in a saloon in town. We saw a recreation of the shooting and got a picture of the kids with the actors.We had lunch in this saloon right before the recreation, and took some pictures. Here I am with my lovely wife who is, you might notice, smoking. She was thrilled that she could smoke inside. This is what it looked like walking up and down the main street.

Across the street from where they did the recreation, was the actual spot where the saloon once stood and where history was made.Also on the main street, was a very small casino with pop culture memorabilia scattered throughout it. Some of the highlights included:

Musical Intruments~


And some other stuff~

It was fun and FREE!

Next, we headed up a very steep road to the Mount Moriah Cemetary where Wild Bill and Calamity Jane are buried. They aren't buried far from the entrance, but it's a bit of an incline that you have to walk up. But it's really beautiful with the tall gravemarkers and the tall trees.

After spending many hours in Deadwood and really enjoying ourselves more than we had planned, we headed back to the motel. But on our way, we drove through the town of Sturgis. It goes without saying that there were motorcycles EVERYWHERE. It was still 2 days until the official start of the rally, but the party had definitely already started. Something that caught my eye- apparently Sturgis boasts both the World's Biggest Biker Bar AND the World's Largest Biker Bar!

Enough for now. Next up, our adventure at Bear Country USA before leaving South Dakota. And if I'm really ambitious, I might get you all caught up on the rest of August before September is over!