Sunday, October 30, 2016

Prepping for the Holidays

On Friday, Ava asked me if we could put up our Christmas tree this weekend.  I told her that might happen the day after Thanksgiving...but not one minute before!  I explained that this weekend was already full of birthday and Halloween celebrations, and even once we're done with that, Thanksgiving is next up on the holiday docket.

When I was out shopping last weekend, I saw some Christmas displays, and opted not to venture down the aisles.  No wonder January feels so blah...we've been exposed to the holiday season (including Halloween) for at least three months prior, and when it's all done, it feels like a huge void!

But, I digress.

We are right in the middle of the birthday and Halloween events for this weekend, so I'll be posting all of that next week.  But, I do want to wish our little G a super duper HAPPY BIRTHDAY (yesterday)!  He's three, I can't believe it!  Three was the hardest age with Ava, soooo....I guess we'll see how it goes with G.  Love that little guy so much!

It was a rough week of adjusting to just one dog in the house.  Only one bowl for food, just one dog to let outside, and one furry friend following us around, looking for love and attention.  Lucky has received so many snuggles and kisses this last week...and I have a feeling that it will continue.  It's a change, and we'll make the best of it, for all critters (people, too) involved.  Yesterday, I cleaned out Darla's kennel and washed all of her blankets.  It'll be interesting to see if we notice a decrease in dog hair in the house...

We've been experiencing an extended warm fall this year (crossing fingers for a great night for Trick or Treating tomorrow) so we've been trying to get the kids outside as much as we can.  G is loving his soccer class, and I'm thinking about signing him up for the winter session.  He always talks about Coach Sam, whenever we discuss his class...looks like a good fit for the little guy!

Excited to play soccer!

On a rare occasion, Ava got herself ready for school, without any prompting by me!

Lots to do on this busy day....another party and a birthday dinner to prep for!  Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Sad Farewell to Darla

The right decision is often not an easy one to make...Scott and I had been struggling with a decision about our oldest beagle, Darla.  For the past year, she has been afflicted with multiple medical issues, and we knew that she wouldn't make it much longer.  It felt like we had been saying that for several years, but she kept on bouncing back and recovering from whatever ailments she had.  Over the past summer, she began licking her tummy to the point where she licked off all of her fur, and her skin was rubbed raw.  She also stopped eating around that time, and had no energy.  But, amazingly, she bounced back!  Then, just over the last few weeks, she started having multiple, daily accidents inside the house.  To the point where we'd let her out, and within an hour, she was going potty right in front of us, inside the house.

I'm not sure how that became my tipping point, but it hit home that this wasn't something that we could fix.  Last week, she had multiple accidents, during the night, in her bed.  Dogs do not do that where they sleep!  And so on Thursday, I called and made an appointment to put her down on Friday morning.  And wouldn't you know it...she had NO accidents on Thursday, day or night!  I started to second guess the decision, and prayed for a sign that we should either proceed or cancel.  On Friday morning, I came down to a puddle under the kitchen table.  I took that as my sign.

Scott and I took her to the vet's office, met with the technician and the vet, and talked through our options.  The vet mentioned that her right eye was a non-visual eye due to glaucoma, and that it was most likely painful.  She also most likely had internal issues, and only blood work would tell for sure.  She then proceeded to tell us that if the eye didn't respond to medical treatment, surgery would be the next step.  It felt like all of the "options" were just a way to prolong the inevitable, and that her quality of life wasn't where it should be. 

This is the first time I have had to make this kind of decision, and it's so horrible.  I have cried so much, have felt grief beyond belief, and have also felt incredibly guilty...why do I have the right to choose when something else dies? In the end, I know it was the right, humane decision to have made...but it was so hard. After we had made our decision, our vet indicated that she agreed that was the right plan.  She was neutral during the initial discussion, providing us with the medical options, and not attempting to sway our decision.  Hearing her agree, after we had decided, did bring a small amount of least I knew that we weren't being cruel in our decision.

