Archive for April, 2012

  • Backyard Babe and Borders

    Date: 2012.04.26 | Category: Baby, Bonnie Barrell, Dogs, Family, Leela Fish, Life, Pets, Photography, Sarah | Response: 14

    The weather has been gorgeous lately, so we’ve been spending some time in the backyard. I wish Spring weather lasted longer. Sarah and the girls are eating it up!

    Birthday beach toys!

    Bonnie Barrel likes to hide behind the wagon.

    Say Cheese.

    Our beautiful Leela girl is feeling back to her old, happy self.

    She’s going for that windblown look.

    Is the weather beautiful where you are?

  • Koyasan

    Date: 2012.04.24 | Category: Food, Friends, Life, Me, Nostalgia, Travel | Response: 9

    I’ve been caught up in this book for the past few weeks and I’m still not done with it. 1Q84 was on all the lists of the top 10 books of 2011 and it’s written by one of my favorite authors, Haruki Murakami, a master of magical realism and alternate realities.

    The author is Japanese and the story takes place in Japan. As a result, I’ve been thinking about the country quite a lot.

    As many of you know, I visited the country with one of my oldest and best friends Becki in the summer of 2008. Just the other day she posted this on my Facebook wall:

    How strange that she should put that as I’ve been thinking a lot about our time there lately.

    It’s funny how having the experience of a place can give you a better sense of a story that takes place there. It’s also interesting that things in the book make me go back and look at my time there in a new light.

    Koyasan, the place Becki mentioned, was a once in a lifetime experience. Becki completely planned our trip there and even though, or maybe especially because, it was more complicated to reach Koyasan, it was the best part of the trip.

    The train you take to get there isn’t on the JR rail pass, but with the help of a nice English speaking man, we managed to get tickets on the right train. The voyage there is stunning. The train actually goes up Mount Koya and the views are gorgeous.

    Once you get off the train, you have to get on this really steep cable car for another 5 minutes up the mountain. From there you take a bus that winds up the mountain – which is scary. But, once up there the weather is about 20-30 degrees cooler (and considering how unbareable the heat in Osaka had been, I was in heaven.)

    Mount Koya, as the name implies, sits at the top of a mountain in Japan. It is the center of Shingon Buddhism, which, up to that point in my life, I knew absolutely nothing about.

    When we arrived I was amazed by the quiet and tranquility of the small city. It was full of beautiful traditional Buddhist temples and you see monks wandering the streets.

    Thanks to Becki, we had lodging all lined up in a Buddhist temple. We slept in Japanese-style rooms on tatami mats and abandoned our shoes at the door. We were served vegetarian meals at floor tables and sat next to other tourists from across the globe.

    At the temple, the only bathing option was, again, Japanese style. This meant a community room for women with individual washing stations and giant, steaming wooden baths. Before going to Japan, the communal bathing freaked me out the most. But once I experienced it, it really was nothing to worry over.

    Part of staying at the temple was attending morning prayer services. We didn’t have to participate, but we sat and watched as the monk chanted and the worshipers stopped at different stations around the room and bowed.

    During the day we wandered through the temples and walked through a huge, ancient graveyard down to a lantern temple. It was like something out of a gothic fairy tale. The graveyard was phenomenal, huge and beautiful covered in stones and Buddha statues.

    The temples were all different. Some were elaborately decorated, others were simple. All were quiet.

    I was amazed by the beauty and stillness of it all. We were only in Koyasan for a short time, but if I ever make it back to Japan I will definitely return to that sacred city on the mountain.

    p.s. Nothing reminds me more of a Murakami story than this photo I took of the cat lounging by an entrance to an ancient temple.

  • Happy Birthday Mark

    Date: 2012.04.23 | Category: Birthday, Family, Love, Mark, Sarah | Response: 12

    April is such a great month. The weather is beautiful and I get to celebrate four very important birthdays: Sarah, Jacob, Susan and Mark.

    Today is Mark’s birthday.

    What can I say about the man I’ve loved for nearly nine years?

    I can say that, even though he doesn’t think so, he deserves something nice for his birthday. (This year I surprised him with a Kindle Fire and a cookie cake).

    I can say that sometimes in the mornings when I’m out and around the house getting things ready and I hear him singing the Cat in the Hat theme song to Sarah, my heart melts and my face splits into a giant grin.

    I can say that when Sarah was sick and I was in the middle of deadline week he willingly volunteered to watch her at home by himself all week and did a fantastic job.

    I can say that he tells me he loves me every day.

    I can say that there is no other man so perfect for me or so well deserving of a good birthday.

    Happy Birthday Mark!

  • The Birthday Party

    Date: 2012.04.18 | Category: Baby, Birthday, Family, Food, Friends, Leela Fish, Life, OMG YAY!, Sarah, Style | Response: 9

    Man was it a crazy weekend! Saturday we celebrated Sarah’s birthday out at Mark’s family farm… which is literally out in the middle of nowhere. We marked the path with balloons for our guests who ventured out that way. My grandfather thought it was a joke and that we were leading him on some wild goose chase. Lucky for him, he made it to the country party on one of the most beautiful days of the year.

    Because Sarah loves to dance to the “Hot Diggity Dog” song on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, I decided to use that as our theme.

    I made banners:

    (You know you’re in the Southern country when deer antlers accompany your decorations).

    And I made a wreath for the door. (That’s the party invitation at the bottom of the wreath).

    And because I’ve become obsessed with baking, I made two different kinds of cupcakes, both from scratch (and also learned that I would totally fail with the time constraints and creativity needed to do Cupcake Wars).

    These were the favorite: Oreo cupcakes from Annie’s Eats.

    But I also made yellow cake with chocolate icing per my husband’s request.

    And the birthday girl? She approved of the cupcakes!

    And the presents.

    And baby Evelyn made sure the grown-up food was yummy too.

    So many friends and family helped us celebrate!

    And Leela had a great time too.

    What a fun party!

  • Happy Birthday Jacob!

    Date: 2012.04.16 | Category: Baby, Birthday, Family, Photography, Sarah | Response: 12

    Shortly after learning I was pregnant, my sister learned that she was also pregnant.

    Sarah was born April 11, and four days later my sister gave birth to my nephew, Jacob, on April 15.

    These two have grown up side by side, but are completely different children. Where Sarah can be shy and demure, Jacob can’t be held down and doesn’t meet a stranger. Where Sarah loves books, Jacob loves diving into the pool head first. Sarah is fair-skinned and blue-eyed and Jacob has olive skin and is brown-eyed.

    Both are amazing kids though and love each other.

    Sorry this is a day late, but Happy Birthday sweet Jacob and congrats to your mom for making it a whole year!

  • Happy First Birthday

    Date: 2012.04.11 | Category: Baby, Birthday, Family, Home, Life, Sarah | Response: 25

    It’s hard to believe that a year ago today we were anxiously anticipating the arrival of our baby girl, excited to know what she would look like and kiss those little frog feet that had been kicking me in the bladder for several months.

    She arrived into the world at 12:40 p.m. and weighed in at a healthy 8 pounds, 2 ounces. Her eyes were wide and her dimples were deep.

    This year has been astounding. We are constantly amazed when she does something new. Just this past month she has been able to identify where her head is when asked and does this crazy looking dance with one shoulder and her arm. She is running all over the house and chowing down on pretzel sticks. She loves being outside and chasing the dogs. When we say, “Yay Sarah!” she starts clapping her hands and loves to play peek-a-boo with the blanket on her own, throwing it over her head and yanking it back down.

    Every single day with her is amazing, and I thank God for entrusting her to us.

    Happy Birthday Sarah Marjorie. Here’s to many many more.

  • Easter 2012

    Date: 2012.04.10 | Category: Baby, Family, Holidays, Life, Mark, Sarah | Response: 11

    My Easter? Well it was interesting. Let’s just say I was exhausted and somehow managed to leave our freezer open and destroy every single food item in the freezer… right after a grocery shop.

    But, Sarah’s Easter was fantastic. She loved her Easter basket, was mostly good during church and went on her very first Easter Egg Hunt courtesy of her Nana (and picked the concept up pretty quickly, too). I enjoyed the day through her eyes and I’m thankful that it was such a gorgeous day.

  • Addisonial Crisis

    Date: 2012.04.05 | Category: Dogs, Family, Health, Home, Leela Fish, Mark, Pets, Weirdness | Response: 20

    The verdict is in, and that’s what happened to Leela.

    Her adrenal glands in her kidneys stopped working, her potassium levels went through the roof and slowed her heart rate until it was nearly fatal.  Fluids and steroids and amazing vets saved her life.

    Leela has been to the vet every single day since Sunday. They ran the Addison’s test, and it came back positive yesterday. Since then I’ve started educating myself on the disease.

    My vet, who has been great throughout all of this, is learning as we go too. Yesterday he told me, “Addison’s is one of those things you learn about in vet school, but never actually see.” He’s been in consultation with a local internal medicine vet and she’s been helping us diagnose and treat her.

    Right now she’s getting a cortisone pill every day for two months. Long term she’s going to have to be on something that replaces the steroid that’s not being produced. Our options were to put her on a pill that she will build up a tolerance to eventually, or give her a shot every 25 days for the rest of her life.

    Both options are expensive. The pills are around $60/month and the shots are $85/ month.