Darla was extra affectionate and puppy-like on Friday morning, in the office.  She had so much energy and kept bouncing back and forth between Scott and me, looking for extra love and snuggles.  Seeing her full of energy created just one more pebble of doubt.  The standard procedure was the give her a shot to sedate her.  We could tell the minute that it took effect...she was sitting between us on the couch, and she just slumped over onto our legs.  We held her this way for another 20 minutes, until they came in to insert a catheter.  At that point, Scott picked her up, and held her in his arms.  When they injected the drug, it was just to the point where her mind was put under, and then it was increased to the point where it stopped her heart.  It took less than a minute. 

I'm so glad that we were there with her during her last moments.  She was surrounded by HER people, with non-stop strokes of affection, and words of love.  Some might say that it was better to have her die in her sleep.  I say that would have been easier for us, but not for her.  This way, we were there for her.

Beyond dealing with the loss, I was worried about how Lucky and the kids would handle it.  Ava was very mature, and said, "Well, at least we still have Lucky."  And G understands that Darla went bye-bye.  He has commented on that several times this weekend. 

As for Lucky, she was confused on Friday night. She wandered around for an hour, desperately searching for something, and finally settled down with me on the couch.  Yesterday, I moved Darla's bed down to the family room to replace the original one that she had ruined with her accidents.  Lucky has yet to lay down in that bed.  And last night, I moved Lucky's bed to the spot that Darla's bed used to occupy in our bedroom.  She refused to lay down until I moved it back to the original spot.  On a positive note, Lucky will be incredibly spoiled now that she's the only dog in our house.  G and I took her for a walk yesterday, which I never would have been able to do with both dogs at once.  She's 12.5 years old, which certainly isn't a puppy...and is the age of Spanky when we put him down.  I can only hope that she's with us for a few more years, and we aren't forced to make this decision again anytime soon.

Scott and Ava have been out of town this weekend, so it's been just me, G and Lucky in the house.  It has felt too big and too empty.  Last night, there was a blanket on the couch where Darla used to lay, and it was bunched up to the point where it looked like there could have been a dog under it.  I let myself pretend for a few seconds that she was still with us. 

Darla was with us for 15 years, 4 months.  She was a beautiful, loving, intelligent, sweet dog, who was wonderful with children.  She outsmarted the other beagles when she wanted treats all to herself, and she always begged by sitting up on her hind quarters, and waving her paws up and down (no, we didn't teach her that!)  She could always sense when I was sad, and would do everything she could to comfort me. I always knew that making this decision for Darla, specifically, was going to be hard.  There was just a connection there that doesn't always happen with all dogs/people.

RIP, sweet girl.  I imagine that you and Spanky are bouncing through the fields together in Rainbow Bridge.  We love you!

Our brand new puppy, Darla! (Aug 2001)

Spanky was instantly intrigued and protective of Darla

This face...I fell in love with her!

Doing her signature, self-taught, begging move! (Jun 2002)

 Lucky and Darla...daughter and friends forever! (Jan 2006)

Lucky, Darla and Spanky (Apr 2006)

Posing beautifully! (Sep 2008)

Ava and Darla, hanging out (Nov 2008)

Garrett trying to feed Darla a ball - no thanks! (Nov 2014)

Their last goodbye (Oct 2016)

Love you, Darla! (Oct 2016)

Soaking in the last moments with our girl (Oct 2016)

Give your pets an extra hug today.  They love unconditionally and ask for so little from us!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A New Route South

This week seemed to be all about making future plans...I bought tickets to see my favorite band in concert next August, I bought tickets for Ava and I to see a Minnesota version of the Nutcracker in December, and I'm looking into getting tickets for a holiday train ride in WI, and also going to a Vikings game with a friend and our daughters.  (It's nice that Ava's at the age where I can bring her to things, and she will actually enjoy them!)  We also have several holiday parties coming up in the next few weeks (Halloween, G's THIRD birthday (!), and a pre-Christmas party in WI!) 

Plus, I'm thinking ahead to all of the travel I want to do next year...NYC with Ava, Napa Valley with my mom, and maybe a warm-weather vacay to the Dominican Republic with a group of friends in Feb.  And maybe even a long weekend with another friend...just to get away for some girl time.