    My vet said, “I know this is expensive, plus she’ll have to have regular electrolyte tests. I know you have a new baby and the expenses will be hard. For some people it wouldn’t be worth it…”

    In his questioning silence that followed, I held back the tears and then told him to give her the medicine. Putting Leela down is not an option.

    She will get the shot today. Because no one in town seems to be treating a dog with Addison’s, they had to overnight the medicine in. She will get it as soon as it comes in, otherwise, our vet told us, she will be right back in the emergency vet this weekend.

    The good news is that since she’s gotten the fluids and cortisone, she’s perked up. She’s eating again and wants to play ball and frisbee.

    Last night, as Mark and I discussed budgeting for this new monthly expense, we opened a letter from our mortgage company and learned that our homestead exemption finally went through and our mortgage will be going down by $50 a month and we’re getting a substantial escrow return. My favorite quote from The Sound of Music came to mind, “When God closes a door, He opens a window somewhere.”

    It’s going to be a long road, and the vet, Mark and I all are going to learn and help her along the way. Hopefully with this treatment plan we’ll never have to face an Addisonial Crisis again. My heart can’t take it.

  • For the Love of a Dog

    Date: 2012.04.02 | Category: Dogs, Family, Health, Home, Leela Fish, Mark, Pets, Sarah | Response: 21

    Dogs have always held a special place in my heart. My parents have raised border collies since before I was born, and as soon as I had a place where I could accommodate my own dog, I got Leela.

    Leela is four years old and very much a part of our family. She’s active, playful and silly, understanding more English than we give her credit for.

    Saturday morning we discovered some throw up on our bed. It wasn’t very much and we had no idea if it was from one of the dogs or cats. Saturday I spent most of my day out running errands. That evening I came home, took Sarah outside and started throwing ball for the dogs, as usual.

    I quickly noticed that Leela was acting weird. Instead of bounding for the ball, racing back at top speed and tossing it into my lap, she was slowly trotting to the yard and stumbling on her slow walk back to me. Huh. I figured she had hurt her hip doing some big jump, or had a sticker in her paw. I checked her feet, they were clear.

    That night she wouldn’t leave my side. She normally sleeps at the foot of the bed, but all night she was right next to me, acting like she does when she’s scared of storms. At about 3:00 a.m. she threw up again.

    Sunday morning she was worse. Her legs kept giving out and she wouldn’t eat, drink or get up. After consulting with my dad, we took her to the emergency vet.

    It was a very long day. The vet was nice but didn’t hold back. Leela was  very sick and dehydrated. They started fluids and did blood work. Two hours of waiting later we found out just how sick she was. Her sodium, potassium, blood sugar, heart rate and a number of other things were severely out of whack. She was going into kidney failure and considered “critical.” Needless to say there were lots of tears shed. The vet hugged me and told me Leela would need to stay overnight. We got to love on Leela before we left, comforting her and sobbing over her bandaged legs and weary walk.

    As we were leaving we saw another couple who had been at the ER vet all day with us leaving with their dog in a box. It shook me and I felt so bad for them.

    Over the course of the night I made several phone calls to the ER vet: at 7:00 p.m., at 10:00 p.m. and at 1:45 a.m. I talked to the vet directly two of those times and was so impressed with how great everyone was there. Finally, at that last early morning call, the vet said Leela was showing improvement. The vet told us she thought Leela might have Addison’s Disease, which basically means the adrenal glands in her kidneys weren’t producing enough steroids and causing her kidneys to fail. The good news is that it is treatable.

    We picked her up at 6:45 this morning and took her to her regular vet at 8:00, leaving her for the vet to look at and call us.

    Simultaneously, Mark took Sarah to school and discovered she was running fever, so he had to turn right back around and bring her home.

    After hearing nothing from the vet after several hours, I called. The regular vet had been in a car wreck, but was ok. He was running late though.

    They finally called me at 1:30 with an update on Leela. By a miracle all her levels were back to normal. My vet talked to me quite a bit about how critical Leela actually was. There is a good chance that if we hadn’t brought her in Sunday she would have died.

    He needs to test her for Addison’s disease now. The ER vet had given her a steroid shot though, so she can’t be tested for the disease until the steroid runs its course. So they fed her, made sure she kept her food down and sent her home with us. She’s resting now with the IV still in her leg, but she will go back to the vet in the morning to have the test run.

    The amount of money we’ve spent so far would probably cause you to have a stroke, but miracle of miracles we actually got a tax return this year thanks to having a baby. And while Mark and I had been debating how to spend the unexpected tax return, Leela pretty much took care of it all for us… and there is still another expensive test to be ran. And while the money spent sucks, Mark and I both agreed we would willingly spend that twice over to save the sweetest member of our family.