No wonder we feel like we're always on the go! :)

This weekend also had a road trip component...we headed south to Hayfield, MN, to have an overnight with our good friends and their family.  They just moved from the western side of the Cities in August, so it was fun to see their new house and a new part of MN yesterday.  AND, they have a hot tub, so the little girls had a great time after dinner...G was all talk about wanting to go in, but when we got him prepped and ready to go, he wanted nothing to do with it.  Oh well.  After G was in bed, Tiff and I sat in the hot tub and had a chance to catch up...even though we only get to see each other a few times a year, I truly enjoy having the chance to reconnect with such a good friend!

We gorged ourselves on fancy cheeses and wine, and then Darren treated us to a really good ham dinner.  And more wine.  And then more cheese.  So much food!  We apparently didn't get enough, because this morning, we headed over as a group to the pancake breakfast at their fire station.  It was the perfect way to start the drive back home...and it was a lovely drive back.  The sun is shining, the leaves are at their peak, and are turning beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow. Just gorgeous!

It was a challenge having G sleep in our room last night.  None of us got the quality sleep that we're used to!

This one, however, was quite perky and full of energy.  She had a great time with her friends last night!

Scott and Ava are working on tearing out the garden right now, and G is running around screaming "Salad!" like the zombie zucchinis on TV (don't ask.)

Can't believe it's Sunday already...where do these weekends go?!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Fall Family Fun!

A few weekends ago, we visited a new-to-us apple orchard in Lakeville.  I don't think anything will ever top the Afton Apple Orchard with the tire mountain, petting zoo, and tons of fun kids things...but this one had a big play set, a tractor hayride, and a TON of apples to be picked.  I think it's safe to say that we'll go back there in the future!  Plus, we managed to be outside during the beautiful morning hours, so we had nothing but sun while we were outside!

Interesting frost ring...didn't change the delicious flavor!

Relaxing after a long day of picking apples...

This past Friday we had family fun night where we each made our own pizzas and then put together an "I Spy" puzzle.  Thank goodness for Scott because Ava and I were doing pretty badly at finding the items in the picture!

I like this...G was sticking his tongue out while running

Yesterday I tried something fusing!  My neighbor planned a girls outing to an art studio in Minneapolis.  We learned all about glass, and had the chance to make our own projects.  And, I only cut myself once!  The one on the right is going to be a dish for the kids' bathroom (note the "A" and the "G" on the tiles...all made out of glass!) And the larger one on the left will be a tray for the office.  It was so neat to see how everyone came up with different ideas.  I think if I was to do this again, I would come with a plan on what I wanted to make.  I'm so excited to see how they turn out once they're done in the kiln.

And...a few random photos from the last few weeks...

Oktoberfest bonfire at work, plus beer, Bavarian food, and good company!

I like the way our front porch ended up looking this summer...needed to take a pic to remember it for next year

G was very insistent at getting a coaster for his milk.  He noticed that my wine glass didn't have one, so he quickly fixed that.

My girl :)

This morning we're off to take family pics with Grandma Deb, Grandpa Whitey and Tim.  Hopefully the kids hold it together so we can get some great pics!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Wedding Joy

Scott and I were talking about how we've moved out of the phase in our lives where we are attending weddings all of the time.  After that phase, we moved into the "baby shower" phase, which I reminded him that he never had to partake in...ever.  So, now when we get to go to a wedding, it's a fun, novel event - especially when it's a friend that I've known for 15+ years.  And then we get to see mutual friends that we've known for that long, too, and have moved onto other areas of the country!

Last night, my friend Kristin married her Scott.  And it was a beautiful day/night, where the setting was gorgeous, the people were engaging, and the bride was amazingly low-key (but beautiful!)  The short and sweet ceremony took place at the Ft Snelling Chapel (need to get back there with the kids, so we can explore the area) and the reception was at the Medakota Country Club in Mendota Heights.  Another friend of mine had her reception there 13 years ago, so it was fun to go back and relive another wedding experience there.  It was a perfect night! 

Waiting for the ceremony to start

This made me laugh...not sure why my face is so distorted here...

Emilie and I waiting for was worth the wait!

 Taking a break from dancing...Gretchen, Julie, Tara and Chrissy, sneaking out of the way!

It's always good to see Rob and Ande!

Ava went to a movie and had a sleepover with a friend on Friday night, and then last night, both kids were at Grandma Deb and Grandpa Whitey's, so we've had a more quiet, kid-free weekend than usual.  It'll be nice to see them this morning, and give them lots of hugs and kisses.